Wayne Taylor Racing has claimed back-to-back Rolex 24 at Daytona victories with a controlling run in Sunday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opener, which achieved a new distance record.
Kamui Kobayashi took the No. 10 Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac DPi-V.R to a 1-minute and 5-second win over the No. 77 Team Joest Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, overcoming several setbacks that befell the defending race winners.
An impressive early stint by the Toyota LMP1 driver put the Cadillac into the lead in the third hour ahead of the pole-sitting Mazda DPi driven by Tristan Nunez.
While exchanging the lead into the evening, the No. 10 Cadillac DPi held control from the halfway mark until Ryan Briscoe was forced to serve a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for running the red light at pit out during the race’s fourth full course caution in the 19th hour.
Briscoe, who made an unscheduled drive through the pit lane for power steering-related issues prior to the penalty, mounted an impressive comeback drive, retaking the lead from the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi of Joao Barbosa with four hours to go.
Kobayashi completed a final triple stint in WTR Cadillac to complete 833 laps, surpassing the previous distance record of 808 laps that was achieved in 2018.
It marked the team’s third Rolex 24 win in the last four years and has retained Cadillac’s undefeated record in DPi machinery in the Florida endurance classic.
Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande become two-time Rolex 24 winners, with IndyCar ace Scott Dixon picking up his third overall win and fellow Ford GT refugee Briscoe claiming his first outright win in the race.
Mazda Team Joest got both of its Multimatic-built DPis to the finish of a 24-hour race for the first time, recording second and sixth place finishes.
The No. 77 Mazda of Jarvis, Nunez and Olivier Pla overcame a drive-through penalty for an illegal pass under yellow in the 11th hour, while the No. 55 car sustained damage after Harry Tincknell and Helio Castroneves came together at the Bus Stop in the fourth hour that led to a penalty for the Englishman.
Tincknell’s car would later go onto face a starter motor failure while under a yellow and a broken exhaust which led to turbo boost-related issues in the closing hours, which saw Tincknell and co-drivers Jonathan Bomarito and Ryan Hunter-Reay drop down the order.
The JDC-run, Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac of Barbosa, Sebastien Bourdais and Loic Duval completed the overall podium in third following a relatively trouble-free run.
It came despite running a higher downforce package to the race-winning WTR Cadillac, which saw the Minnesota-based team struggle in the cooler overnight hours.
Team Penske’s chances of victory was thwarted by incidents and damage to both of its Acura ARX-05 DPi cars, including Castroneves’ incident with Tincknell that required nearly 40 minutes of repairs to the No. 7 car, which put it 23 laps down at the time.
The No. 6 car of Simon Pagenaud and defending DPi champions Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron soldiered home to a fourth place finish despite having to shorten its stints due to a handling-related issue that saw the car continuously bottom-out.
JDC-Miller’s second Cadillac DPi, meanwhile, completed the top-five overall.
The lone Action Express Racing-run Cadillac DPi of Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Felipe Albuquerque and Mike Conway lost eight laps in the 20th hour when the car went behind the wall due to chronic gearbox issues.
It was running fifth at the time and ended up seventh in the overall results, ten laps ahead of the heavily delayed No. 7 Penske Acura DPi.
RESULTS: Rolex 24 at Daytona