In 2017, Wayne Taylor Racing had a ton of attention surrounding them when Jeff Gordon joined the IMSA organization for a one-off in the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. They’d end up winning the prestigious race at the Daytona International Speedway that year.
Two years later, Fernando Alonso came on board and joined the hoopla. Alonso, and his WTR teammates would win the race for the second time in the last three years.
This year, the attention for WTR had fallen off. Shame on us for not putting Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe in that same category. Also, for the first time in year, Wayne Taylor didn’t have at least one of his sons racing for him. Ricky Taylor joined Team Penske a couple of years ago and his brother Jordan Taylor departed this offseason to drive a Corvette in the GTLM class.
You could call it a bit of a rebuild for WTR. No Gordon. No Alonso. Neither Taylor brother. But, they’d still return Zenger van der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi to go along with Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA cast offs in Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon.
CGR wouldn’t have their GT program anymore and for the first time in years, weren’t competing in Daytona. WTR was smart by bringing Briscoe in for a full-time entry in the No. 10 Cadillac and Dixon for the endurance races.
While all the attention went elsewhere, WTR would dominate.
The organization overcame a mistake when Briscoe took the car off course following a pit stop last night and then exiting pit lane while the red light was on which resulted in a 60-second penalty to win their third Rolex in the last four years.
They turned a race record 833 laps, up from last year’s record of 808 laps, en route to another dominating win. The race was stopped just six times for a grand total of 1-hour and 45-minute of caution periods. So, to make up for two mistakes and still win by over a minute was nothing short of remarkable. Kobayashi, drove the car on the final stint to the checkered flag first for his second straight win at Daytona in as many tries.
For van der Zande, it too was his second career Rolex. For the other two former Ganassi drivers, it was their fourth (Dixon) and third (Briscoe) respectively.
This was Dixon’s third outright overall victory as he ties Juan Pablo Montoya for second most ever. While Briscoe now has three Rolex watches in his collection, this was his first overall race win in Daytona.
The pole winning No. 77 Mazda that was driven by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Oliver Pla finished second while the No. 5 Cadillac that was piloted by Sebastien Bourdais, Joao Barbosa and Loic Duval rounded out the podium with a third place effort. Those were the only three on the lead lap.
The Penske duo had a rough go of it was the No. 6 Acura driven by Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Dane Cameron had some damage last night and had to settle for fourth. The second car, the No. 7 Acura, was involved in a crash at just the four hour mark when the No. 55 Mazda that at the time was being driven by Harry Ticknell, made an idiotic move when he tried to pass Helio Castroneves going into the bus stop early on in the race. There wasn’t enough room, plus Ticknell made his maneuver too late, which for the second time this weekend, sent the Acura into the tire barriers. It would take over a half an hour to get the car repaired enough to return to the track. It would finish last in class in eighth. The No. 55 Mazda came home sixth.
The other JDC Miller Motorsports entry (No. 85 Cadillac) rounded out the top five while the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing entry was seventh.
In the LMP2 Class, DragonSpeed won again with the No. 81 ORECA. They were the only ones on the lead lap as Ben Hanley took the No. 81 car past the checkered flag for the victory. His teammates were Henrik Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey.
The No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports car driven by Gabriel Aubry drove to a second place finish. His teammates were Ben Keating, Simon Trummer and Nick Boulle.
The No. 18 Era Motorsport car (Kyle Tilley, Dwight Merriman, Ryan Lewis and Nic Minassian) finished third while the No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks car finished fourth and the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry fifth.
For GTLM, the BMW Team RLL organization would win for a second consecutive year. This time, it was the No. 24 BMW that was being driven by John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert and Jesse Krohn. This battle came down to the final 60 minutes as the BMW team propelled over the two Porsche’s.
Krohn, passed Nick Tandy who was driving the No. 911 Porsche to take over the top stop just prior to the final pit sequence. That would be the race winning maneuver. Krohn’s car won by 13.5-seconds.
The No. 912 Porsche that was piloted by Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber and Mathieu Jaminet finished runner-up while Tandy, Matt Campbell and Frederic Makowiecki was third in the No. 911 entry.
The No. 3 Corvette driven by Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg and Antonio Garcia finished third while their teammate had some electrical issues near midnight and would finish last in class in seventh.
The team car for the BMW winners, the No. 25 BMW that was being driven by Colton Herta, Connnor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler and Philipp Eng finished fifth in class while the No. 62 Ferrari (James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon) was sixth.
In GTD competition, the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo would win with Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli being victors.
Another Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo from GRT Magnus Racing (John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Marco Mapelli) was runner-up in their No. 44 entry.
The No. 88 Audi R8 LMS GT3 driven by Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Daniel Morad and Dries Vanthoor rounded out the podium in third.
Kyle Busch’s debut was a solid one as he drove several stints to finish ninth in class and 26th overall.