Will Stevens misses FP1, but confirmed as Marussia reserve driver

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Will Stevens’ hopes of making his grand prix weekend debut at Suzuka were dashed today when the required paperwork failed to be processed, preventing him from taking part in FP1 for Marussia as planned.

However, the Anglo-Russian team did confirm today that Stevens has joined as its official reserve driver, working in tandem with American racer Alexander Rossi.

Like Rossi, Stevens was a member of Caterham’s young driver programme under the ownership of Malaysian businessman Tony Fernandes. However, his position became unclear following the sale of the team back in July, putting his F1 hopes on hold as he continued to race in the Formula Renault 3.5 championship.

A deal with Marussia was struck this week for Stevens to join as a reserve driver, with the team announcing the news today and confirming that the Briton will take part in “a number of Free Practice 1 sessions during the remainder of the season”.

“I’m really thrilled to be given this opportunity by the Marussia F1 Team,” Stevens said. “They are a great team, with enormous potential, and I’m so happy to be joining them at this exciting time in their development.

“Off the back of my F1 tests with Caterham, I can’t wait to get my first taste of the MR03. I’m looking forward to rewarding their faith in me and to making a positive contribution to our progress in the 2014 championship, and beyond.”

Team principal John Booth was pleased to confirm Stevens’ signing, saying that he had been a long-term target of Marussia.

“Will is a driver we have been watching since he arrived in Formula Renault,” he said. “We have admired his ability to learn quickly and compete in the thick of the action, so we are very pleased to add him to our roster of Official Reserve Drivers, which is now looking very strong indeed.

“It is great to be able to take such promising talents as Will and Alexander under our wing and help them progress to the next level. We look forward to seeing Will perform in the MR03, when I am sure he will demonstrate some further signs of his obvious potential.”

Stevens was unable to take part in free practice at Suzuka today as planned because of industrial action back in Germany, from where the paperwork was travelling.

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.