Cadillac Prototype wins the Rolex 24 at Daytona
The Rolex 24 at Daytona is North America’s premier endurance race. Held annually in Daytona Beach, Florida, the 3.5 mile Daytona International Speedway has been hosting the event since the 1960s. Unlike the 24 hours at LeMans, the Rolex 24 at Daytona is run in a closed oval course which doesn’t use any public roads.
This year saw the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi take the checkered flag and the title as winners of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona. In the GT Le Mans (GTLM) it was the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing that took the top spot. Meanwhile, in the GT Daytona series, it was the No. 11 Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 that crossed the line first.
The 808-lap race was both intense and demanding on the drivers and their machinery. Cars were pushed to its limits while racing door to door with an international talent-laden field. This series firmly cements the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the ultimate test of endurance.
At the start, it was the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing and the No. 7 Acura Team Penske Prototype that was battling for the lead. Then, as night fell, rain made an apperance nesscecitating an unplanned change for wet weather tires by majority of the racers. The track remained damp until midway into the 24 hour race.
Early Sunday morning saw the No. 6 Acura Team Penske suffereing a mechanical failure with the No. 7 coming into contact with the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi, which forced both Acuras to dive into the pits for repairs. The damage was so severe that both dropped 15 laps behind the leaders, ending their hope for a victory in Daytona. The No. 5 Mustang held on to the lead and eventual win. 1:10.544 adrift was the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi driven by Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran Mike Conway and Stuart Middleton. Rounding up the podium was the No. 54 ORECA LMP2 of Colin Braun, Loic Duval, Jonathan Bennett and Romain Dumas.
In the GTLM category, it was the 200th win and a 1-2 finish for Chip Ganassi Racing, giving team owner and Rolex 24 Hour at Daytona Grand Marshall Chip Ganassi much reason to celebrate. Drivers Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon took the No. 67 Ford GT across the finish line and take the win ahead of the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, while in 3rd was the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette Racing C7R.
Winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona will cement one’s stature in the field of endurance racing and honored with the ultimate racing driver’s watch: a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. In an interview, a triumphant Filipe Albuquerque said: “It was overwhelming to receive the trophy and a Rolex Daytona after such a challenging drive – that final lap felt like one of the longest of my life! The race was unbelievable, with constant traffic demanding the utmost concentration. It truly was one of the most competitive and relentless 24 hours both inside and outside the car, which makes this win all the more special.”
ROLEX AND DAYTONA
Rolex’s connection to Daytona harks back to an even earlier time when Daytona Beach was considered the capital of land speed records in the early 20th century. The long, flat and very firm Daytona Beach played host to 14 land speed records in the early part of the 20th century – five of which were set by Sir Malcolm Campbell, including the fastest official time recorded there of 442kph in 1935 at the wheel of his mighty Bluebird with a Rolex on his wrist. In 1992, Rolex formalized this long-standing association with Daytona and the Speedway becoming the Official Timepiece and Title Sponsor of the 24-hour Daytona classic, further strengthening the link between the race and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. After 26 years, the brand is now so closely tied to the event that motor sport aficionados simply refer to it as “The Rolex”.