It was deja vu in Victory Lane at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona for Meyer Shank Racing, and for Helio Castroneves especially. The team won America’s most prestigious sports car race for the second year in a row, while their driver earned his third Rolex Daytona trophy.
Tom Blomqvist wheeled the car across the line, joined by teammates Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, and Colin Braun.
“That was crazy,” Blomqvist said after stepping out of the car. “I knew we had a fantastic car. I’ve been working hard. Unbelievable. Massive, well done, everyone being part of this project and worked together on this project. What a car we’ve built.”
It was the first race as well for IMSA’s new GTP class. Despite entries from a returning Cadillac and a new BMW and Porsche, it was an all-Acura ARX-06 fight at the end, as Konika Minolta Racing’s car finished 4.190 seconds behind in second.
Of the battle at the end, Blomqvist admitted, “I was just a bit nervous. The 10 was definitely second fastest car, but we held them off.”
Only Acura and Cadillac ended up on the lead lap, though, with the Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-LMDh taking the final spot on the podium. Despite difficulties for the new entrants, with all BMWs and Porsches facing some reliability issues, the Acuras were faultless despite not participating in preseason testing.
Despite finishing third, driver Renger van der Zande said of the Chip Ganassi-run effort: “Yeah, finishing second or third is not what we came for, but hey it’s the first time and we got points for podium to start the season off with Ganassi.”
“At the end of the day,” he concluded, “we didn’t have the pace to win, and we didn’t have the speed on the straights to win. It’s time to collect and see where we can improve as a team. I think it’s a tribute to GM and to Dallara and Ganassi to build a car that lasts for 24 hours. I think that is an amazing thing.”
The real excitement at the end, though, came from the LMP2 class. The single-make class was decided by a pass not on the last lap but on the last straightaway, when Proton Competition stepped out of the draft at the last moment to beat Crowdstrike Racing by just 0.016-seconds.
James Allen got a run out of the newly-renamed Le Mans Chicane after a physical battle with Ben Harley throughout the previous lap.
LMP3 was a lot less competitive, though no less surprising. The Riley Ligier was stopped in its quest for a third-straight class win by an engine failure three hours in, and the win went to the AWA team, piloting the French Duquiene D08.
The team found the same domination as the old Ligier entry, winning this year’s event by a margin of 17 laps, making LMP3 the only class not to have any competitors on the lead lap.
The WeatherTech Racing Mercedes won the GTD Pro class by 3.9 seconds, beating out a Corvette that found the pace it was lacking last year. The Heart of Racing Aston Martin won the GTD class, which requires amateur-level drivers as well as professionals.
IMSA racing returns for the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18th.
- Wins are just the start for Max Verstappen’s record-breaking season - November 27, 2023
- Max Verstappen finishes record season with a win at Abu Dhabi with a battle behind - November 26, 2023
- Max Verstappen hopes to close out season with dominance from pole position at Abu Dhabi - November 25, 2023