Wayne Taylor Racing has claimed victory in the 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona, despite a controversial late-race contact between Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque with less than ten minutes remaining in the rain-effected enduro.
Taylor took his No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R across the line just 0.671 seconds ahead of Albuquerque’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac, after the two DPi cars collided in Turn 1 while battling for the lead with seven minutes to go.
Albuquerque’s Dallara-chassied prototype spun as a result, giving way for Taylor to take the historic overall victory in the first race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s new-generation of prototype machinery.
Officials deemed no further contact on the incident.
Ricky and brother Jordan Taylor shared top honors with longtime co-driver Max Angelelli, in his final race, and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon.
It marked the team’s second Rolex 24 crown, after their 2005 win in a Riley Pontiac DP and coming up short on numerous occasions in recent years.
The late-race drama came after an equally controversial move with 36 minutes to go, which saw the sister No. 31 Action Express Cadillac of Mike Conway, who was 20 laps down, allegedly block Taylor and lose ground on the second-to-last restart.
No further action was taken by IMSA on that call, which put Taylor at a nine-second deficit after the last round of pit stops until the 21st and final full course caution came out for the stationary No. 93 Acura NSX GT3.
The incident set up a 20-minute dash to the checkered flag, where the two Cadillacs took the fight to each other.
Albuquerque and co-drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi made it a Cadillac 1-2, with the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30 Gibson finishing a surprise third overall, and first of the global LMP2-spec cars.
The Renger Van Der Zande, Rene Rast and Marc Goossens-driven Riley benefitted from periods of rain throughout the night and into the morning hours, including two lengthy safety car periods, but also a steady and near-flawless run.
Defending overall winners Tequila Patron ESM finished fourth with its No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and Pipo Derani, three laps behind the winning Cadillac after battling early electrical issues, a few spins and a pit lane penalty.
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca was fifth in class but a distant 13th overall, having benefitted by late-race retirement for the No. 81 DragonSpeed Oreca, after an accident by Ben Hanley with three hours to go.
Nearly all of the Gibson-engined LMP2 cars battled electrical issues, including the DragonSpeed entry and the No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca, with the pre-race favorite stopping on track in the second hour with a problem with its fly-by-wire throttle system.
The Anglo-Swiss squad returned to action before nightfall but called it quits in the closing stages.
Mazda also had a troubled debut, with the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P retiring with engine failure with four hours to go, while Spencer Pigot was running in 5th overall, and gearbox issues ultimately ending the No. 70 car’s day after early race clutch issues.
The No. 31 Action Express Cadillac, which starred in the hands of prototype debutant Seb Morris, finished fifth in class after multiple trips to the garage, including to fix a broken toe-link after contact with a Prototype Challenge car and a malfunctioning shift panel in the 14th hour.
ESM’s other entry, which led though portions overnight, crashed out of contention after Brendon Hartley made contact with the No. 991 TRG Porsche 911 GT3 R of Wolf Henzler, which cost the team more than 25 laps with repairs.
The No. 22 Nissan finished 17th overall and seventh in the P class.
PC stalwarts Performance Tech Motorsports, meanwhile, broke through for its long-awaited first class victory in WeatherTech Championship competition.
Nick Boulle took the team’s Oreca FLM09 to a 22-lap victory in the five-car class, which all suffered varying levels of issues except for the dominant class-winning entry.
It came after a near-flawless run for Boulle, James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson.
The No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports entry, spearheaded by Johnny Mowlem and Trent Hindman, came home second, ahead of the sister No. 20 car, which finished a further 17 laps back in third.
Both of the Starworks Motorsport entries retired after numerous spins and accidents, which the BAR1 entries also contributed to in a brutal final 24-hour race for the spec prototypes.
RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona