A cut tire on the second-place No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac sent Renger van der Zande to the pits with seven minutes remaining, opening the door for a third-consecutive Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for Wayne Taylor Racing.
Filipe Albuquerque took the checkered flag 4.704s ahead of Kamui Kobayashi in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac. It was a big day for the winning car owner, who had son Ricky joining Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi in his winning line-up. Meanwhile, younger son Jordan captured the finale GTLM victory in the Rolex 24 in a 1-2 finish for Corvette Racing.
The final hour began with the penultimate round of pit stops for the five DPi contenders.
Van der Zande did the undercut to take the lead in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, followed by Kobayashi in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac and Albuquerque in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura.
With 41 minutes left, van der Zande led Kobayashi by 0.671s in a battle of winning teammates for the past two year. Albuquerque was third (-4.774s). In GTLM, Alessandro Pier Guidi led in the off-sequence No. 62 Ferrari, followed by Corvette drivers Tommy Milner and Jordan Taylor. With 35 minutes left, Jordan Taylor passed Milner for second place behind Pier Guidi. The Ferrari pitted with 20 minutes left, putting the Corvettes 1-2.
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The top two DPi competitors made their final stops with 33 minutes remaining, with van der Zande beating Kobayashi out of the pits. Albuquerque and Tincknell pitted on the following lap. Albuquerque’s shorter fill helped him retain the lead entering the final half-hour, giving him a 6.477s advantage over the Ganassi Cadillac.
Albuquerque’s stop was more than six seconds quicker than van der Zande. However, the Acura driver only took on two tires. Van der Zande quickly began slicing into the lead. With 26 minutes remaining, the Acura led by 4.442s. With 20 minutes left, it was 1.966s – while Jordan Taylor in the No. 3 led Corvette teammate Milner by 1.573s.
Van der Zande caught Albuquerque with 16 minutes left. They ran side by side through the infield, with Albuquerque holding on.
“I think [Renger] has a lot of motivation to get ahead of the 10 car,” car owner Chip Ganassi said. “We have two guys who know how to win this race.”
Van der Zande charged again, but with 7:32 minutes left, the battle was over, as the Ganassi Cadillac limped to the pits with a deflated right-rear tire. The put Tincknell in second, 5.562s back, followed by Kobayashi. The Japanese driver took second in the closing minutes.
The younger Taylor took GTLM honors in the No. 3 Corvette, with Milner 3.519s back. August Farfus took third in the No. 24 BMW, followed by the Ferrari of Pier Guidi.
Mercedes-AMG took its first Rolex 24 class victory, with Maro Engel winning in GTD in the No. 57 Winward Racing entry. Raffaele Marciello was second in the No. 75 Sun Energy 1 entry to give Mercedes a 1-2 finish.
Paul-Loup Chatin prevailed in a back-and-forth final hour to win in LMP2 driving the No. 18 WIN Autosport ORECA. Gabriel Aubry was 19.513s back in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA.
Spencer Pigot finished up in a dominant victory in the debut of the LMP3 class, driving the No. 74 Riley Motorsports/74 Ranch Resort Ligier. Joao Barbosa took second in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier, three laps down.
Full report to follow.