At the end of an epic 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona, it was the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Cadillac that came out on top ahead of the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac, with the battle going down to the wire.
An aggressive move with less than five minutes to go heading into turn one by Ricky Taylor on Filipe Albuquerque insured the #10 took over the lead of the race, with the #5 being hit and spun around as a result, and despite an investigation by the stewards, the move was deemed legal.
Taylor shared the car with his brother Jordan, as well as Max Angelelli – in his final race before retirement – and NASCAR legend Jeff Gordon, and the final margin of victory was just 0.671 seconds at the end of 24 hours of racing.
The victory ensures the Taylor brothers follow in the footsteps of father and team owner Wayne Taylor, who took his own victory in 2005, and puts the disappointments of previous close attempts behind them.
Albuquerque drove superbly until the end, not giving up on the dream of taking victory until the very end, with the Portuguese driver bringing the car he shared with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi home despite his late rotation.
The podium was completed by the #90 Visit Florida Racing Riley, with Marc Goossens bringing the car he shared with Renger van der Zande and Rene Rast home a lap down on the leading duo, with the pace of the Cadillac duo ahead of them ultimately too much for the trio to remain in contention for the win.
Honours in the PC class went the way of the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports machine, with Nicholas Boulle bringing the car he shared with Kyle Masson, Patricio O’Ward and James French home, twenty-two laps ahead.
Johnny Mowlem concluded his own career with the runners-up position in class in the #26 BAR1 Motorsports entry, with the Briton having shared the car with Adam Merzon, Trent Hindman, David Cheng and Tom Papadopoulos.
The #20 BAR1 Motorsports machine of Buddy Rice, Don Yount, Chapman Ducote, Mark Kvamme and Gustavo Yacaman completed the podium, although the final two PC machines – the two Starworks Motorsport entries – both retired.
The battle in both GT classes went down to the wire, with three different leaders in the final hour in GTLM, with the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry of Dirk Mueller coming out on top in what can only be described as an amazing battle for class honours.
Mueller, who shared the car with Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais, fought his way passed the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari of James Calado into turn one with around half hour of the race to go, with the two clashing door-to-door, with the move also allowing the #911 Porsche GT Team machine of Patrick Pilet to move into second.
Despite the pace of the new-for-2017 Porsche, the Ford had enough to maintain the lead until the chequered flag, while Pilet, who shared the car with Dirk Werner and Frederic Makowiecki, was forced to hold off the challenge of Calado, who partnered the retiring Toni Vilander and former Formula 1 racer Giancarlo Fisichella, across the closing laps as the Frenchman found his tyres fading after running Mueller close.
Such was the display of the GTLM runners, the top seven in class were covered by just 7.532 seconds, with Antonio Garcia, who led heading into the final hour only to find himself shuffled back at a restart, fourth for Corvette Racing ahead of the #69 Ford, #912 Porsche and #68 Ford.
The GTD battle was equally thrilling, but it was the #28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche of Michael Christensen, Jesse Lazare, Carlos de Quesada, Michael de Queseda and Daniel Morad winning by just 0.293 seconds from the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of Christopher Mies, Connor de Phillippi, Jules Gounon and Jeffrey Schmidt.
Five cars were in contention for the class win until the end, with the #33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG Mercedes completing the podium just 5.579 seconds down on the class winner, with the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi fourth and the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura fifth, with the top five separated by less than 10 seconds.
Top 3 after 24 Hours
10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta – Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli, Jeff Gordon
5 Mustang Sampling Racing – Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi
90 VisitFlorida Racing – Marc Goossens, Renger van der Zande, Rene Rast
38 Performance Tech Motorsports – James French, Patricio O’Ward, Kyle Masson, Nicholas Boulle
20 BAR1 Motorsports – Don Yount, Buddy Rice, Mark Kvamme, Chapman Ducote,Gustavo Yacaman
26 BAR1 Motorsports – Tom Papadopoulos, Johnny Mowlem, Adam Merzon, Trent Hindman, David Cheng
66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais
911 Porsche GT Team – Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Frederic Makowiechi
62 Risi Competizione – Toni Vilander, Giancarlo Fisichella, James Calado
28 Alegra Motorsports – Michael Christensen, Carlos de Quesada, Michael de Quesada, Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare
29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsports – Connor De Phillippi, Jules Gounon, Jeffrey Schmidt, Christopher Mies
33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG – Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Mario Fernbacher, Adam Christodoulou