In his second start in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, Fernando Alonso led the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Cadillac DPI team to victory along with Kamui Kobayashi, Jordan Taylor and Renger van Der Zande. Alonso took the lead from Felipe Nasr two laps from the end of a race which was shortened by rain.
Nasr lost the lead to Alonso when he failed to navigate Turn 1 giving up a 1.5-second lead. By the time he got his car under control, Alosno had a 12 second advantage.
Alexander Rossi was the only other driver to finish on the lead lap in third.
The 2019 race was in sharp contrast to last year. One year after the Rolex 24 set a record for the fewest cautions and most laps run of 808, this year’s race was limited to 593 laps – making it the shortest Rolex 24 in history. Two years ago rain also plagued the 2017 edition that was concluded on the 659th lap.
Rain began to fall with 10 hours remaining and never let up.
The first red flag waved during the middle of the night during the 14th hour. A second red flag with just under two hours remaining marked the first time this race was stopped twice. Track officials attempted to dry the track well enough to finish under green, but IMSA was forced to call the event with about 10 minutes left on the clock.
Alonso’s two Rolex 24 attempts were also in sharp contrast. Last year in his inaugural race, he finished 38th overall and 13th in the LMPA2 class. This year, he was flawless, taking the lead for the first time during his first stint during the fourth hour of competition. He cycled in and out of the lead for the remainder of the race.
Alonso joins Phil Hill (1964) and Mario Andretti (1972) as only the third Formula 1 champion to win the Rolex 24.
Alsonso won last year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. This May, he will attempt to complete the Triple Crown by winning the Indy 500.
Team Mazda appeared to be the biggest competition to the No. 10 until both the No. 55 and pole winning No. 77 had problems during the sixth hour. The No. 77 team led the field to green Oliver Jarvis after breaking a 26-year-old record. Timo Bernhard was behind the wheel when the car caught fire causing the retirement.
Alex Zanardi’s return to endurance racing got off to a bad start. At the beginning of his first stint, he encountered a problem changing his steering wheel 90 minutes into the race. Zanardi is using a special wheel with hand controls for the car, and the connecting pins were damaged when he attempted to connect it as the car was dropped from the jack. The No. 24 team finished 32nd overall and ninth in class.
Sebastian Saavedra and the No. 18 team won the LMPA2 class along with Scott Mayer, James Dayson and Alex Popow.
Augustus Farfus in the No. 25 won GTLM with co-drivers Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims and Bruno Spengler.
Christian Engelhart and the No. 11 team won in the GTD class with Rolf Ineichen, Roberto Pampanini and Miles Pavlovic.