There was no shortage of excitement in the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
After an eventful 24 hours at Daytona International Speedway, Cadillac, Ford and Porsche emerged victorious from the first round of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the Prototype, GT Le Mans and GT Daytona classes, respectfully. However, all three manufacturers had to fight hard for the entire race in order to reach the checkered flag first.
A restart with less than one hour remaining backed up Wayne Taylor Racing’s No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R, with Ricky Taylor behind the wheel, into Action Express Cadillac’s No. 5 car. The two had less than a second between them, until Taylor forced himself up the inside of the No. 5 going into Turn 1 and they touched.
Filipe Albuquerque ended up facing the wrong way in the No. 5, while Taylor stormed off into the lead. The stewards investigated the incident, but determined no further action was necessary.
“They went for it, and I wasn’t going to budge,” Taylor told FOX Sports. “It’s the end of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, Cadillac’s debut and we want to be flying the American flag.”
Albuquerque recovered to finish P2, with the No. 90 Multimatic/Riley claiming the last spot on the podium.
WTR’s win is even more impressive, considering Jeff Gordon collided with one of the Mazda Prototypes while struggling with cold tires at the beginning of his first stint.
In the GTLM class, the racing was even closer, with just over 5 seconds seperating the top-five finishers. The Ford GTs were battling the Ferrari 488s for the lead most of the race, with Porsche and Corvette pressuring them at times.
Dirk Mueller in the No. 66 GT was chasing down Chames Calado in the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE in the final hour. Then, with roughly 30 minutes remaining, he made a move. Mueller sneaked up the inside of the No. 62 into Turn 1, forcing Calado to run wide. Patrick Pilet was close behind in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, and took advantage of Calado’s slow exit to assume second place heading into Turn 3.
All three cars would hold their position until the checkered flag came out.
Michael Christensen in the No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R claimed victory in the GTD class, but by the narrowest of margins. Christensen was dueling with the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Christopher Mies right up until the last lap, crossing the line 0.293 seconds ahead of Mies.
Jeroen Bleekemolen grabbed P3 in his No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3, edging out Lawson Aschenbach’s No. 57 Audi R8 LMS GT3 by 0.270 seconds.
Thumbnail photo via Jasen Vinlove/USA TODAY Sports Images