Brake issue denies Sainz remarkable comeback result

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24 hours before the start of the Russian Grand Prix, Carlos Sainz Jr. was sat in a hospital bed following one of the most frightening crashes of his racing career.

And yet by the time the checkered flag had been shown at the Sochi Autodrom, the Spaniard was left ruing a brake failure that had denied him a big haul of points and a remarkable comeback result.

Sainz had crashed into the barrier at turn 13 during practice on Saturday morning, recording a force of 46G. However, he remained perfectly conscious throughout the accident, with his extrication only taking longer than usual due to the position of the TecPro barriers.

After being taken to hospital for a full body scan and other checks, Sainz was discharged on Saturday night and given the green light to take part in the race on Sunday by the FIA, starting 20th.

A superb fight through the field saw Sainz rise to as high as P7 late on, only for a brake failure to send him spinning off the track twice and deny him a chance to record his best F1 finish to date.

“What a disappointing way to end what was being such a good race, but I have to say that I’m happy I could race after what happened yesterday,” Sainz said on Sunday.

“Today’s was a good performance in difficult conditions. I started from P20, pushed hard and suddenly I found myself in P7… We could’ve even ended in P6!

“Towards the end of the race I was warned to look after my brakes as the temperatures were very high and I was managing to do that while still racing at a good pace. Unfortunately, with only eight laps to go the brakes said ‘enough’ at Turn 13 and that was the end of my race.

“I have to be thankful to the whole team, they did a great job for me to be racing out there today after yesterday’s crash. The car was in perfect conditions. Now I will certainly get some rest during the next couple of days!”

Max Verstappen inadvertently benefited from Sainz’s issue, finishing 11th on track before being promoted to P10 when Fernando Alonso was handed a post-race penalty.

The Dutchman was disappointed after a first-lap clash forced him to pit for repairs and compromised the rest of his race.

“I’m disappointed,” Sainz said. “It certainly wasn’t the best of race starts, as I got clipped because the cars in front of me crashed and from then on it was a very difficult race.

“I had a lot of damage on the car, especially at the rear, and it wasn’t behaving as it should’ve been. It was very difficult for me to continue, but we tried to, hoping we could get back into the points, even though in the end it wasn’t possible.”

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.