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IMSA: Rolex 24 at Daytona, Wrap Up, ESM Wins & A Star Is Born

Prototype: A star is born

Luis Felipe Derani drove the wheels off the ESM Ligier HPD to lead and anchor the somewhat surprising win here at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. The other drivers held their own, but it was Derani that pushed the car over the top.

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The pace of the LMP2 cars drove a large number of the DP class cars into the ground and paved the way for ESM to take a 26-second win over the Corvettes from WTR and VisitFlorida. Those three were the only cars to finish on the lead lap.

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Scott Sharp: “2015 was a rough season and to see everything come together like this was special. It is so good to see this come together so well with our merged team with Onroak.”

Johannes van Overbeek: “I was reflecting on this win here. Ed and I were responsible for two of the three P2 wins and it makes me happy. Running the P2 made me feel a bit like a red-haired step child, so to win here with a P2 makes me feel quite proud of all of our efforts.”

Interesting fact: Scott Sharp last won Daytona 20 years ago. His teammate? None other than Wayne Taylor. (With thanks to Marshall Pruett)

After replacing the unwell Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli got into a car that actually made Jordan sick again. Jordan said that the vibrations and fumes inside the car were horrible and that he couldn’t handle it anymore.

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Max jumped in and his drive, considering the circumstances was amazing. After crossing the line, Max stopped the car and immediately it was clear to see that things weren’t right. Max was extracted from the car, placed on a gurney and transported to a hospital. We at DSC all hope he recovers quick.

For VisitFlorida Racing, a 3rd place finish was as much as the team could have expected. It is its best finish as a team here and sets them up for a strong start for the championship chase.

GTLM: A close fight all the way to the flag

You have to give Doug Fehan a tip of the hat for his guts and then you’ve got to be amazed at the skills of both Olly Gavin and Antonio Garcia in the “let’s race” finish that Corvette Racing put on to finish off the Daytona 24 Hours.

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There were times that it was difficult to believe that this was happening, this is almost unheard of in this type or racing. The racing was clean and fair.

“Garcia is a friend and also a tough competitor, but he is also a fair competitor,” said Gavin. “I’ve driven for Fehan for so long and he is a competitor. He wants to race and that made this so much fun and made this win so very special.”

As far as a class, this year’s GTLM field more than lived up to expectations. The freight train that circulated in the dark was special and just shows that at least here at Daytona the regulations are pretty much spot on.

Third place went to Earl Bamber’s #912 Porsche, which had a lead up until the final hour when the Kiwi was swamped by the pair of Corvettes and was forced to relinquish his position at the head of the class after a nudge at the West hairpin by Gavin.

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Porsche looked good for a formation finish throughout, but it wasn’t meant to be by the end of the race.

Overall 2016 promises to be yet another banner year in GTLM, especially with the addition of what is assumed will be an improved Ford effort at Sebring.

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Ford in general has plenty of niggles, but to get both cars to the finish is a mighty achievement. There’s still plenty of time to iron out the glitches before the big one in June.

LMPC: An old school race of attrition

This was a struggle for the entire class. No one had what would be considered a clean run, nowhere close to it. But JDC-Miller persevered through to take the win, one that they hope sets them up for a championship run.

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Kenton Koch, who finished up the race said: “I’ve never driven what felt to be so slow. I knew we had a good lead and I just didn’t want to get mixed up into and battles. I just wanted to bring it home.”

GTD: Magnus spoils Konrad’s party

This was a great start for the GT3 GTD era. 22 cars strong and a quality field that put the results in doubt right up to the last lap. And that is pretty much what happened.

The pace was incredible as was the pressure and in the end it came down to fuel strategy. Magnus won that and the race while Konrad Motorsports came up short, falling to 6th in class at the end after running short on fuel with just minutes left while holding a lead of less than 10 seconds.

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“This was one of the hardest stints in my life,” exclaimed Rene Rast after the race. “Over the radio I was getting go faster, conserve fuel voices all the time. I was even told to let the Lamborghini to go past. I said that wasn’t how you win races.”

Andy Lally also found the race a challenge at the end. “I was stressing out. My calculator was out crunching numbers for all of the possibilities. All of us were so stressed. To run out of fuel on the cool down lap showed our numbers were right.”

“And justified our stressing out,” added John Potter.

It may have been a rough 2015 season and a tumultuous off season for the team, it just makes this win that much more special for the Magnus Racing.

Gary Horrocks