Grosjean never expected to charge from 17th to 3rd

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The majority of the headlines may concern the newly-crowned world champion Sebastian Vettel, but Romain Grosjean produced the stand-out drive of the day at the Indian Grand Prix to charge from seventeenth to third thanks to a one-stop strategy.

Pirelli had warned against stopping just once during today’s race, but Lotus ignored this advice and it allowed Grosjean to battle through the field to finish on the podium thanks to the low levels of degradation on the prime tire. However, it came as a total surprise to the young Frenchman.

“No, I wouldn’t have bet a penny on me being on the podium today,” Grosjean explained. “I think the race pace was brilliant and we did a very brave strategy as we did yesterday. I think it was not the time to be safe, and it paid off, we’re back on the podium. It’s quite amazing from where we started and just the race was alright, tried to go through the field. It was tough until the end, I didn’t know when the tires were going to go off but the team did fantastic, very proud to be here.”

Lotus had been running as high as second during the race, but Kimi Raikkonen could not quite pull off the one-stop strategy like Grosjean and the Finn began to drop off the pace towards the end of the race. With a few laps to go, Grosjean looked to pass Raikkonen but he was forced wide, prompting an angry exchange over the radio between Raikkonen and his team before the Frenchman eventually made it past.

“Kimi was in a difficult situation and I went for the outside and he didn’t see that point,” Grosjean said. “I knew I had to be careful to my engine, I knew Massa had much fresher tires behind so I didn’t want to lose too much time. The good point is that I’m here on the podium and we scored good points for the team and we still have a very strong car for the upcoming races.”

Raikkonen pitted on the penultimate lap of the race to salvage seventh place and set the fastest lap of the race. For Grosjean though, this is his third consecutive third place finish, elevating him to seventh in the world championship as Lotus look to catch Mercedes and Ferrari in the battle for second place in the constructors’.

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, stats

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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — The 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona overall results were all streaks: two consecutive victories in the endurance classic for Meyer Shank Racing and three in a row for Acura.

And Helio Castroneves became the second driver to win three consecutive Rolex 24s and the first to win in three straight years (Peter Gregg won in 1973, ’75 and ’76; the race wasn’t held in ’74 because of a global oil crisis).

Starting from the pole position, Tom Blomqvist took the checkered flag in the No. 60 ARX-06 that led a race-high 365 of 783 laps with co-drivers Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud and Colin Braun.

RESULTS: Click here for the finishing order in the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona l By class

Meyer Shank Racing now has two Rolex 24 victories and the 2022 championship since entering the premier prototype category of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in 2021.

“I think what’s so special about this team is we are a small team compared to some of our opponents, but the atmosphere, the way we work, enables people to get the best out of themselves, and I think that’s why we’re such high achievers,” Blomqvist said. “I think there’s no egos. It’s a very open book, and that just enables each and every one of us to reach our potential. I think that’s why we’ve achieved so much success in really a short time at this level of competition.”

It’s the 16th IMSA victory for MSR.

The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona marked the debut of the Grand Touring Prototype category that brought hybrid engine technology to IMSA’s top level.

In other categories:

LMP2: James Allen passed Ben Hanley on the final lap and delivered a victory in the No. 55 ORECA by 0.016 seconds. It’s the second IMSA victory for Proton Competition, which last won at Sebring in 2012. It was the first Rolex 24 victory for Allen and co-drivers Gianmaria Bruni, Fred Poordad and Francesco Pizzi.

GTD Pro: Cooper MacNeil won in the last start of his IMSA career as the No. 79 Mercedes-AMG GT3 scored the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for WeatherTech Racing and the team’s fourth career victory.

MacNeil, who co-drove with Maro Engel, Jules Gounon and Daniel Juncadella, earned his 12th career victory and first at the Rolex 24.

“Winning by last IMSA race is tremendous,” MacNeil said.

GTD: The No. 27 Heart of Racing Team delivered the first Rolex 24 at Daytona for Aston Martin, which has been competing in endurance races at Daytona International Speedway since 1964. Drivers Marco Sorensen, Roman De Angelis, Darren Turner and Ian James (also the team principal) earned the victory in the English brand’s 13th attempt.

It’s also the first Rolex 24 at Daytona win for Heart of Racing, which has seven IMSA wins.

LMP3: Anthony Mantella, Wayne Boyd, Nico Varrone and Thomas Merrill drove the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 to victory by 12 laps for the team’s first class win in IMSA.


STATS PACKAGE FOR ROLEX 24 HOURS OF DAYTONA:

Fastest laps by driver

Fastest laps by driver after race (over the weekend)

Fastest laps by driver and class after race

Fastest lap sequence

Lap chart

Leader sequence

Race analysis by lap

Stint analysis

Time cards

Pit stop time cards

Best sector times

Race distance and speed average

Flag analysis

Weather report

NEXT: The 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season will resume with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring March 18 with coverage across NBC, USA and Peacock.