Grosjean’s challenge for points in China goes unfulfilled

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What appeared to be a good day for Romain Grosjean and Lotus ultimately proved to be a point-less one.

After qualifying 10th for the Chinese Grand Prix, the Frenchman was in the midst of his best run of the season Sunday at Shanghai until a terminal gearbox problem forced him to abandon his battle with Kimi Raikkonen for ninth.

Grosjean lost fourth gear initially on his No. 8 Lotus-Renault E22 and then lost more gears before he bowed out of the race at Lap 29.

“It’s the first time we’ve had a problem like this so we’ll have to understand what happened,” he said on Sunday. “It had been quite nice in the race as we’d been fighting for ninth position so we were in the points, which is a good improvement from before.”

It’s a hopeful sign ahead of the Spanish Grand Prix in May, for which upgrades to the chassis and engine are expected to debut.

“We have identified some further development with the power unit here so with the three weeks between this race and Spain, we’ll work with the team to capitalize on the potential,” said Renault support leader Laurent Debout.

Another bit of progress came from Pastor Maldonado, who brought his Lotus home in 14th after having to start 22nd due to missing qualifying on Saturday with issues on his power unit.

The Venezuelan made the biggest leap of all drivers on the grid, moving up eight positions – half of those coming off of a strong start.

“My pace wasn’t fantastic but at least we moved forwards and I pushed as hard as I could,” said Maldonado, who put an embarrassing wreck with Esteban Gutierrez at Bahrain behind him. “We will look at the data as we seemed to lack pace on the straights which made it difficult to overtake and also difficult to defend.

“It will be nice to have a race weekend without any problems, and that’s what we are all working for when we head to Europe.”

Final 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona results, points

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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

POINTS: Standings after Rolex 24 at Daytona l Michelin Endurance Cup standings l Daytona endurance points

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.