Second straight challenging test day hits McLaren, Honda

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Not even a week ago at McLaren’s launch of its new MCL32 chassis, hopes were high about Honda’s power unit being a step forward for the year.

But Monday saw an oil system issue hamper Fernando Alonso’s first day of running this year at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona.

Things failed to improve on Tuesday for Stoffel Vandoorne’s first day with a full power unit change occurring today, and limiting the Belgian to the same number of laps – 29 – as his teammate, the two-time World Champion, completed on Monday. Following a change, Vandoorne completed 11 more laps for a total of 40 on the day.

It’s been a sincerely challenging start to say the least for both parties, who in their post-test release today explained today’s delay:

“After completing 29 laps, we lost power to the PU. Our priority was to minimize the loss of track time and continue with our testing program, so we took the decision to change it,” said Yusuke Hasegawa, Honda R&D Co. Ltd Head of F1 Project & Executive Chief Engineer. “We know we had a mechanical issue and we will not be reusing the power unit for this test, but we’ll have to investigate fully to identify the cause.

“Stoffel was back out on track by late afternoon and we were able to recover our schedule.

“Of course, it was disappointing to encounter further problems today, but tonight we’ll carry on our hard work to make further progress for Fernando’s session tomorrow.”

McLaren racing director Eric Boullier added, “It’s a shame we weren’t able to maximize the track time today due to the issue with the power unit, but it was encouraging once again that the team pulled together to replace the PU quickly in order to enable us to return to the track at the end of the afternoon session.

“When you design a new car and power unit under new regulations, it’s possible that there will be issues that arise that you cannot foresee in pre-season development. Of course, it’s unfortunate, but the important thing is that we learn from them, and there is already a lot of hard work going on behind the scenes by Honda to identify the issues and rectify them as soon as possible.

“Testing is just that: the prove-out of new components prior to the start of the season. We’ll continue with our planned test program tomorrow with Fernando, and keep pushing to make the most of the day’s running.”

With the back-to-back days of issues, McLaren Honda lags well behind the other nine teams in terms of lap count. Each team except McLaren has over 100 laps banked between the two days while combined, McLaren has just 69 official laps thus far – just three more than one-race distance at the Spanish Grand Prix.

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.