It was action right down to the line at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona as a late caution for a barbecued PC car caused a dash for the flag in the Prototype and GTLM classes.
The start of this stint saw a calm settle over the Floridian speedway with the only incident of note in the 21st hour being the start of a recurring series of stalls every time the #009 TRG Aston Martin Vantage tried to get off the infield and onto the banking.
That incident brought out a full course caution, but as soon as the safety car came out the #009 got going again so we had 15 minutes of caution period for no actual incident.
However, the one bonus to come out of it was the emergence of what would be two three hour battles between Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Ford EcoBoost and the Taylor brothers in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP as well as the #4 Corvette and the #25 BMW Team RLL Z4.
Unfortunately for one side of the Ganassi garage, that strong form couldn’t be replicated as a clutch problem for the #01 saw it initially go behind the wall for about 30 minutes to fix a clutch problem which would eventually become the car’s undoing and would lead into retirement – a big shame for all, especially Sage Karam who showed he has a full time future in endurance racing.
At the same time in the Prototype class the best liveried car, the Michael Shank Ligier HPD, also went behind the wall for suspension issues – the car would eventually not finish after going off in a 5 minute window that will be fully explained further down.
Into the final hour of the race was when the hammer really went down up and down the field, Scott Dixon and Jordan Taylor were separated by about three car lengths for a good 30 minutes until they both went in for final splashes of fuel and the gap seemed to stick at four seconds in favour of the IndyCar racer.
With 20 to go, the chaos finally descended at Daytona, the first TV viewers saw of it was the #19 GT Daytona Porsche resting at the side of the track at the first infield corner with the Michael Shank Ligier off at the International Horseshoe.
A bit further down at the Bus Stop was the class leading CORE Autosport Prototype Challenge car which had a spin earlier in the lap and had now decided to give the Oreca a flame grilled finish as a result of Colin Braun spinning and clouting the wall.
That obviously brought out a full course caution but what was the bigger story was that the Wayne Taylor car, sitting right on the exhaust of the leader, had to pit for a driver change because – by some massive oversight – Jordan Taylor was about to go over the maximum allowed driver time and had to be replaced. The error cost them a chance at victory and eventually finished third behind the Action Express Racing entry of Sebastien Bourdais and the winning car of Scott Dixon.
The green flag with six minutes to go set up a tense finish between Antonio Garcia in the Corvette and Dirk Werner in the BMW. At points the Z4 was just about within drafting distance on the banking but it just didn’t have sheer grunt to be able to keep up with a Corvette team that has left Daytona with a 1-3 finish.
In PC, after the leader crashed out – he was classified third – there was not much competition between the winner Tom Kimber Smith and runner up Johnny Mowlem as they had a lap between them.
Finally is the always frantic GT Daytona class and the eventual winner was Dominik Farnbacher in the Dodge Viper that has dominated the entire race and was no match for runner up V8 Supercar star Shane Van Gisbergen in the #22 Porsche and third placed man Philipp Eng in another Porsche 911 GT America.