The 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona came down to a late race restart and a breathless exchange of splash and dash pitstops in the final hour.
The final hour began with a final caution of the race, brought out after the #45 Magnus Racing Porsche lost a tyre. The period behind the safety car bunched up the top for Daytona Prototypes on the lead lap, Max Angelelli leading Juan Pablo Montoya, Joao Barbosa and A.J. Allmendinger.
As the green flag flew both Action Express Racing driver Barbosa and Michael Shank Racing’s Allmendinger leapt past Montoya, but the pair came together at the International Horseshoe, Allmendinger search for a way around the outside of Barbosa, the Portuguese resisting the move, easing Allmendinger out onto the grass.
The brief excursion forced Mike Shank’s strategical hand, and the #60 was pulled into the pits within a few laps simply to clear the grills on the front of the Ford-Riley, the stop dropping them to fourth. However, they were lifted back up to third when Barbosa was assessed a penalty for jumping the restart.
That reduced the battle for victory to a two horse race. Unsurprisingly Montoya romped into the lead, pulling away from Angelelli. However, both would ultimately have to make a final splash and dash fuel stop.
Montoya’s pit visit put Angelelli in the lead with just seven minutes of the 24 hours remaining, but the Wayne Taylor Racing team opted for the conservative (or perhaps wise) approach, forfeiting their chances of victory to make sure of second place by making their own splash-and-dash stop. Angelelli would bring the Velocity WorldWide sponsored car home second, Allmendinger third for the defending Rolex 24 champions.
There were similar late pitstops at the head of the GT field. Both Anthony Lazzaro and Rene Rast pitted from the top two places in class early in the hour, but the stops gave them the security to charge while others where trying to eke out their remaining fuel.
Unabashed Rast moved forward, picking off the fuel savers and taking advantage of those who had to make their final stops from the places ahead of him, Damien Faulkner, for example giving up second place in the Alex Job Racing Porsche to make his stop. That move removed the chances of an unorthodox AJR 1-2 with Filipe Albuquerque leading in the team’s Audi R8, but he too would have to make his final stop.
But such was his advantage that he maintained the lead, becoming the head of an R8 1-2-3 ahead of Markus Winkelhock for Rum Bum Racing and a rampant Rast. While the two Germans battled for the lower steps on the podiums Albuquerque stole just enough of a lead to bring home the class win.
Rast took second on the final lap, driving right around the outside of Winkelhock on the infield, but perhaps the ease of the move was a portent of the lack of fuel in the Rum Bum car, Winkelhock running out almost within sight of the checkered flag leaving the final sport on the podium the #69 Ferrari squad.
Away from the drama – though they made their own late stop – Napleton Racing completed their serene progress to the GX class win, leading home Bullet Racing by ten laps.
2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona Daytona Prototype Podium winners
1 – #01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates BMW-Riley
Scott Dixon, Charlie Kimball, Juan Pablo Montoya, Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas
2 – #10 VelocityWW Corvette DP
Max Angelelli, Ryan Hunter-Reay, Jordan Taylor
3 – #60 Michael Shank Racing Ford-Riley
A.J. Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, Ozz Negri Jr., John Pew, Justin Wilson
2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona GT Podium winners
1 – #24 Audi Sport Customer Racing/Alex Job Racing Audi
Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, Dion von Moltke
2 – #52 Audi Sport Customer Racing/APR Motorsport Audi
Ian Baas, Marc Basseng, Rene Rast, Frank Stippler
3 – #69 AIM Autosport team FXDD with Ferrari Ferrari
Emil Assentato, Guy Cosmo, Anthony Lazzaro, Nick Longhi, Mark Wilkins
2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona GX Podium winners
1 – #16 Napleton Racing Porsche
Nelson Canache, David Donahue, Shane Lewis, Jim Norma
2 – #22 Bullet Racing Porsche
James Clay, Darryl O’Young, Daniel Rogers, Seth Thomas, K Thomas
3 – #38 BGB Motorsports Porsche
Lee Davis, Ryan Eversley, Eric Foss, Jeff Mosing, John Tecce