The Cadillac DPi-V.R teams have won the last three 24 Hours of Daytona races in a row as Fernando Alonso took the black and blue Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing car across the finish line for the final time some two hours before the race time clock ran out. With safety top of mind, the stewards finally threw the red flag for a second time due to the torrential downfall and let that stoppage continue on to the end of the race. Technically the race officially ended 10 minutes early, as the call was made at 23 hours and 50 minutes.
The #10 Cadillac of Alonso, Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande, and Kamui Kobayashi may have been in the lucky position of number one as the red flag fell, but it was a true credit to all four of them that the car had managed to stay in the hunt for the 20-ish hours of actual racing that occurred. The mega battles that, in particular Alonso had against Acura’s Helio Castroneves, and Kobayashi had with seemingly everyone.
The competition in the DPi category was stiff, but Cadillac had the measure of the field again. The Mazdas, though fast, were too fragile to make it to the finish. The lone Nissan simply couldn’t keep it on the island. The two Acuras were in the fight all race long, but couldn’t quite match the Caddys on fuel economy.
This is Jordan Taylor’s second victory in his father’s team, having previously won in 2017. Van der Zande, Kobayashi, and Alonso netted their collective first Daytona 24 victory. Alonso has now won the Monaco Grand Prix, the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the 24 Hours of Daytona. He’s heading to Indianapolis this May for another run at the Indy 500.
The #18 Oreca of Dragonspeed drivers Pastor Maldonado, Roberto Gonzalez, Ryan Cullen, and Sebastian Saavedra teamed for victory in the four-car LMP2 class. It was pretty obvious that Dragonspeed would take the win, as they stretched out a double-digit lap lead over the other two LMP2 teams by mid-race.
From there, it was just a matter of which Dragonspeed car would make it to the end. The #81 was leading, but crashed and lost many laps. The #18 also crashed a number of times, but never bad enough to sideline the car long. The team won the race with a 4 lap lead.
The #25 BMW, much like every other team, worked hard to be in the right place at the right time. They just happened to be leading when the red flag came out. With drivers Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Colton Herta, and Augusto Farfus teaming for the win, they’re likely quite happy that the race never went back to green flag conditions. They got a Rolex watch out of the deal.
It is interesting to note that Augusto Farfus wasn’t selected for this drive until Tom Blomqvist had Visa issues. The last minute addition to the team helped them haul the trophy home. What a neat story.
While the BMWs never really looked fast, they stayed out of most of the trouble of the race. There were Porsches contacting Ford GTs and Corvettes contacting the wall. Meanwhile, the Big M8 simply kept trucking along and keeping out of trouble. That’s really what you need to do in order to win at Daytona.
I watched most of the race, and I cannot tell you exactly how the #11 Lamborghini won this race. This car was simply not in the mix much, and never really got time on television for discussion. Like the BMW above, it was simply a trouble-free run. There was a small collision with another Lamborghini, but apparently the team recovered well enough to get back to the front.
There were six GTD cars on the lead lap for the race finish, including two Audis, two Lexus, and the #86 Acura, so it was legitimately anyone’s game. Staying on the lead lap for 22 hours isn’t easy, and the Grasser team of Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart, and Rik Breukers won by doing just that.
Interestingly, the race was red-flagged earlier, and the race stewards decided to attempt getting the race back under green. Many more GTD competitors crashed out during that segment of the race. The Montaplast Audi, in particular, spun out of the lead of the race into the muddy grass between the tri-oval and pit lane. As a result of that spin, that Audi finished second. Heartbreaking stuff.
Congratulations to the teams who won. It’s a bit of a downer to end such a cracking race like this, but such is the life of an endurance racer.