By Joey Barnes, Editor-in-Chief
Action Express Racing took the overall victory for the 56th Running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, setting a new distance record for the event in the process.
The trio of Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa crossed the finish line with a total of 808 laps with their No. 5 Cadillac Dpi-V.R., which was enough to beat the current configuration’s previous record of 762 laps set in 1992.
When the race began to settle in, it looked to be a contest between both Action Express Racing and Team Penske.
However, an alternator issue to the Team Penske’s No. 6 Acura ARX-05s – driven by Dane Cameron, Simon Pagenaud and Juan Pablo Montoya – plagued their chances at victory, while the sister car No. 7 was pushed to the garage after Helio Castroneves made contact with the second Action Express Racing car, the No. 31.
Despite both Action Express Racing cars suffering from cooling issues and needing to go behind the wall for repairs, the advantage over their rivals was enough to maintain the lead.
The No. 31 – occupied by Felipe Nasr, Mike Conway, Eric Curran and Stuart Middleton – came out on track in a tense battle with the No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, Romain Dumas and Loic Duval. Althought the gap closed to around 40 seconds, Middleton managed to fend off Braun despite slowing significantly to save fuel, finishing second and giving Action Express Racing a 1-2 in the historic event.
Although United Autosports came in with a lot of hype surrounding two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso – who occupied the No. 23 Ligier JS P217s with McLaren reserve driver Lando Norris and Phil Hanson – it was the No. 32 of Bruno Senna, Paul di Resta, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer that led the outfit to fourth overall.
The No. 78 Jackie Chan DCR Oreca – driven by Alex Brundle, Ho-Pin Tung, Ferdinand Hasburg and Antonio Felix da Costa – came away with fifth.
For Alonso, a brake issue during the night destroyed any chances of a potential podium. The team was forced to change out the master cylinder, but throttle issues and more brake problems continued to hinder the squad. The No. 23 squad ended the race 38th overall, 91 behind.
The full list of results can be seen here.