A long 24 hours, made even longer by 12 hours of cold temperatures, steady rain and 21 caution flags, was in spite of this a memorable 55th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, one of the most exciting in recent memory.
The No. 5 Cadillac DPi of regular drivers Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi, helped out for this long race by Filipe Albuquerque, battled long and hard with the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi of brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, longtime co-driver Max Angelelli in his final race, and four-time Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, in his first Rolex 24 since his debut here in 2007. With seven minutes to go, Albuquerque was leading in the No. 5, with Ricky Taylor on his tail. At the end of the long front stretch, leading into a fast left turn, Taylor took the No. 10 car low and inside of Albuquerque. When the No. 5 set up for the left turn, Taylor hit the car in the rear, spinning it out. Albuquerque recovered quickly and at the end, finished only 0.671 seconds behind the No. 10. The incident was reviewed by IMSA officials who decided to take no action against Taylor.
Third place went to the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Multimatic/Riley LM P2 car of Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast.
In the other Prototype class, Prototype Challenge, it was slightly less compelling, with the No. 38 Performance Tech car finishing 22 laps ahead of second place, the No. 2 BAR1 car.
In the GT Le Mans class the win went to the team of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, aided by IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais on the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, edging the No. 911 Porsche RSR (driven by Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner and Frederic Makowiecki) by less than three seconds. Third was the strong-running No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE driven by James Calado, Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander, followed by the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Corvette Racing, with drivers Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.
In the GT Daytona class, last year’s decision to adopt the global GT3-class rules has generated more interest from manufacturers, and more entries: The Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Lexus RC F GT3 made their WeatherTech Championship debuts here, and the Acura NSX GT3 has never raced anywhere until this weekend. Even so, the GT Daytona win went to the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 of Carlos de Quesada, his son Michael, Jesse Lazare, Daniel Morad and Michael Christensen, not a team among the early picks. Second was the No. 29 Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Christopher Mies, Jules Gounon, Connor De Phillippi and Jeffery Schmidt, just 0.293 seconds behind the winning Porsche. Third was the top-finishing Mercedes, the No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG car of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mario Farnbacher and Adam Christodoulou.