By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
The 57th Rolex 24 at Daytona started off the 2019 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and after everybody has had time to dry themselves off, let’s make some random observations.
It was good to see the Mazda DPis up front near the start of the race. Team Joest has made a lot of progress with making those cars fast but reliability is still the biggest concern. Since the engine revs won’t be so high at Sebring, the team might have a shot at winning. After all, last year was looking pretty good for them until the last pit stop and the team also had a possible win at Road America except for pit strategy and a double podium at Road Atlanta.
The battle between Acura and Mazda in DPi was fun to watch at the start of the race. Had both Mazdas lasted, it would’ve been interesting to see how they could’ve fared in the wet weather conditions.
LMP2 was moderately entertaining because chaos was almost always expected from a pro-am prototype class if LMPC was anything to go by a few years ago. In fact, the last yellow flag of the race came from the class-winning car.
The GTLM balance of performance was pretty close to perfect. Multiple manufacturers were very close with each other and even if one held the lead for a while, there was almost always another car close behind. Having different manufacturers close over the course of 24 hours is what BoP was intended for, despite how much we all pitch a fit about it.
Risi Competizione should be proud of the job they did. Considering that they have no announced plans for the rest of 2019, a good result at Daytona could be a nice springboard for the rest of the year if the team is able to keep racing.
BMW’s win might have had some luck behind it but the M8 was on pace throughout the race. The car had a lot of development over the previous year and won a pair of races late last year so the car has reason to be considered a contender.
AIM Vasser Sullivan initially finished third in the GT Daytona class but a drive time penalty on the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi brings AVS to second in class for the best result for the Lexus RC F GT3 in a 24 hour endurance race. The team came together about three months ago and to score a runner-up finish on debut was a great result.
All eight manufacturers were represented in the top nine finishers in GTD. In a class as diverse as GTD, this is a triumph of the BoP for that class. Not every car finished on the lead lap but after a race as long as Daytona, it’s not going to happen every time.
While race control should be commended for trying to get the track dry, the lack of communication near the end of the race was less than ideal. The green flag racing after the first red flag was some of the most competitive wet weather racing Daytona’s seen in a long time so a kudos should be given to the drivers that managed to keep everything under control.