The #10 Acura ARX 05 of Wayne Taylor Racing took the first Rolex 24 Hours win for the marque in the DPi era and the third consecutive win for the team as Filipe Albuquerque, Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor.
The final result was in doubt right to the end of the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours with all three DPi manufacturers in the hunt despite an hour-long plus green flag run to the flag.
Filipe Albuquerque was left to fend off a spirited attack from Renger van der Zande as Harry Tincknell and Kamui Kobayashi closed in in the last 10 minutes.
8 minutes remaining and disaster for the #01 Ganassi Cadillac as van der Zande suffered a right rear puncture – instantly down to fourth.
Kobayashi meanwhile was past Tincknell and pushing hard to catch the leader, 6 seconds back and looking to take the win from his previous team.
The #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac was a late retirement after a troubled run with the #32 Whelen/ Action Express Cadillac dropped out of the lead battle with a gearbox stuck in 3rd that cost the team dearly too.
A remarkably troubled LMP2 field came down to a pair of cars for the win with the #18 Era Motorsport car taking a fine win for their ‘Crayon car’ courtesy of the need for the #8 Tower Motorsport car, which led into the final hour, needing to pit for fuel with just 7 minutes to go, a gamble on a late yellow failing to crystallise. That handed the led back to Paul Loup Chatin who completed a fine run with great support from Ryan Dalziel, Kyle Tilley and Dwight Merriman, 6th overall
The #82 DragonSpeed car had been in the mix until a technical issue in the final three hours dropped the defending class champions’ remaining car off the chase.
They’d still finish ahead though of the #51 RWR Eurasia Ligier which had a near trouble-free run to a creditable fourth for the effort.
In LMP2 there was a remarkably high level of attrition with three cars retiring from the race in the early going. Five of the classes’ ten cars ran into serious trouble at some point in the race.
The #29 Racing Team Nederland ORECA 07 and the #20 High Class Racing ORECA 07 both retired with gearbox issues. The #29 ORECA’s problems came as a result of Frits van Eerd’s crash at the bus stop. The #20 ORECA’s issues on the other hand were more spontaneous with their gearbox expiring as the car was on track, they DNFed, 48th in the final order, the #29 ORECA 47th.
Retiring with a damaged engine as a result of a crash was the #81 DragonSpeed ORECA 07. Rob Hodes locked the brakes into Turn 1 and understeered into the guardrail at corner exit. The contact seemed minor and Hodes got the car back to the pits, but the damage to the engine spelt the end of that team’s race. They finished 49th, last overall.
The #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 and the #47 Cetilar Racing Dallara P217 both ran into issues in the night. For the #47 Dallara, it was an overheating gearbox that saw them drop out of contention for the race win, they had been leading the race in the early morning. The #47 Dallara ended the race 35th. The #52 ORECA had been through the wars dealing with a misfiring engine, then a faulty starter motor, then an off for Nicolas Lapierre at the International Horseshoe, then yet more issues with the clutch and starter motor. The team finally called time deep into the final hour!
The final GTLM battle of the Rolex 24 looked like it would be Corvette’s to lose all day, in the late stages of the race there was a caution-assisted push to the front from the #24 BMW but the Vettes had the pace. Whilst the #62 Risi Ferrari had time in the lead in the final hour that flattered to deceive with the 488 GT3 on a different, and ultimately less favourable fuel strategy.
The Corvette pair were ultimately able to control the race with the #3 C8.R taking the class win in a formation finish with the sister car, Jordan Taylor, Nick Catsburg and Antonio Garcia 11th overall.
It was a tough race for the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR. Their race could not have started much worse as they were hit from behind by the #25 BMW when the field bunched upcoming to take the green flag. The contact sent the #79 Porsche spinning in front of the entire GT field with cars fanning out to avoid a major crash.
The rear bumper and diffusor eventually fell off the 911 RSR and needed to be replaced. Damage to the right front also needed to be repaired which dropped the car all the way down the order and 11 laps down. From there, the team had a remarkably clean race and worked their way to the back of the GTLM field, but with limited cautions and poor fortune with track position and with no one else in the class running into significant issues, they had to settle for 6th, still 9 laps down.
The picture for LMP3 was established early with most of the issues for the cars coming in the first half of the race and the order, and the gaps staying pretty static thereafter. The ability of most of the cars to complete the distance ranks as a pleasant surprise and the top four bunched in the overall order at the end 18th-21st. The #74 Riley Ligier (Spencer Pigot, Scott Andres, Oliver Askew and Gar Robinson) took the first-ever Rolex 24 Hours win in the class, 2 laps clear of a fine effort from Rolex 24 debutante Sean Creech Motorsports with their #33 Ligier and a further 5 laps clear of the #6 Muehlner Motorsports USA Duqueine with the #9 Riley Ligier rounding out the top four.
There were significant question marks coming into this race for LMP3. This was going to be the longest race an LMP3 car would embark upon and reliability was going to be a factor. Practically all of the LMP3 runners ran into trouble at some point, some more serious than others.
The only car in the class to retire from the race though was the #7 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine D08 which suffered an oil pump failure, this coming soon after a frankly terrifying error in the Bus Stop under caution that saw the car thread the needle between two stationary course workers vehicles as they worked to clear-up a previous incident.
Into the final hour and with the major runners on very similar fuel strategies it would be a sprint to the finish with the big guns at the wheel of the leading contenders, the #57 Winward and #75 SunEnergy1 AMGs in the hands of Engel and Marciello coming into the hour 10 seconds apart with Andrea Caldarelli just 5 seconds back in third in the #1 Paul Miller Huracan, fending off Jan Heylen on the #16 Wright Porsche, this pair about 10 seconds clear of the #23 Heart of Racing Aston of Ross Gunn.
Maro Engel had too much in reserve for the result to be in doubt on pace to bring home the car for the win with Indy Dontje, Russel Ward and an impressive Philip Ellis, 22nd overall.
It was a tough race for GRT Grasser Racing Team who had to retire both of their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evos. The first to encounter trouble was the #111 Lamborghini who suffered an electrical issue, but the team got those problems fixed. Shortly after that, the #19 Lamborghini had a fire in the engine bay that spelt the end of that team’s day. The #111 Lamborghini, which was trying to recover from their electrical issues, retired about six hours after their teammates with an engine issue.
The #64 Team TGM Porsche 911 GT3 R retired following an incident with the #97 TF Sport Aston Martin Vantage. The car underwent repairs and made a brief return to the track before being retired. The #97 Aston Martin continued with no significant time lost.
Another team who a race to forgot was Vasser Sullivan whose pair of Lexus RC-F GT3s both ran into trouble. The #12 Lexus had a transponder issue and then spent an hour behind the wall with other mechanical issues. Just before halfway, it stopped on track at the bus stop was towed back to the garage. The #12 Lexus was the last GTD to finish the race.
The #14 Lexus on the other hand was having a much better race in the first half. The car was leading and a frequent member of the top five in the class. A water system issue near the halfway mark sent that car to the garage, dropping it down the order. It then spent another twenty minutes in the garage with yet more unidentified issues, capping off a miserable race for the team.
In the last four hours of the race, the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R suffered a drivetrain failure. It pulled off the track on the backstretch after moving slowly through NASCAR turns 1 and 2. The team got the car back on track after just over an hour of repairs.
The #42 NTE Audi was a very late retirement with a broken gearbox after a quiet race for the GTD debutants