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31. Januar 2013, 19:06


The 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona justified the race’s reputation as one of motor sport’s truly great endurance competitions. In the final hours of the 2013 contest a clutch of cars had the chance to take the honours in both DP (prototype) and GT (touring) classes. Ultimately it came down to who had the best-prepared car, executed the most effective race strategy and above all was the most determined. In DP, it was the Chip Ganassi Racing #01 BMW Riley that came out on top, while in GT the #24 R8 of Audi Sport Customer Racing/AJR prevailed. In the new GX class, #16 Napleton Racing Porsche Cayman crushed its opposition.

Daytona Beach, FL, USA,31.1.13 RED-R (mk) The Rolex 24 At Daytona forms a part of the acknowledged Triple Crown of international endurance competition along with the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the 12 Hours of Sebring. It is a race that attracts renowned car manufacturers, committed teams and talented drivers. Winning this race requires the perfect package; it is no good simply having the fastest drivers or the fastest car.

High achievers
Chip Ganassi, principal of the overall winner, has often met the victory criteria in 10 years of competition at Daytona. His team won the Rolex 24 three times in a row between 2006 and 2008; it won again in 2011 and placed second in 2009 and 2010. Last year Ganassi was absent from the podium: “It made us go back and work harder”. An ethic reflected throughout the teams at the 2013 event, but particularly in the component parts of the most successful one, as Ganassi noted: “Everybody contributed, and everybody was part of the victory.”

Jordan Taylor, whose car #10 Velocity Worldwide finished second overall, felt that in any other year his team may have done enough to win: “Our team did a great job. We didn’t have a single mechanical problem the entire race. It was just fuel, tyres, and driver changes. Everyone executed the race.” It was not enough, he accepted: “Ganassi were in a class of their own”.

It made us
go back and
work harder
Chip Ganassi

It was not straight-forward, even if former Formula 1 ace Juan Pablo Montoya allowed himself the luxury of thinking: “We have a decent lead, I’m just going to go out there and ride for whatever is left” when taking his final turn at the wheel with two and a quarter hours to go.

Stop & go
Within 15 minutes debris on the track had forced the safety car out and the pack closed up. As cars pitted to load fuel, Montoya was overtaken by last year’s race winner #60 Michael Shank Racing. It took Montoya seven laps to re-pass. Five minutes later another car’s blown tyre left more debris, bringing out the safety car again, and compressing the leading cars.

Montoya’s team chose the moment to pit their car for fuel and tyres. #10 took advantage to grab the lead, making a strategic call to only pick up fuel. Anthony “AJ” Almendinger in #60 and Joao Barbosa in #9 Action Express Racing (a race winner in 2010) both profited from faster pit stops to emerge between Montoya and the leader.

After 23 hours of racing, the 24th would determine the result. The final act would be about nerve, skill, patience and desire.

Patience pays
That the Michael Shank car was in touching distance of the prize was remarkable. The car that spends the least amount of time in the pit generally wins this race. After less than an hour of racing Almendinger described how he was “going through the infield grass knocking down signs because a (steering) tie rod broke.” The repair cost the team seven laps. Co-driver, Justin Wilson, commented: “If you’d have told us then we could have a chance of finishing third we would have been over the moon.”

Montoya’s car had proved to have an edge over its competitors. During the cool hours of darkness, the drivers had been delighted with its handling, which “didn’t really change from daylight to night” according to co-driver Memo Rojas. Furthermore, the design team had to reduce drag, and their aerodynamic package was helping the car reach its top speed on the straights faster than the competition. Where it might have been at a disadvantage was on the tight infield section of the 3.56-mile racecourse. For any of the three remaining contenders to have a chance, whichever was leading needed traffic between itself and Montoya’s car. Or a mistake.

A split second impulsive decision proved decisive. Almendinger attempted to pass Barbosa on the outside of the hairpin; a resulting delicate touch was enough to send #60 off the track. Spewing dust and dirt everywhere the car looked more industrial earthmover than sleek racing machine. Both cars went to the pits. Michael Shank wasted precious time clearing debris from their car’s radiator ducts. Action Express Racing served a one-minute penalty for avoidable contact. #10 was left to face an irrepressible Montoya.

Montoya was patient, waiting for #9 to pull off for its penalty before tackling the leader. He took seven minutes to work his way past, and, despite the need for a rapid refuel in the last five minutes, held on to prevail.

The victory gave the Colombian, Montoya, and Rojas from Mexico their third win each at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Another of the quartet, Charlie Kimball scored his first on his debut. The fourth driver, Scott Pruett, entered the history books with his fifth overall win.

GT highlights
In the 33-car GT class, the fight to finish was just as tense. The need to put together a complete package was in stark evidence as pole winning #32 Konrad Motorsport damaged a tyre and retired with suspension problems after only six hours of racing.

#44 Magnus Racing led for 250 of the 678 laps completed by the leading GT cars. Driver Andy Lally was initially in a positive mood: “Running strong and leading the race in the first hour is a good shot in the arm for everybody.” A cautionary aside was prophetic: “We have to stay smart. You’ve got to keep focused.” In the last hour an error in pit strategy dropped the car from first to fifth.

NGT Motorsport #30 qualified second, but a technical irregularity put it to the back of the grid. The team did not give up, posting the fastest lap with 1:47.983: the only GT to break 1:48. Maintaining this impressive pace proved too much. The car retired on lap 535 due to steering problems.

As time counted down, six GT cars were together on the last lap. According to René Rast, driving #52 and a GT winner in the 2012 Rolex 24: “It was a heck of a finish.” Leading with just over an hour to go Rast was to lose by two seconds.

Winning strategy
Even the eventual winner almost blew it, drawing a 60 second penalty late on. When Felipe Albuquerque got into the car no one believed they could win. Still, he was told to get in the car and “push like hell”. So he did. A lap down with an hour to go, the team kept the car out while others pitted and got back on the lead lap. 20 laps later, Albuquerque was again told to stay out while the leaders made stops for tyres and fuel. The plan was to build a gap that would survive a final stop for fuel. The bigger question was whether the car would survive mechanically.
We had a great team.
It came down
to everyone doing
their job
Dion von Moltke

“I was doing qualifying laps. I didn’t care about the tyres. I didn’t care about anything. Then the gearbox started to act funny. I was getting slow and braking at the chicane was a nightmare,” explained Albuquerque. It all came down to a ‘splash and dash’, a fast pit stop where the crew would load as much fuel as possible in ten seconds. It was win or bust.

Co-driver Dion von Moltke was stunned by their victory, but pointed to its foundation: “We had a great team. It came down to everyone doing their job.”

In the nascent six car GX class, #16 Napleton Racing dominated the weekend, winning pole, posting the fastest lap in class and finishing 10 laps ahead of their nearest rival. Driver David Donohue, who won the closest finish in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona back in 2009, praised his team: “For us it was a race of preparation. Our team did a superior job when this programme was conceived in building this car and making it reliable.”

The 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona is scheduled for 25-26 January 2014.

The 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona in numbers:
57 cars started, 30 cars were still running after 24 hours
Distance driven by winning DP car #01: 709 laps/2, 524 miles
Average speed of winning DP car #01: 105.167 miles per hour
Laps led by winning DP car #01: 421
Most laps led by any single driver: 205 by Scott Pruett in #01
Winning margin in DP class: 21.922 seconds
Fastest lap: 1:41.177/126.669 miles per hour in lap 293 by #02 in DP
Longest period under caution: 1 hour 45 minutes due to fog
5th win in 10 attempts by Chip Ganassi Racing
5 overall wins by Scott Pruett matches the record of Hurley Haywood

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#67, TRG, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup 67, TRG, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup, Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Emmanuel Collard, Romain Dumas - 72, Park Place Motorsports, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup, Mike Vess, Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps, JF Dumoulin, Mike Skeen - 9, Action Express Racing, DP, Corvette DP, Mike Rockenfeller, Burt Frisselle, Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa- Rolex 24 At Daytona Daytona Beach, FL, USA January 26 - 27, 2013 back to photo gallery Share on printShare on email Share on twitterShare on facebook Contact #67, TRG, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup 67, TRG, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup, Tracy Krohn, Nic Jonsson, Emmanuel Collard, Romain Dumas - 72, Park Place Motorsports, GT, Porsche GT3 Cup, Mike Vess, Chuck Cole, Grant Phipps, JF Dumoulin, Mike Skeen - 9, Action Express Racing, DP, Corvette DP, Mike Rockenfeller, Burt Frisselle, Christian Fittipaldi, Joao Barbosa Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

The ferris wheel conveniently colour coordinates with #50, Highway to Help 50, Highway to Help, DP, BMW Riley, Carlos de Quesada, Jim Pace, Byron Defoor, Frank Beck, Ian James - Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

GT #24 makes a pit stop 24, Audi Sport Customer Racing/ AJR, GT, Audi R8 GRAND-AM, Filipe Albuquergue, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, Dion von Moltke

Action on the track with #10, VelocityWW 10, VelocityWW, DP, Corvette DP, Max Angelelli, Jordan Taylor, Ryan Hunter-Reay

View from the start tower of the GT Class Start of the GT Race Photo By: Rolex / Tom O'Neal

The 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona 2013 champion's trophy Rolex 24 At Daytona 2013 Champion Trophy Photo By: Rolex / Tom O'Neal

Race start for the DP class Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper

Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Coope- Racing by night Race

#52, Audi Sport Customer Racing/APR Motorsport Ltd.UK 52, Audi Sport Customer Racing/APR Motorsport Ltd.UK, GT, Audi R8 GRAND-AM, Frank Stippler, Rene Rast, Ian Baas, Marc Basseng

Photo By: Rolex / Stephan Cooper- Audi wins in GT at the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona 24, Audi Sport Customer Racing/ AJR, GT, Audi R8 GRAND-AM, Filipe Albuquergue, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, Dion von Moltke