John Edwards found himself ‘laughing at 1 a.m.’ behind the wheel of the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE at the “intensity” of the GT Le Mans category battle in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The GTLM fight in the 58th edition of the Florida endurance classic was hotly contested right the way through, with the race being decided in the final hour as Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW passed Nick Tandy’s No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for the class win.
From sunset on Saturday evening onwards it was a tight fight between the No. 24 BMW and the No. 911 and No. 912 Porsches, with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R and No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE Evo also getting in the mix at some stages.
It resulted in hard-fought on-track exchanges throughout the night, one of which stood out to Edwards, who shared the GTLM race-winning BMW with Krohn, Chaz Mostert, and Augusto Farfus.
“It was stressful in the middle of the night we had some battles, even with the Ferrari,” said Edwards.
“I actually laughed harder than I’ve ever laughed while driving a race car in the middle of the night with the Ferrari.
“He was struggling a bit on the top end and we were quick in the bus stop, but he was very good on the brakes, very good on corner entry so he could shove his nose in a lot.
“He started to flash me as if I didn’t know he was there; I think he was just trying to annoy me a bit with his flashing.
“I had no one in front of me and he flashed me coming out of the bus stop, so I flashed my lights and then he flashed his back and I flashed mine back and we did it the whole way around the banking into Turn 1.
“About start/finish I realized I had to stop laughing and pay attention to my braking marker. 24-hour races, as intense as it is and as aggressive as we all are, at 1 a.m. you just need some entertainment.
“Especially at the end it’s a bit of mind over matter,” he added.
“We all train a lot; our job is only to show up here 11 weekends a year and a couple of other one-off races, so at home, our job is just to work out and be ready for these events.
“Physically we can all do it, we can all run long stints but mentally you have to push yourself.
“There’s just no substitute, there’s just no training that can make you feel that pressure and intensity that you feel in the moment. Physically we’re all ready but mentally it’s nothing you can simulate.”
The race only saw six full course caution periods resulting in long green flag runs, with drivers triple, quadruple and even quintuple stinting.
Edwards managed a triple stint deep into the night which he said drained him to the point he felt ‘wiped out’.
“I think physically I could have done another stint; mentally and emotionally I’m just wiped out,” he said.
“That triple stint took a lot out of me; I did one in the night that didn’t take much out of me but when you’re at the end of the race at Daytona and you’re battling for the victory that adds extra pressure and intensity.
“It takes a lot out of you and it’s very stressful.
“I enjoyed the battles, we had some rubbing but nothing egregious, nothing dangerous and I think it was all fair so it was nice to have a battle and have a little contact and take the risk.”
Mostert: Daytona Win Like Bathurst 1000
Mostert, meanwhile, likened winning the Daytona 24 Hours to his Supercheap Auto Bathurst 1000 victory in 2014.
“The last feeling I’ve had like this victory is winning the Bathurst 1000,” said the Australian.
“I feel like I haven’t achieved winning a lot over the last few years, so this is up there. This race is so different but just as intense.
“We couldn’t afford a mistake all day, and across the whole drivers, we didn’t do that. It took 12 months for the 1000 to sink in, and it’ll probably take 12 months for this to sink in.”
While Sunday’s victory is Mostert, Edwards and Krohn’s first at Daytona, it marks Farfus’ second time on the top step of the podium in two years at the Rolex 24 after he was also a part of the GTLM-winning BMW lineup last year.