RLL Survives Rain to Take Daytona Victory

The driving team of Augusto Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta survived a rained-out Rolex 24 at Daytona and ensured their car was positioned at the front of the GT Le Mans class when the race was called 10 minutes early after an extended red-flag period.

The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, which qualified eighth on the GTLM grid at the hands of De Phillippi, ran a quiet race and remained inside the top five at the conclusion of 17 of the race’s 24 hours.

While not leading when the race’s final yellow flag came out just before the close of Hour 22, Farfus had driven the year-old car into the class’ top three and passed James Calado in Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 GTE to slot into the second position.

Leader Richard Westbrook had been in the No. 67 Ford GT for almost two hours without visiting the pits, necessitating a stop for fuel prior to the red flag that eventually ended the race. Westbrook’s misfortune benefited BMW Team RLL when its No. 25 car was promoted to the class lead while the race was still under yellow-flag conditions.

The victory marked the first at Daytona for BMW’s current GTE challenger, which struggled throughout Roar Before the Rolex 24 testing earlier this month.

Colton Herta laps Daytona during 2019 Rolex 24 rain
Colton Herta’s first WeatherTech Championship start culminated in victory. | Photo: Jake Galstad / IMSA

The Risi Ferrari shared by Davide Rigon, Miguel Molina, Alessandro Pier Guidi and Calado ended the shortened race in second, scored 1.149 seconds behind the winning car. The No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, which led at the conclusion of Hours 10, 13 and 14, finished in third.

Westbrook’s late-race pit stop relegated the Ford he shared with Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to a fourth-place finish, ahead of the No. 911 Porsche in fifth.

After scoring a 1-2 finish in last year’s 24-hour race, the twin Corvette C7.Rs ended in the sixth and eighth positions, respectively, split by the No. 66 Ford.

The No. 24 BMW brought up the rear of the nine-car class. Due to the amputation of both legs after a crash in 2001, Alex Zanardi utilized a special steering wheel with a hand-controlled throttle. The car was dropped off its jacks as Zanardi was attaching the wheel during his first driver change, damaging it and causing an extended stop.

Grasser Wins Second Consecutive Rolex 24

Spins for two leading GT Daytona cars put Grasser Racing Team’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the lead at the right time, allowing the No. 11 car to secure its second straight victory at Daytona.

The team, fielding drivers Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti, Christian Engelhart and Rik Breukers, overcame an early stop-and-hold penalty, two drive-throughs and a spin to follow its 2018 Rolex 24 triumph with another.

Issues for both the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 and No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 gave Engelhart the GTD lead ahead of the race-ending red flag.

Land’s Audi ended the race second in class ahead of new IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant AIM Vasser Sullivan’s No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 in third.

WRT Speedstar Audi Sport and the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 completed the top five while the No. 33 car finished in seventh behind the No. 14 Lexus.

Both GT classes will be back in action as the unofficial 36 Hours of Florida continues March 16, 2019 with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben's executive editor title is purposefully broad to encompass the bottomless list of roles he fills for The Apex, which includes webmaster, graphic designer, quality consultant and writer. Ben's technical background and progressive media distribution approach set The Apex apart technologically and philosophically.

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