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Car Show: 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona

2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona

Daytona Beach, FL
Thursday, January 24, 2019
Photos by: Gary Rosier

Fernando Alonso seized his first overall win in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R along with teammates Jordan Taylor, Renger van Der Zande and Kamui Kobayashi. Alonso took over the lead just before the last caution when Felipe Nasr went wide in Turn 1 in the Whelen racing entry. Just moments after, the caution went out followed by the red flag that ended the event.

The No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE captured the GTLM win driven by Augusto Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta.

The GTD class victory was won by the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and the four man team of Christian Engelhart, Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Rik Breukers.

Sebastian Saavedra secured the LMP2 class in the No.18 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2, co-driven by Roberto Gonzalez, Pedro Maldonado and Ryan Cullen.

The race was called after almost 24 hours due to rain. Mechanical and weather problems tormented some of the race’s most familiar teams and drivers. Tommy Milner’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R hydroplaned on standing water into a barrier in the early morning weather, while Indy Car legend Alex Zanardi’s No. 24 BMW suffered from a series of steering column issues that lost valuable time before his co-driver Jesse Krohn encountered a tire failure that effectively removed the BMW from competition.

Oliver Jarvis set the IMSA lap record around Daytona International Speedway and qualified for the pole with a lap of 1:33.685s in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest DPi, but the car suffered a mechanical failure and had to retire.

The Heinricher Racing Caterpillar Inc. Acura NSX GT3 Evo featured the first all-female team to enter the Rolex 24 since 1993, but finished P13 after being damaged Sunday morning in an on-track incident.

This year’s race was started by 2019 Grand Marshal Scott Pruett. “It’s been a dream come true to be Grand Marshal, I’m really humbled and it’s been a fantastic experience. The racing was incredible tight from the start – it was nose to tail – with a lot of action in all the classes.It is unfortunate that we finished under the red flag, but the conditions were so tough and the right call was made. When you drive in these conditions it's intense and precision is key because as we’ve seen if you put a foot wrong, it will catch you out. The race, over the last 24 hours, demanded the highest level of commitment, focus and dedication and the drivers have been inspirational. It is so amazing to see these drivers on the podium because so many of them are my friends, whether it’s Alonso and the Wayne Taylor team or the BMW squad – they all deserved victory. When you consider all the time, effort and energy that goes into trying to win the Rolex 24, it is completely consuming and a watch is a symbol of this commitment. If you win a trophy, it sits in your trophy case. However, when you win a Daytona, with “Winner” engraved on the back, there’s nothing more special. There’s no current driver or past driver who wouldn’t say the most memorable thing you can take away from this race is the watch.”

Following the race, the commitment and excellence of the winning team was celebrated in Victory Lane. In tribute of this success, Rolex rewards the victorious drivers with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona, an infinite reminder of their achievement.

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