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…

Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and Formula One embrace the United States

Verstappen Perez United States
Fatih Aktas/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images
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Last week, Red Bull Racing revealed its new car, the RB19, and a new relationship with Ford Motor Co. in an event in New York City complete with drivers Max Verstappen, Sergio Perez and team principal Christian Horner.

It’s the first Formula 1 team to launch in the United States for 2023, but even that small move of the needle reflects a major shift in the attitude of both F1’s management and their teams – and the extent to which the American audience has fully embraced the sport.

“It’s something fantastic and unique, for the sport to be able to break it into the U.S,” Perez told NBC Sports. “The market is huge and it’s a huge opportunity for everyone involved, for the drivers, for the team. It’s always a huge market.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Sergio Perez finished fourth in the Unites States Grand Prix, but he was first with the fans.  – Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

In 2023, Formula 1 will race three times in the United States and five times in North America. The Circuit of the Americas will host their 11th consecutive race in October before heading south to Mexico City. Miami returns for a second time in May on a temporary street course around the Hard Rock cafe and the third addition is in downtown Las Vegas in November.

With the Canadian Grand Prix on the schedule for June and the Brazilian Grand Prix in November, American fans are now in the ballpark of Europeans, who have eight events on the continent and one in England.

In 2022, Verstappen won every race in North America. He was kept from sweeping the hemisphere only by George Russell, who won in Brazil. That fact is less remarkable when one considers that Verstappen won 15 times in the season – nearly two-thirds of the races on the schedule.

By the time Formula arrived in Austin, Texas, for Round 20 of 23, Verstappen already had wrapped up his second consecutive championship.

“Sometimes it can be hard to replicate the season, but I think it’s the same as with the car, right? You always try to improve it,” Verstappen told NBC Sports. “And I always look at the little details that even when you have had a good race, you could have done better. And then of course you also learn from the bad races. So we always try to look for these little improvements and general experience you gain year after year.

“You try to do better, but of course it also depends a lot on the package you have.”

Verstappen Perez United States
Max Verstappen United States Grand Prix win was one of 15 for the drivers and 17 for Red Bull.
(Gongora / NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Now Verstappen’s thoughts inevitably will turn to establishing a dynasty, and America will again play a pivotal role.

“I just enjoy what I’m doing,” Verstappen said.  “After the years in Formula One, when you have to be on top of your game and you gain a lot on your experience – in that sense nothing really can get to you anymore. Every year you just try to do the best you can. But a lot depends on the material around you. It’s always a bit of a guess. Start the season as fit as you can be and be well prepared. But if you don’t have the car, you’re not going to win the championship.”

Perez added two wins to Red Bull’s total, at Monaco and the Marina Bay Street course. With two of the US 2023 races on street courses, Perez hopes to close the gap on Verstappen and potentially be his chief rival for the championship.

“The strategy is clear; it is to maximize the potential of the car – and we believe we have a good car, but how good?,” Perez said “We don’t know what the competition is doing. We just give our best in building this car and we hope that it’s good enough to get us to win races.

“I think we have to work together as a team. At the same time. We both want to win the championship. It’s just having good compromise. The competition will be really strong out there, so we really need everything we possibly can get from each other.”

Formula One returns to the United States for Round 6 and the Miami Grand Prix on May 7.