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Doonan Hails “Record Breaking” Rolex 24

John Doonan’s impressions after first WeatherTech Championship race as IMSA President…

Photo: Jake Galstad/IMSA

New IMSA President John Doonan has hailed last weekend’s record-breaking Rolex 24 at Daytona as an “amazing effort” by all involved.

Doonan, in his first WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in his new series executive role, witnessed a new distance record of achieved of nearly 3,000 miles completed by the race-winning No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi.V.R.

While featuring only six full-course cautions, the Florida endurance classic also saw records drop through the night.

“It was an amazing effort by all of the teams and drivers to keep the race so clean,” Doonan told reporters post-race. “We had some action when we needed action.

“I think 602 laps in the middle of the night, the longest green flag segment in the history of the race… We put 833 laps on the board and break the previous record.

“It was absolutely fantastic. We had amazing turnout by the fans. We couldn’t be happier with the result.”

The former Mazda Motorsports director, who has replaced longtime President Scott Atherton, said he didn’t experience any surprises over the course of the weekend.

“I knew we had an amazing staff of motorsports professionals at IMSA,” he said. “I knew the talent pool throughout the field was probably some of the best ever.

“I had my fingers crossed for a good, safe race. Everyone delivered. I’m just really, really satisfied with the show we put on. 

“Major kudos to [track president] Chip Wile and everyone at the [Daytona International] Speedway. I didn’t see a single hair out of place.

“I’m a racer so there’s no doubt I wanted to be competing but you’re competing against different things when you have the series running.

“You’re competing against weather. You’re competing against all kinds of outside forces you can’t control.

“It was an amazing race and I’m really thrilled on how it all came out.”

Rolex 24 Grid “Very Representative” of Full-Season Entry List

Doonan said last weekend’s 38-car field, the lowest in Rolex 24 history, serves as a good indicator for the remainder of the WeatherTech Championship season.

The twice-around-the-clock endurance classic featured several one-off GT Daytona entries although additional cars are expected in the class for the WeatherTech Sprint Cup rounds, which kicks off at Long Beach in April. 

Doonan also expressed optimism towards Friday’s ACO-IMSA convergence announcement that will see a single top-class platform between the WeatherTech Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship.

“What you saw this weekend is very representative of what the entry list is going to look like for the rest of the WeatherTech Championship,” Doonan said. “We’re really thrilled with that. 

“We’re really happy with how the Michelin Pilot Challenge looked. 

“Relative to LMDh, we can’t forecast but if I had a crystal ball, or if it was my choosing, you’d see another dozen top category cars in this series in 2022. 

“But obviously we can’t speak on behalf of any manufacturers.

“Based on the reaction of what we announced with our partners at the ACO on Friday, there’s huge interest and momentum is pretty darn good.

“We’re not every satisfied with the 38 we had this weekend in terms of the Rolex 24 but there’s a great outlook for the season and I think the outlook for the championship and what was announced on Friday is quite good.”

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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