ESM, Corvette Headline Winners in a Dramatic Rolex 24

Photo: IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – A simply stunning 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona has ended with a dramatic finish and four popular winners in all four classes.

After dominating the majority of the race, Tequila Patron ESM has secured its second overall win in IMSA, first since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca at 2014.

Pipo Derani starred all race, the young Brazilian leading the driving charge along with other strong efforts from Johannes van Overbeek, Scott Sharp and Ed Brown in the team’s No. 2 Ligier JS P2 Honda.

The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP turned in a heroic effort of its own, down on pace by comparison, and then fighting some fumes in the final hour to even make the checkered flag.

Jordan Taylor drove more than expected given an illness, with Ricky Taylor, Max Angelelli and Rubens Barrichello completing the lineup.

Angelelli was transferred to a local hospital for further medical evaluation following the conclusion of the race. IMSA also confirmed as of 4:30 p.m. ET that he is conscious, stable and and being evaluated at a local hospital.

Another Corvette DP finished third, the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing entry driven by Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

GT Le Mans provided the grandstand finish, with the two Corvette Racing Corvette C7.Rs unleashed to battle among themselves for the class win. Correspondingly, they produced a 1-2 finish in class with Oliver Gavin managing to hold off the hard-charging Antonio Garcia.

Gavin shared the No. 4 Corvette with Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler.

GT Daytona also featured its share of drama with Konrad Motorsport’s No. 28 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 running out of fuel from the lead in the final three minutes, and the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS making to the line on fumes to claim the team’s second Rolex 24 win (2012). John Potter, Andy Lally, Marco Seefried and Rene Rast shared the car, with Rast providing the expert fuel saving to bring it home.

In a war of attrition in Prototype Challenge, JDC/Miller Motorsports took its first IMSA win with Stephen Simpson, Kenton Koch, Mikhail Goikhberg and Chris Miller in the team’s No. 85 Oreca FLM09.

Koch, the IMSA Prototype Lites champion in his PC debut, went through a roller coaster ride with a fuel reserve issue and a crash that cost the team seven laps, but was the fastest driver of the quartet to win his debut. The win comes on the anniversary of his mom, Karen, getting a new heart – a group photo was taken this weekend for her.

More to follow…

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
IMSA
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in a thrilling final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”