Ford GT Competing in the GTLM Class
This past weekend was the 54th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Plenty can happen in a 24 hour endurance race and quite a bit did happened. Many machines in the GT classes looked like they had the race well in hand when many fans headed to bed. However, by the morning most of these cars were either out of the race or well back in the pack.
The GTLM and GTD classes featured new race cars from Audi, BMW, Porsche, Ferrari and Ford. Some showed promise, but many suffered from accidents or mechanical failure.
Warning: the following contains spoilers and if you recorded the race you may want to read this at a later date.
In the GTLM class it all came down to a battle between Corvette and Porsche. Setting up the final battle between two Corvettes the Number 4 Corvette C7R passed the Number 912 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR at the West Horseshoe. In getting around the 911, the Chevrolet made minor contact from the left front to rear with the Number 912 car with just over 30 minutes to go in the race.
Race Control ruled that no further action was needed and the Corvette was allowed to continue with no penalty. This helped setup an incredible finish with the number 4 Corvette going toe to toe with the number 3 Corvette. The number 4 car piloted by Oliver Gavin managed to hold the lead until the very end. When the number 3 car driven by Antonio Garcia finally got an opportunity to take the lead. The two cars finish just 0.034 of second apart for a 1-2 Corvette victory.
Rounding out the podium was the Number 912 Porsche 911 GT3 RSR. The car started out the race in P2, but with the close competition and the harshness of a 24 competition winning is very difficult. The 911 is very competitive and the rest of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship should be very entertaining.
The Ford GT learned just how hard a 24 hour endurance race can be first hand. The new racing version of the company’s new supercar suffered from gearbox failure early on in the competition. The issue put both Fords too far behind to be competitive. However, they both did manage to finish the Rolex 24.
Ryan Briscoe, driver of the Number 67 Ford GT: “It was a pretty tough race for us, but it was the first true test for the Ford GT. We showed awesome speed and competitiveness, so I think there are a lot of positives to take from the race. Obviously, we have a list of items to go through post-race, you know, work on our reliability, but for me, driving the car was so much fun. It’s an awesome race car. It was really comfortable to drive and really racy, so from that standpoint, it was really promising and I’m sure the team and Ford and everyone involved will be able to work out the kinks that we got in our first-ever race with the Ford GT.”
In the GTD class there was plenty of drama, but smiles were on the faces of the Magnus Racing team in the end. Their number 44 Audi R8 LMS had the U.S. racing debut that they were hoping for. With the R8 the drama was all about fuel. The car had just enough gasoline to cross the finish line before sputtering to a stop without fuel.
The Black Swan Number 540 Porsche 911 GT3 R made its world racing debut and managed to finish in second place. Amazingly the 911 started the racing 19th in class (out of 22 cars) and battled all the way to P2.
Rounding out the podium was the number 93 Dodge Viper R of Riley Motorsports. An impressive finish for a car that was a relatively late entry into the Daytona race.
There were five Lamborghini Huracan GT3s in the field at Daytona. For much of the race it looked as though a V10 Lamborghini would take the win, but some on track incidents prevented that from becoming a reality.
The Rolex 24 was quite competitive and entertaining this year. A very nice way to kick off racing season.