The 59th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway has been our first taste of motorsport for 2021, and what a damn good race it was. After a race-long battle amongst the top five cars in the premiere DPi class, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura piloted by Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi, and Helio Castroneves.
It was the first time in Rolex history that five top-class racecars finished on the final lap, which was emphasized by the fact that just about every DPi car was in contention until the last minutes of the event. It was also the first time that Acura won a Rolex 24. Mercedes took home its first ever class win in the GTD class.
With just under eight minutes to go, Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac—the car shared between Scott Dixon and Kevin Magnussen—blew a tire and was forced to pit, losing crucial positions and also the race win. Other teams looked on, almost in horror, likely wondering if their car was going to suffer the same fate.
“I could almost see his eyes in my mirrors,” Albuquerque said of van der Zande. “He was so hungry for this, especially the whole story leaving Wayne Taylor for another team. I was lucky they had a puncture, but he was really pushing hard. I think it was a hell of a show. It was the hardest race of my life.”
Meanwhile, Helio Castroneves pointed at Albuquerque yelling, “Everything I know! I taught him everything I know!”
Ricky Taylor, son of team owner Wayne Taylor, “You take everything you can get. You just enjoy every success that you have. We’re lucky to be doing what we’re doing, and to do it with your family is amazing.”
Rossi added, “Man, it’ll look good! This is unbelievable. It’s such a pleasure to be a part of the Wayne Taylor Konica Minolta team. Just a pleasure to be able to do it. Especially special for the three of us—we had a hard time in endurance racing with Acura Team Penske.”
This year’s event was a great one. The chaos that many—including myself—predicted never quite came to fruition. Instead, there were a few incidents sprinkled throughout the race, which actually lent themselves to making for fascinating restarts among all five classes—but especially in DPi and the GT classes. It was a legitimately fascinating event that wasn’t a hot mess but was instead just enjoyable to watch all the way through.
And the bests part is that the battle went all the way to the checkered flag, which is impressive in any motorsport event but especially so in a 24-hour race, where there are plenty of opportunities for things to go wrong.
The No. 10 isn’t the only team to nab a Rolex this year, though. Every class winner earns one. Let’s run you through the top three for each of the classes.
- First Place: No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing; Filipe Albuquerque, Ricky Taylor, Alexander Rossi, and Helio Castroneves
- Second Place: No. 48 Action Express (Ally Cadillac) Racing; Kamui Kobayashi, Jimmie Johnson, Simon Pagenaud, Mike Rockenfeller.
- Third Place: No. 55 Mazda Motorsports; Jonathan Bomarito, Harry Tincknell, Oliver Jarvis
- First Place: No. 18 Era Motorsport; Kyle Tilley, Dwight Merriam, Paul-Loup Chatin, Ryan Dalziel
- Second Place: No. 8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks; John Farano, Gabriel Aubrey, Matthieu Vaiviere, Timothe Buret
- Third Place: No. 82 DragonSpeed; Devlin DeFrancesco, Eric Lux, Christopher Mies, Fabian Schiller
- First Place: No. 74 Riley Motorsport; Oliver Askew, Spencer Pigot, Scott Andrews, Gar Robinson
- Second Place: No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports; Joao Barbosa, Lance Willsey, Yann Clairy, Wayne Boyd
- Third Place: No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports; Moritz Kranz, Laurents Horr, Kenton Koch, Stevan McAleer
- First Place: No. 4 Corvette Racing; Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg
- Second Place: No. 4 Corvette Racing; Nick Tandy, Tommy Milner, Alexander Sims
- Third Place: No. 24 BMW Team RLL; Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler, Philipp Eng, Timo Glock
- First Place: No. 57 HTP Winward Motorsport; Russell Ward, Indy Dontje, Philip Ellis, Maro Engel
- Second Place: No. 75; SunEnergy1 Racing; Mikael Grenier, Raffaele Marciello, Luca Stolz, Kenny Habul
- Third Place: No. 1; Paul Miller Motorsports; Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis, Madison Snow, Andrea Caldarelli