In an entry that was only confirmed in the week before the race Mark Blundell and Michael Valiante finished a creditable sixth in the Grand Prix of Miami Grand-Am Rolex Series race. The finish followed a surprise fourth place at the Rolex 24 at Daytona – the first race of the season.
That finish prompted the Anglo-American United Autosports team to add another race in the Daytona Prototype to the plan, again running with assistance from Michael Shank Racing.
The no.23 Ford engined Riley started the 165 minute race from the fourth row of the grid after Mark Blundell qualified the car. The session was his first qualifying outing in the car, Martin Brundle having wheeled the car in Daytona time trials.
Starting the car Blundell made his way to third inside the first half hour of racing, pitting during the race's first yellow flag period and restarting in second, Blundell still behind the wheel. Running second the main incident of the race – as far as United Autosports' race is concerned – occurred. Blundell was barged off the track by Memo Rojas in the no.01 Ganassi car.
Blundell, who called the move “totally unnecessary”, was forced across the kerbs and grass, rejoining ninth, Rojas was handed a drive-through penalty for his role in the incident.
Canadian Valiante, who took over shortly after the end of the first hour, brought the car back up the order. From eleventh he worked his way back up the order, until he was second with forty minutes remaining as the field lapped the 2.3 'roval' track under the race's third spell under caution. Valiante took the lead, passing Michael Shank Racing's sister no.60 car for the lead.
In the lead Valiante set the car's fastest lap (96.002mph) on lap 96. However, after pitting out of sequence earlier in the race his tyres began to degrade compared to those on the cars behind. Valiante faded in the closing laps, slipping to third after 102 laps and finally to sixth with just three of the eventual 116 laps left.
The result now puts United Autosports fifth in the DP class teams' points for the season with team co-owner Zak Brown talking up the chances of further Rolex outings for the team.
“Mark and Michael both did fantastic jobs behind the wheel,” said the American. “I watched every lap courtesy of SPEED TV and I was on the edge of my seat. Mike Shank and his crew did a great job giving us a fast race car and were great in the pits. It's a bit of a bummer not to win after leading the race in the closing stages but sixth place isn't too shabby. We're now placed fifth in the teams' standings which is incredible so we'll work like hell to keep the effort going and maybe get to Barber in addition to the other couple of races we will do later in the year.”