By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
DAYTONA — Qualifying on medium tires was BMW’s strategy to hide their true pace ahead of the 2020 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
After qualifying, it was easy to see how one could predict Porsche to win the GTLM class. The German manufacturer qualified first and second by a decent margin over the Corvette Racing pair in third and fourth and the BMW M8 GTE pair in fifth and sixth.
However, as the race went on through the night, the No. 24 M8 of John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Chaz Mostert and Augusto Farfus found its way into a fight with the leading pair of Porsche 911 RSR-19s that lasted for the rest of the race.
As the final few hours wound down, the No. 911 Porsche became the primary adversary for the No. 24 BMW, until the BMW managed to pull away in the final two hours to claim its second GTLM class victory in a row at the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“With the medium tires, we would be better on the long run, and thankfully [Krohn] proved I wasn’t a liar,” said Edwards. “He did an amazing final two hours, my triple [stint] was stressful. We were back and forth with the Porsche in multiple stints, we’d come out behind, get ahead and then fall back and the same for Jesse, he did a triple as well and same situation. It was a very hard fight, as it always is in GTLM. I think running at the end of the Daytona 24 Hours, it’s different than any other race, you really feel it when you have those battles, so I’d like to say it was a fun battle, but it was so stressful, it took a lot out of me, for sure.”
While the battle near the end of the race was entertaining outside of the car, inside was another story. With so few yellows, every position counted more than usual since there were fewer opportunities for wave arounds to get laps back under yellow. Adding in that the sister No. 25 BMW had an oil line puncture during the night costing it many laps in the garage, the pressure was on in the final hours for Krohn to deliver the car home first.
“It’s stressful, very little sleep through the night, it’s all on your shoulders at the end,” said Krohn of his final stint in the car. “I didn’t want to be the guy who finishes second and then denies these guys the watches. I just put my head down. First of all, when I saw the Porsche ahead of me, I knew that the only way for us to pass them was to actually catch them and make the move, so it wasn’t given to us.”
Mostert’s victory at Daytona is perhaps his biggest since winning the 2014 Bathurst 1000 with Paul Morris. While he didn’t start last at Daytona as he did in Bathurst, the feeling is the same despite
“The last feeling I’ve had like this victory is probably in 2014, winning the Bathurst 1000. I feel like I haven’t achieved a lot over the last couple years, so this is up there. This race is so different than what the Bathurst 1000 is back home, but it’s just as intense as that. We couldn’t afford a mistake all day, and across the four drivers we didn’t do that. It took 12 months for the 1000 win to sink in, and it’ll probably take 12 months for this to sink in.”
The win puts the No. 24 BMW at the top of the full season championship, and leading the class at the six and 12 hour marks helped secure them first place in the Michelin Endurance Cup.