Last weekend, America’s premium endurance race, the Rolex 24 at Daytona took place. The great 24 hour race is a real test of speed and endurance. It appears that the days of the parade finishes at these endurance races are over. For many years, it was not unusual to see orchestrated finishes where cars of similar makes or teams would slow down to find each other on the final lap in order to cross the line in 1-2 or even 1-2-3 finishes. In those days the races were decided by laps, these days the races are decided by seconds.
These close finishes were again exemplified by this year’s finish when on his ninth attempt, team owner Michael Shank finally won the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Michael Shank Racing team of Oswaldo Negri, John Pew, AJ Allmendinger and Justin Wilson in the Ford Riley survived a tight battle for the lead in the final hours with another Ford Riley driven by Ryan Dalziel, Alex Popow, Lucas Luhr, Allan McNish and Enzo Potolicchio to win the race by only 5.198 seconds. Michael Shank Racing also placed another car on the Overall and Daytona Prototype podium when the Ford Riley with Michael McDowell, Jorge Goncalvez, Gustavo Yacaman and Felipe Nasr finished third, on the same lap as the first and second place cars.
Michael Shank Racing’s Ford Powered Riley Wins the Rolex 24 at Daytona
The winning Ford-powered Riley Daytona Prototype car had an average speed of 126.300 mph and turned 761 laps for a total of 2709.16 miles. The number of laps completed by the winning car was one lap short of the Rolex 24 all-time record set in 1992.
It was interesting to watch the final hour of the race when the winning car was driven by a NASCAR driver, AJ Allmendinger. Allmendinger was recently signed by Roger Penske to drive in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
In the very competitive GT class, the Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 with team owner John Potter, Andy Lally, Richard Lietz and Rene Rast took the class victory. In another NASCAR connection, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Rookie of the Year, Andy Lally took the wheel with just under two hours remaining and then passed the Brumos Racing Porsche GT3 to take the class victory. In the GT class Porsche GT3 cars finished 1-2-3, once again underlining that in endurance racing, Porsche cars are the favorites.
The results of the top 9 cars in the Daytona Prototype class and the number of laps completed are shown below:
1. John Pew/Oswaldo Negri Jr./AJ Allmendinger/Justin Wilson, Ford/Riley, 761.
2. Enzo Potolicchio/Ryan Dalziel/Alex Popow/Lucas Luhr/Allan McNish, Ford/Riley, 761.
3. Michael McDowell/Felipe Nasr/Jorge Goncalvez/Gustavo Yacaman, Ford/Riley 761.
4. Scott Dixon/Juan Pablo Montoya/Dario Franchitti/Jamie McMurray, BMW/Riley, 760.
5. Darren Law/David Donohue/Christian Fittipaldi, Corvette DP, 758.
6. Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas/Graham Rahal/Joey Hand, BMW/Riley, 757.
7. Brian Frisselle/Burt Frisselle/Jim Lowe/Paul Tracy/Billy Johnson, Ford/Dallara, 748.
8. Antonio Garcia/Richard Westbrook/Oliver Gavin/Jan Magnussen, Corvette DP, 746.
9. Terry Borcheller/JC France/Joao Barbosa/Max Papis, Corvette DP, 739.
The results of the top 8 cars in the GT Class and the number of laps completed are presented below:
1. John Potter/Andy Lally/Richard Lietz/Rene Rast, Porsche GT3, 727.
2. Steven Bertheau/Marc Goossens/Wolf Henzler/Spencer Pumpelly/Jeroen Bleekemolen, Porsche GT3 727.
3. Leh Keen/Andrew Davis/Hurley Haywood/Marc Lieb, Porsche GT3, 726.
4. Robin Liddell/John Edwards/Ronnie Bremer, Chevrolet Camaro GT.R, 726.
5. Toni Vilander/Olivier Beretta/Andrea Bertolini, Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, 726.
6. James Hinchcliffe/Sylvain Tremblay/Dario Franchitti/Jonathan Bomarito, Mazda RX-8, 722.
7. Dominik Farnbacher/Ben Keating/Patrick Pilet/Allan Simonsen, Porsche GT3, 721.
8. Emil Assentato/Jeff Segal/Nick Longhi/Anthony Lazzaro, Ferrari 458 Italia Grand Am, 716.