Wayne Taylor Racing and full-season co-pilots Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande kicked off IMSA’s 50th anniversary season with a victory in the 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona that was ultimately secured by two-time Formula 1 world champion Fernando Alonso.
- Results: 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Following a series of morning hours that featured more restraint than speed due to torrential downpour, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R and the similar No. 31 Cadillac DPi from Action Express Racing, driven by former F1 drivers Alonso and Felipe Nasr, surfaced as the prime contenders.
Cars competing in all four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes spun, made contact or ran into other trouble in the ultra-challenging conditions. Elsewhere on the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway road course, Alonso and Nasr were trading the overall lead as if the anticipated rain never arrived.
A red-flag period that began at 7:22 a.m. EST Sunday and lasted more than an hour and a half was preceded and followed by yellow-flag running behind the safety car. Though the green flag returned for only one minute after that stoppage due to a crash, a green-flag period later on saw Nasr run wide through Turn 1 and allow Alonso to take control.
The red flag appeared for the second time soon thereafter and was followed by the checkered flag with 23 hours and 50 minutes complete, sealing Wayne Taylor’s second Rolex 24 triumph in three years.
The DPi podium, rounded out by the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 behind Alonso and Nasr, were the only cars to remain on the lead lap and completed 593 revolutions of the circuit during 21 hours, 59 minutes and 19 seconds on track.
At four and seven laps down, former LMP2 rivals CORE autosport and JDC-Miller Motorsports completed the top five in DPi with their new Nissan Onroak DPi and Cadillac machinery.
Ten laps further back, the No. 6 Acura DPi of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud came home sixth after contending for the victory but falling behind due to an engine issue with Pagenaud in the cockpit.
The pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda RT24-P spent the first segment of the race running up front but caught fire while running second and moments after the sister No. 55 fell out of contention with an electrical failure. The No. 77 is scored last in DPi having completed six hours and 42 minutes.
DragonSpeed Wins LMP2
After showing up to run half of the entries in the WeatherTech Championship’s new secondary prototype division, DragonSpeed will leave Daytona as winners.
The team’s No. 18 ORECA 07 crashed at the hands of Sebastian Saavedra at the height of the rainy conditions, nearly collecting overall leader Alonso and helping IMSA come to the decision to introduce the initial red flag.
At the time of the incident, Saavedra held a four-lap advantage over the No. 38 ORECA from Performance Tech Motorsports. The Colombian and co-driver to Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado and Ryan Cullen ended the race with the same advantage, delivering the LMP2 win to Elton Julian’s DragonSpeed group.
Along with the two GT divisions, the prototype classes will race next March 16, 2019 at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring for the second round of the Michelin Endurance Cup and WeatherTech Championship season.