The Action Express Racing team of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastian Bourdais and Burt Frisselle have won the 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona after an eight minute shootout after a late caution.
Drama – and controversy – reigned behind.
The finale was preceeded by the #22 Alex Job Racing GTD Porsche going off at the International Horseshoe, nosing into the tyres, doing light damage to the front of the car, though it was able to drive away. However, organisers threw a full course caution, but that was just the beginning of the drama late on.
The yellow compressed the gaps in three classes – P, GTLM and GTD to next to nothing. Patrick Pilet in the GTLM leading Porsche arguably came off worst as it removed a margin of a better part of a lap between him and Joey Hand in the #56 BMW Team RLL run Z4.
When the green flag flew with eight minutes of racing remaining the presence of the Muscle Milk Pickett Racing car between the two race leaders gave Barbosa the ability to drive away, Max Angelelli unable to pass Klau Graf in the ORECA-Nissan until the green flag flew as they rounded NASCAR turns three and four – for contrast the acceleration zone begins exiting the Bus Stop chicane.
The buffer allowed him to escape, but he was able to further extend his advantage over the closing laps, just as had – largely – been doing before the final caution.
In GTLM, both Hand and Pilet had to settle their own fight around slower GTD class traffic and it was one of the slower cars that would deal the decisive blow when it drifted up the banking entering NASCAR turn one, blocking off Hand’s route past, robbing him of just enough momentum to allow Pilet to escape to a deserved win for the Porsche North America team on their race debut.
In GTD the final yellow put Markus Winkelhock right on the tail of Alessandro Pier Guidi’s Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari 458.
On the first lap back to green the pair made slight contact at the Bus Stop, Winkelhock immediately reporting bent steering in the Flying Lizard Motorsports’ #45 Audi R8 as he began to fall away from the Ferrari. Pier Guidi then made a mistake at the Bus Stop, moving through the grass, allowing the apparently wounded Audi back to the lead. Pier Guidi quickly put the Ferrari’s superior top speed to good use, retaking the lead around the banking before diving into the infield at turn one.
Winkelhock – trying to avenge the disappointment of Dayton in 2013, when he ran out of fuel while leading in the closing minutes – fought back, pulling up alongside the Ferrari as the pair raced towards the high speed kink side by side. Unsurprisingly two cars through the kink didn’t work, Winkelhock forced wide onto the grass, barely managing to maintain control of the car.
Pier Guidi looked to have won the class, but the incident was quickly placed under review and then Pier Guidi was assessed a stop+75 second penalty for avoidable contact – though there was no contact – giving Winkelhock and the rest of the Flying Lizard team the class win, and Audi class victory at Daytona for the second consecutive year.
After a dominant display that, conversely, started with Jon Bennett facing the field on the very first lap of the race CORE Autosport won the PC class by a lap over 8Star Motorsports’ team.
2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona standings after 24 hours
#5 Action Express Racing – Corvette DP – Barbosa/Fittipaldi/Bourdais
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing – Corvette DP – W. Taylor/R. Taylor/J. Taylor/Angelelli
#9 Action Express Racing – Corvette DP – Frisselle/Frisselle/Martin/Giroux
#54 CORE Autosport – ORECA FLM09 – Bennett/Gue/Braun/Wilkins
#25 8Star Motorsports – ORECA FLM09 – Potolicchio/Kimber-Smith/Marsal/Huff
#38 Performance Tech Racing – ORECA FLM09 – Booth/Drissi/Casagranden/Campos/Matos
#911 Porsche North America – Porsche 911 – Tandy/Lietz/Pilet
#56 BMW Team RLL – Z4 GTE – Mueller/Edwards/Rahal/Werner
#91 SRT Motorsports – SRT Viper – Farnbacher/Goossens/Hunter-Reay
#45 Flying Lizard Racing – Audi R8 LMS – Canache Jr/Pumpelly/Pappas/Winkelhock
#58 Snow Racing – Porsche 911 – Heylen/Snow/Seefried
#72 SMP/ESM – Ferrari 458 – Rotenberg/Zlobin/Mediani/Salo/Aleshin