By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
The 2018 editions of the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hours were polar opposites of each other.
The Rolex 24 had only four cautions and because of that, the winner of the second class of cars broke the long standing distance record set by the overall winners in 1982. The Bathurst 12 Hours had so many cautions earlier in the race that broadcasters debated on whether the race would set a record for the shortest distance covered.
The Rolex 24 had two class winners decided (for the most part) with many hours left to go in the race. The overall lead didn’t change in the last couple hundred laps and in GT Le Mans the Ford GT duo led all but a handful of laps. At Bathurst, there was a large amount of uncertainty about the overall winner thanks to fuel strategy.
There were a few tense moments at the Rolex 24 but they soon faded back into obscurity. At Bathurst, the race had several “YouTube-worthy” moments including a fire onboard a Mustang, several crashes that scattered parts and debris around like beads on Mardi Gras day and ended with a multi-car crash whose audio track would make even the emotionless squirm at the sound of carbon fiber and metal colliding with concrete.
But for all of the differences between Daytona and Bathurst, both will be remembered as classics. Daytona because the driving standards were so high with all cars completing a combined 127,045.72 miles and a manufacturer (Lamborghini) earned its first victory in a 24 hour endurance race. For a comparison, Bathurst’s 49 cars (one didn’t make it to the green flag after having started the formation lap) covered 43,903.64 miles.
Bathurst will be remembered for the close action between the classes and because of how small the margin for error is. At Daytona, there is a greater margin for error since the infield has a decent amount of runoff but at Bathurst there’s almost no margin for error since the walls are so close to the road, especially in the twisty, back section of the course.
While the Daytona results reflected that of a classical endurance race with not as many cars near each other at the end, Bathurst set a record with seven cars on the lead lap at the end of the race despite the race being counted back to the last completed lap.
Such classic endurance races are a large part of the perfect beginning to the global motorsports calendar and the large disparity between how the two events found the finish will be a part of that lore.