DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wayne Taylor Racing rebounded from a penalty Sunday to defend its Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona championship, winning the prestigious sports car event for the fourth time.
Kamui Kobayashi drove the No. 10 Cadillac for the race’s final three hours, winning by more than a minute over the No. 77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis (who had started from the pole position in the 58th running of the endurance racing classic) in a record-breaking finish.
The winning entry completed 833 laps, smashing the previous lap record of 808 set in 2018. There were six caution flags as the smallest field (38 cars) in the race’s 59-year history set a blistering pace (particularly during a seven-hour green-flag run for seven hours overnight).
Kobayashi was teamed in the race for the second consecutive year with Renger van der Zande, and they were joined this year by five-time IndyCar champion Scott Dixon and new full-time driver Ryan Briscoe.
It was the third Rolex 24 win in the past four years for Wayne Taylor Racing, but it seemed in doubt when Briscoe committed a pit violation with five and a half hours remaining by missing a red light at the end of the pits during the race’s fourth caution. After serving a 60-second penalty, Briscoe fell from first to fourth, handing the lead to the No. 5 Cadillac.
But a fifth yellow put the car back on the lead lap, and Briscoe charged back to second on the 3.56-mile road course. He retook the lead during a pit stop, and Kobayashi drove it to victory lane.
The victory put team owner Wayne Taylor two short of Chip Ganassi’s record of six Rolex 24 overall wins. Taylor, who also won the race twice as a driver, was campaigning a car at Daytona without sons Jordan and Ricky for the first time in a decade.
“There are so many people — this team, the drivers — when they come into this little team of ours, they are so focused and so passionate about winning and fortunately we are really bad losers,” Taylor said. “I got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, Renger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. I mean the guy is a superstar.
“I am so relieved, that’s the best way I can say it.”
In one of the race’s rare incidents, the No. 7 Acura of Team Penske was eliminated from contention when Harry Tincknell spun Helio Castroneves into a tire barrier in the Bus Stop section. Castroneves was steaming after the wreck, which occurred barely four hours into the race.
Through his AIM Vasser Sullivan Racing team struggled with a brake problem on its GTD entry, Kyle Busch was pleased by his Rolex 24 debut. The two-time NASCAR Cup champion finished the race in the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3. It was his fourth turn behind the wheel, which included a triple-stint Sunday morning.
“It’s all fun,” Busch said in an interview on the NASCAR on NBC Peacock Pit Box. “I try to relish in the moment, have some fun it with. Just go out there and enjoy. Obviously we’re not racing for a class victory. so that’s a shame. but for what we are doing, we got a job to do, and that’s to go out there and run hard, race hard. I’ve pretty much given it everything I’ve got about every lap I’ve been out there. I’ve been putting up some decent times compared to (veteran teammate) Jack Hawksworth.”
Here were the winners in the other divisions:
LMP2: No. 81 ORECA LMP2 of DragonSpeed USA
GTLM: No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing
GTD: No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing