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Daytona Post-Race Notebook

Check out John Dagys’ post-race notebook from 61st annual Rolex 24 at Daytona…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Meyer Shank Racing scored its third Rolex 24 at Daytona victory, marking back-to-back wins for the Ohio-based squad in Acura machinery. Its other win in the Florida endurance classic came in 2012 with a Ford-powered Riley DP.

***Helio Castroneves became the first three-time winner in consecutive years, with Peter Gregg having won three straight Rolex 24 editions, but separated by a year (1973 and 1975-76), with the 1974 edition of the race having been canceled due to the oil crisis.

***Tom Blomqvist and Simon Pagenaud are now both two-time winners, with Blomqvist two-for-two in Rolex 24 attempts, while Colin Braun picked up his first overall Rolex 24 after Prototype Challenge and LMP2 class victories in 2014 and 2020, respectively.

***MSR team co-owner Mike Shank thanked fellow Acura factory GTP team owner Wayne Taylor for his car, driven by Filipe Albuquerque, being “very respectful” on the final restart with 26 minutes to go. The result marked the second consecutive runner-up finish for WTR.

***Shank said: “Wayne and I worked well together. We texted each other on that last restart because god knows what was going to happen. We had a very respectful restart and we’ll reciprocate how we raced each other later with them for sure.”

***In addition to its battery change in the sixth hour, the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 made an additional trip to the garage with less than six hours to go due to an issue with the car’s water pipe according to Porsche LMDh factory director Urs Kuratle.

***Kuratle explained: “That was a water clip from the combustion engine, a water pipe which broke, which was a first as well. We had many firsts with issues. A lot of firsts this race, issues we never faced before and a lot to do after this race.”

***Action Express Racing team manager Gary Nelson was pleased with Jack Aitken’s debut for the team. “We’re real thrilled with Jack,” Nelson said. “He got in our car for the first time [in the race], went out of the pits, and had contact! But from that moment on, he was on it. The contact really wasn’t his fault, just the cars came together.”

***BMW M Motorsport director Andreas Roos said the factory LMDh operation was boosted by the presence and interest of BMW Group board chairman Oliver Zipse, who waved the starting flag. “He was here for the whole race and said thank you to everyone,” Roos said. “He enjoyed being part of the team. It was a nice opportunity for him and us.”

***Roos added that the No. 25 BMW M Hybrid V8 was quicker than the No. 24 despite encountering a hybrid system issue early on. BMW intends to analize the disparity further: “It was definitely not down to the drivers,” Roos stated. “That’s very easy to know, because when [Colton Herta] performs on one car and is slow on another, it can’t be the drivers!”

***Post-race technical inspection for GTP class cars stretched into Monday morning, owing to the complexities of the new hybrid-powered prototypes. All inspected cars across the five classes cleared tech, with no changes to the initially published results.

***James Allen, who edged out CrowdStrike Racing by APR’s Ben Hanley for the LMP2 class win by a mere 0.016 seconds, ironically will be driving for Algarve Pro Racing in the Asian Le Mans Series this season, spearheading an Oreca 07 Gibson that will also feature Kyffin Simpson.

***Silver-rated driver Alex Quinn impressed in his WeatherTech Championship debut, with the 22-year-old Englishman having set the quickest race lap in LMP2 in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca.

***Sean Creech Motorsport recorded its third consecutive Rolex 24 runner-up finish in LMP3 after losing the class lead due to an electrical issue at the rear of the car that required a 28-minute trip to the garage. It came after the car led a race-high 282 laps.

***The Florida-based team, however, leads the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup standings following Daytona, with Joao Barbosa, Lance Willsey, Nico Pino and Nolan Siegel the only four non Rolex 24 race-winning drivers to sit atop the Endurance Cup standings.

***AWA broke Riley Motorsports’ two-year win streak in the class, marking the first WeatherTech Championship victory for the Duqueine D08 Nissan as well as the Andrew Wojteczko-led AWA operation. The lineup featured future Corvette Racing FIA World Endurance Championship driver Nico Varrone as well as Thomas Merrill, Wayne Boyd and Anthony Mantella.

***Maro Engel said he woke up Saturday morning “feeling it” — a mood that led to WeatherTech Racing changing its closing driver from Jules Gounon to the German just two hours before the start of the race. Engel went on to claim GTD Pro class honors for the Proton Competition-run entry.

***Proton became the first team since CORE autosport in 2014 to claim two Rolex 24 class wins in the same race. It came after a challenging start to the event for its debuting LMP2 entry. “Unfortunately we had an incident in the qualifying,” said team boss Christian Ried. “We had one more during the week. so it was really not a lot of time for the guys to rest. Even more important, what they achieved today with the GTD [Pro] and LMP2 victory is just a great day.”

***Winward Racing’s hopes of a fairy-tale end to its rollercoaster Rolex 24 journey ended in a final-hour retirement. The No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo incurred left-rear wheel damage after Philip Ellis went side-by-side with the No. 3 Corvette through Turn 2. Ironically, Ellis struck the wall at the same point where Lucas Auer crashed in opening practice, forcing the team to scramble a new chassis from Texas.

***Iron Lynx mechanics helped to get the replacement Winward Mercedes ready in a long Friday night shift that ended at 4 a.m. on race day morning. Russell Ward described it as Winward’s “most incredible” race. “It was all or nothing and we gave it our all to secure the win,” he said. “Now, we are disappointed for the moment. After all, we had made it all the way from the back of the field to the front and even led the GT3 field at times.”

***Several other leading Mercedes dropped out of contention, including the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports entry that went behind the wall with a wheel bearing defect and cost the team more than ten laps for repairs in the 18th hour. The No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes, which started first due to Winward’s chassis change, retired early Sunday morning due to radiator damage.

***Lamborghini ended up with the highest-placed new GT3 or Evo in the race, with the No. 63 Iron Lynx entry of Andrea Caldarelli, Mirko Bortolotti, Roman Grosjean and Jordan Pepper finishing fourth in GTD Pro. Team principal Andrea Piccini said: “Our Balance of Performance took away any possibility of fighting for the victory, but we had a strong strategy and great drivers that made it possible to stay in the leader’s lap for the entire race.”

***The all-new Ferrari 296 GT3 and Type-992 Porsche 911 GT3 Rs also struggled in the race, with the quickest time from a Prancing Horse, Daniel Serra’s 1:47.277, some 1.7 seconds slower than GTD Pro pace-setter Gounon. The fastest Porsche lap time, a 1:48.472, came from Pfaff Motorsports’ Patrick Pilet.

***Aston Martin, which scored its first-ever Rolex 24 class win, became the third different manufacturer to have two cars on the GTD podium at Daytona after Porsche (2015), Lamborghini (2018, 2020) and Mercedes-AMG (2021). Magnus Racing repeated its second-place result from last year.

***The Heart of Racing, meanwhile, has now won three of the four Endurance Cup races, adding to its 2021 Motul Petit Le Mans victory and its Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen triumph last year.

***Romain Grosjean confirmed his presence in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with Iron Lynx’s GTD Pro Lamborghini entry during the NBC Sports telecast. Sportscar365 understands that Jordan Pepper will also likely form part of the lineup for the second round of the Endurance Cup.

***FIA Formula 3 race winner Ralf Aron attended the race as a guest of Iron Lynx. The 24-year-old is now a team manager for Prema, which is partnered with Iron Lynx and collaborates with the Italian team on the Lamborghini LMDh program.

***Daytona International Speedway announced a record fan attendance for the Rolex 24. Although figures are not published per NASCAR-owned tracks’ policy, the infield was noticeably busier in recent years, along with a packed garage area, which was opened up to all general admission ticket-holders for the first time this year.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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