At the end of 24hrs of racing the finish saw the closest winning margin in the races history between the #3 and #4 Corvette racing cars of Oliver Gavin and Antonio Garcia at a mere 0.034 seconds!
“What you saw today was simply the two best road racers in the world with the two best cars in the world,” said Doug Fehan, Corvette Racing program manager. “You’d be hard pressed to find a better race than this. You don’t spend 23.5 hours working this hard and not let those guys continue to race”
Garcia got a run coming out of the bus stop on the final lap, but came up just short in a drag race to the stripe giving the win to Gavin and co-drivers Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler. Garcia and co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller finished second, while Bamber rounded out the podium in the #912 Porsche North America entry along with Michael Christensen and Frederic Makowiecki.
JDC-Miller Motorsports scored a breakthrough for its first Prototype Challenge victory, dominating the class in the #85 Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Red Line Oil ORECA FLM09 shared by Chris Miller, Misha Goikhberg, Stephen Simpson and Kenton Koch.
The Prototype Challenge leading #85 Miller Motorsports team survived a scare at the 15-hour-mark when Kenton Koch spun in Turn 6 on cold tyres and impacted the barrier while leading the class by 19 laps. The team lost 10 laps making repairs.
“Cold tires and a tired head,” Koch said of the incident. “It was a mistake and I felt terrible about it. I’ve never driven so slow in my life to make it the finish line. We were pretty far ahead, so we played it safe and made it to the end.”
The GT Daytona finish was equally thrilling with fuel strategy playing an integral role in the finish. The #28 Konrad Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Fabio Babini passed Rene Rast’s #44 Audi Tire Center Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 with nine minutes remaining, but ran out of fuel with only three minutes remaining in the 24-hour race.
Rast was able to conserve enough fuel to finish 3.048 seconds ahead of Nicky Catsburg’s #540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R to win, joined by co-drivers Andy Lally, John Potter and Marco Seefried. Catsburg meanwhile was joined by Patrick Long, Timothy Pappas and Andy Pilgrim in the runner-up finish.
“I think it was one of my hardest stints ever in my life,” said Rast of his final race-winning stint. “The radio was constantly in my ear telling me how many turns I had left, go faster, but save more fuel. It's so hard to go slower than to go fast, and I had to adapt myself every single lap."
“I saw the Porsche coming and they told me to let the Lamborghini pass, and I said ‘That's not the way how we're going to win.’ It was a big, big team effort. They always knew what they were doing, and I really appreciate the work.”
The winning car completed 736 laps on the 3.56-mile circuit, 2,620.16 miles, with the competitive race featuring 76 lead changes. The 22-year-old Pipo Derani took the lead with one-hour, 17-minutes remaining and pulled away down the stretch to lead the #2 Tequila Patrón ESM to victory in the 54th Rolex 24 At Daytona, capping off a sensational race in the opening round of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“The last two hours and a half was pretty tough, pretty intense, with the Taylor brothers pushing us really hard trying to victory,” Derani said. “I was trying to not make any mistakes and keep the gap. To increase the gap up to the end was amazing. I need to thank my team for the amazing car they gave me”
There was also some close racing to be found in the pit lane!!
Along with some fantastic sights from around the track.
Images from IMSA.COM