Adam Sinclair

Adam Sinclair

Adam has been a race fan since the first time he went through the tunnel under the Daytona International Speedway almost 30 years ago. He has had the privilege of traveling to races all across the state of Florida (as well as one race in Ohio), watching nearly everything with a motor compete for fame and glory, as well as participating in various racing schools to get the feel of what racecar drivers go through every week.  

Adam spent several years covering motorsports for Examiner.com., where he had the opportunity to see the racing world from behind the scenes as well as the grandstands. He invites everyone to follow him on Twitter, Facebook, and Google Plus, and looks forward to sharing his enthusiasm for all things racing with the readers of SpeedwayDigest.com.

Be sure to tune in for his sports talk program, Thursday Night Thunder, where he discusses the latest in motorsports news with drivers, crew members, and fans. The show takes place (almost) every Thursday at 8:00 pm EST on the Speedway Digest Radio Network. 

Contact Adam: Email  

  

 

Due to an unfortunate event, The Heart of Racing team has withdrawn from the 58th running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Following an incident close to pit entry with the #47 PPM Lamborghini Huracan at close to five hours in, the car sustained damage that although is repairable, is not repairable on site.
 
The Heart of Racing team returned to Daytona International Speedway this weekend to compete as a newly re-established team, with the new-to-the-team Aston Martin Vantage GT3. Practice was focused on set up and learning as much about the car as possible. Qualifying went as expected with the strategy focused on the endurance aspect.
 
In addition, the team came here to raise awareness and funds for the 501(c)(3) Team Seattle Guild, which funds equipment for the pediatric cardiology unit of Seattle Children’s Hospital as well as research and training of doctors and surgeons worldwide. Thanks to the team and the Guild’s efforts this weekend, a figure of over $100,000 has been raised so far.
 
The team will now return to their Florida base to regroup and repair, with the aim to come back fighting at the next event in Sebring in March. Back in 2016, the team enjoyed a class victory at this event and look forward to the opportunity to prove themselves once again.
 
 
Quoteboard:
 
Alex Riberas
"Definitely not the way we wanted to end our weekend in Daytona. The race was hard from the beginning, but the team did a great job at finding ways to improve the car during the race. Unfortunately, we didn’t get the most out of what I think is a very good car, but I feel very lucky to be part of a great family and I am sure we will return stronger at Sebring.”
 
Ian James
"Unfortunate end to a promising debut for the team, but racing is full of ups and downs and I am proud of the way the whole team and drivers executed this weekend. I look forward to Sebring and the rest of the year with this extended family, The Heart of Racing.”

It took every hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona to determine who would be declared the victor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at Daytona International Speedway.
 
From the start, the strongest contenders appeared to be the two Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries – the car’s official IMSA debut – versus the two BMW M8 GTEs for BMW Team RLL. However, Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione took turns in the top three as well.
 
In the final hours of the race, a blanket could have been thrown over the Porsches and the No. 24 BMW of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. Edwards handed the car over to Krohn in the lead with two hours remaining, but Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche was able to pass the BMW fairly quickly after the stop.
 
Krohn lost ground but valiantly fought back to get bumper-to-bumper with Tandy with less than an hour remaining. The Finn pulled his BMW on the outside of the Porsche down the front stretch heading into Turn 1 but was initially unable to complete the “over-under” pass.
 
However, if you don’t succeed, try and try again.
 
Just a few minutes later, Krohn pulled the same move on the front stretch and, with momentum, swung from the outside to the inside of Tandy’s Porsche heading towards the International Horseshoe. He stuck the BMW to complete the pass and didn’t relinquish the lead for the remaining 45 minutes.
 
“It’s stressful,” said Krohn. “I had little sleep through the night. It was all on my shoulders in the end. I didn’t want to be the guy who finishes second and denies these guys the watches. I put my head down. I didn’t know how we did it. I’m out of words. No mistakes from anyone at BMW RLL. This is what it takes to win the race.”
 
Sunday’s victory marked back-to-back GTLM wins at the Rolex 24 for BMW Team RLL. Their 2019 victory being the most recent time the team stood on the top step of the podium.
 
Farfus is the only driver that was part of both winning lineups. For Krohn, Edwards and Mostert, this is their first Rolex watch. Additionally, IMSA entered the Rolex 24 weekend with 997 winners in the sanctioning body’s top-tier series. Mostert was one of five first-time WeatherTech Championship winners at the Rolex 24, sending that number over 1,000 to 1,002.
 
“We were back and forth with the Porsche, we’d get out ahead, fall back, get in front,” said Edwards. “It was a hard fight. I think running at the end of a Daytona 24 hour is a different race. I’d like to say it was a fun battle, but it took a lot out of me. This is by far the biggest victory of my life.”
 
After Krohn’s pass, the No. 24 BMW set sail, with the Nos. 911 and 912 Porsches dueling among themselves for the final two podium positions. With under 40 minutes remaining, Earl Bamber in the No. 912 passed his teammate Tandy in the No. 911. The finishing order remained the same, with Bamber co-driving with Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet, and Tandy alongside Frederick Makowiecki and Matt Campbell.
 
Corvette Racing is still in search of its 100th IMSA victory, with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg finishing the highest of the team’s two entries in fourth.
The BMW Team RLL’s No. 25 of Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Bruno Spengler and Colton Herta rounded out the top five.
 
No. 48 Paul Miller Lamborghini Team Celebrates First Rolex 24 At Daytona Win
After one of the most intensely competitive battles in the Rolex 24 At Daytona field, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini edged the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini by a mere 21 seconds to earn the GT Daytona (GTD) Class victory Sunday afternoon in the classic endurance twice-around-the-clock race on Daytona International Speedway’s infield road course.
 
From green flag to checkered flag the two Lamborghinis fought each other for the storied race victory. After taking the lead for the last time during a pit stop only 50 minutes before the checkered flag flew, Italian Andrea Caldarelli held off the field and brought the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the checkered flag - best in class.
 
Americans Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Bryan Sellers rounded out the driving lineup. It’s the first win for all four drivers and for Miller the long-time team owner and former IMSA driver. The victory was the third consecutive GTD Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for the Italian manufacturer.
 
“A lot of years trying, a lot of years of pain and watching other people walk by you with the watch you want so bad,’’ said Sellers. “It feels so good to have it all finally come together.”
 
Calderelli credited the crew for playing a huge role in the victory. He passed his former teammate and fellow Italian Marco Mapelli in the pits.
 
“It was very tight,’’ Calderelli noted with a smile. “I used to race with Marco in the same car, so we never really fought one-on-one. I know him. It was a very fair fight and we both represent Lamborghini as well. So we didn’t do any stupid things, but outside it was fun to watch and also inside the cockpit.
 
“The last eight hours were like a sprint race.’’
 
The No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini finished second with John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Marco Mapelli driving the Huracan GT3. The No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi Sport R8 LMS GT3 was third.
 
The next race on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts on Saturday, March 21. The race starts at 10:40 a.m. on CNBC. It can also be streamed on the NBC App with authentication and TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio will have coverage available at IMSARadio.com, RadioLeMans.com and Sirius XM.
 
Kyle Busch Finishes First Rolex 24 Appearance
The event ran under clear skies, comfortable temperatures and a star-studded entry list that also featured newly-crowned NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch in a GTD class AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
 
It was Busch’s Rolex 24 debut and although his car finished ninth in the 18-car class field, he was impressive behind the wheel – completing four driving stints for more than six hours total. He was fast enough to make up laps on track, and up until the last driver change, he had the fastest lap in the car moving up the field even after several mechanical challenges so typical in the grueling ‘round-the-clock race.
 
“There was a lot going on and a lot to learn and kind of pick up on and figure out,’’ Busch said of his first Rolex run. “Overall it was good. We had a lot of fun, I enjoyed it. Just being able to get back in a race car again, kind of my season warm-up if you will, and to be able to go out there and run a ton of laps and have a good go of it.
 
“Unfortunately, we just got a little behind with the brake change there, had some issues on the right-front caliper. I guess that got us a little bit further back than we wanted to be. We just didn’t have the long run pace.’’
 
His team owner this weekend, former IndyCar Series champion Jimmy Vasser, was all smiles on pit lane as Busch drove the team’s No. 14 Lexus across the finish line. Obviously disappointed to miss a podium finish, he remained optimistic about his team’s IMSA season and glad to have had Busch behind the wheel for this renowned race.
 
“A great team effort,’’ Vasser said. “With the troubles we had, nobody gave up, everybody pitched in. And speaking on Kyle, he impressed.
 
“I’m not sure why he impressed. He’s a NASCAR champion. He’s won more NASCAR races in the modern day than anybody but it takes a lot of confidence and guts to jump into a discipline that he’d never really done before and he did it with ease.
 
“He was really, really impressive. He was running times of the top sports car pros. It was a joy to have him. He’s a very serious guy, but he was a joy to have on the team and really added a lot for our people to see how a true professional works. Not that we don’t have them here, but he’s a great champion and a true champion.’’
 
Busch said he remains open to making a second Rolex start, but insisted he wanted to evaluate the weekend before making any firm plans.
 
“Too soon to say,’’ Busch said. “I think I will digest all of this and figure it all out. I enjoyed the experience and being able to get out there and do it.”
 
 

 

“Hitting The Apex” is an IMSA.com editorial column by Nate Siebens, a longtime motorsports publicist and journalist. Siebens has more than 20 years of industry experience – including the past seven as part of the IMSA Communications staff – who will offer his observations and insights throughout the 2020 season.
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – What a difference a year makes.
 
One of the biggest storylines coming out of last year’s Rolex 24 At Daytona was the dreadful weather that forced the race to end short of its scheduled distance.
 
This year, thankfully, Mother Nature was only a storyline in that she provided perfect racing conditions for the twice-around-the-clock battle. And that opened a Pandora’s Box of so many more terrific storylines from an unforgettable IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2020 season opener.
 
Let’s start at the top, as in the premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class, where the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R squad of Renger van der Zande, Kamui Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon made Wayne Taylor a four-time Rolex 24 winner as a team owner.
 
If the pair of Mazda Team Joest entries were the class of the field throughout the Roar Before the Rolex 24 three weeks ago and in Thursday’s qualifying session, the No. 10 Cadillac held that status for much of the race. But as fast as the No. 10 was, the race wasn’t without significant drama for the team.
 
Shortly after sunrise, Briscoe ran the red light exiting the pits, earning a costly, stop-plus-60-seconds penalty. As a result, the Aussie dropped from the race lead to a lap down and with full-course caution periods scarce, it appeared that the team’s hopes for victory could be dashed.
 
Fortunately, Briscoe and the team kept their heads down. And when Christina Nielsen’s No. 19 Lamborghini rolled to a stop in Speedway Turn 3 with just under five hours remaining, they were back in business.
 
Briscoe drove a monster final few stints and the No. 10 became the car to beat again in the final four hours.
 
“Yeah, that was a roller coaster,” said Briscoe.
 
Briscoe handed the car off to Kobayashi with just over two-and-a-half hours to go to bring it home. He did just that, taking the checkered flag more than a minute ahead of Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda DPi with 833 laps completed, leading us to the next storyline.
 
They’ve been running 24-hour races here at Daytona almost every year since 1966. And nobody’s ever traveled a farther distance in this race than the top three finishers, who all went a total of 2,965.48 miles, a product of just six full-course caution periods for a total of 28 laps.
 
If they were traveling on interstate highways instead of orbiting Daytona International Speedway, they’d have gotten about 100 miles past San Francisco.
 
But there’s even more storylines – so many more – that made this year’s race compelling. There was the scintillating battle between the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE and the pair of Porsche GT Team 911 RSR that kept the GT Le Mans (GTLM) race in doubt right down to the final hour.
 
In the end, it was the BMW squad owned by Bobby Rahal, David Letterman and Mike Lanigan celebrating for the second consecutive year – this time with the team’s No. 24 car. John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and another Aussie, Chaz Mostert left with their first Rolex Daytona Oyster Perpetual Cosmographs and Brazilian Augusto Farfus with his second-in-a-row.
 
A year ago, Farfus was a last-minute addition to the No. 25 BMW’s driver lineup when Tom Blomqvist couldn’t make the race. This year, he was placed in the No. 24 because he fit the seat in that cockpit better. So it seemed like destiny was calling.
 
There was intrigue in the LMP2 class, where the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA dominated from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning before a lengthy stay on pit lane changed the game. Instead of the No. 52, it was DragonSpeedUSA celebrating its second consecutive Rolex 24 win – with an entirely different quartet of drivers in Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey.
 
The GT Daytona (GTD) class offered an abundance of storylines too. The pole-winning Plaid Porsche was fast early but went to the garage. Two-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch nearly matched road-racing expert co-driver Jack Hawksworth’s pace in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus, although the car finished eight laps behind the winners.
 
And who were those winners? None other than the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 co-driven by Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli who each earned their first Rolex watches and gave team owner Paul Miller his first Daytona trophy.
 
It’s been a good few years for Miller, whose team also has won the WeatherTech Championship GTD title and victories at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and Motul Petit Le Mans, as well.
 
“We’re only missing Watkins Glen,” said Miller in victory lane.
 
You couldn’t ask for much more than what the 58th rendition of the Rolex 24 At Daytona delivered. It was a near-perfect kick-off for the 51st IMSA season and sets the stage for a truly fantastic WeatherTech Championship season in 2020.
 
Bring on Sebring.
 

If Ken Roczen had any naysayers left, those cynics were certainly silenced Saturday night when the rider of the Wiseco-sponsored No. 94 Honda CRF450R captured his second win of the season when Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, made its annual visit to State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. 


 Roczen was poetry in motion Saturday night, scripting three perfect sonnets to collect wins in all three premiere 450SX Class main events in the first of three Triple Crown races on the 2020 schedule. 
 The triple crown format features a three-race showdown where both the 450SX and 250SX Classes compete in three main events. Each triple crown race features Olympic-style scoring, where the rider with the lowest point tally at the end of the night collects the overall win. 


 Roczen tallied a perfect 1-1-1 score across all three 12-minute-plus-one-lap main events to stretch his championship lead to eight points over second place Eli Tomac. 


 Despite the grueling nature of Supercross as a whole, never mind the challenges that come along with Triple Crown rounds, Roczen made it look easy by leading 38 out of 39 total laps in the night. Despite two red flags, requiring the 22-rider field to return to the starting gate twice for restarts, Roczen never wavered, delivering three top-of-the box performances. 


 “I had good battles with Eli (Tomac) all night,” commented Roczen during his post-race media availability. “I’m just having a lot of fun. I’m really confident in my starts right now, so that helps. Those red flags are never fun to see, especially for the person who went down. When you line back up for a restart, there are 22 guys going down the start straight heading for the first turn so there’s some sketchiness happening there. The extra start definitely doesn’t help.”


 “Overall, we just stayed out of trouble and got two holeshots. I rode really well … and we were really focused. I’m still blown away by having three main event wins. It’s great. I had an awesome time.”
 Roczen’s Team Honda HRC teammate Justin Brayton turned in a respectable 7-7-9 performance to finish sixth overall and record his best effort of the season. Always a fan favorite and one of the sport’s longest tenured journeymen, Brayton notched his 155th career start Saturday night and brought home his fourth top-10 of the year.


 “The night went pretty good, but I had a lot of bad starts for some reason,” explained Brayton. “I really struggled with track position at the beginning of the race and I came from the back pretty much all three races. I’m a little disappointed in that because I felt like with my lap times, a better track position could have given me a top-five finish. But to end up sixth is nothing to hang our heads for at all. It was a positive 
night, awesome to see Kenny get the win, and the team’s just gelling really well right now. Everyone’s doing an amazing job and I keep getting better and better every weekend. I hope to keep this momentum rolling and be in the top five next week.” 

 In Western Regional 250SX class action, GEICO Honda’s Christian Craig looked strong early on aboard his Wiseco-powered machine, securing a solid third-place effort in the opening main event for the junior circuit. Much to his chagrin and for the third week in a row, an incident on the track found him heading back to the pit and paddock area prior to the checkered flag. 


 Unfortunately, Craig left Round 4 with injuries that will keep him sidelined for the next two races, but a welcome break in the Western Regional schedule will give him plenty of time to recover before his planned return at the end of March for the Seattle Supercross. 


 “I was super excited to be back in Glendale,” said Craig. “That’s where I won a few years ago and I just love the dirt, stadium and fans there. The whoops were pretty good, too, and didn’t break down much which suits me well. I really felt like it was my night to at least podium if not better. The first main was pretty good. I got the holeshot then some contact with another rider shot me off the track, but I was still able to make my way up to third from probably seventh or eighth. I was pumped on my riding in that first main. Second main, bunch of us were going into a corner after the sand and I grabbed my brake a little too hard. So, it was just one thing after another. I can be a front runner, which makes me happy, but set back after set back gets frustrating. I’ll get myself all fixed up and be back in Seattle."


 Monster Energy AMA Supercross returns to northern California this weekend when the series will make its annual trek to Oakland’s RingCentral Coliseum. The fifth of 17 races on the 2020 Monster Energy AMA Supercross schedule will be televised live on NBCSN Sat., February 1 beginning at 8:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, 5:30 p.m. Pacific.

Last Friday, one of the most significant announcements in the history of sports car racing was made when IMSA and the ACO announced convergence for the top category of the sport.
 
Executives from both sanctioning bodies participated in a press conference announcing the new LMDh race car, which will roll out in the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) in September 2021 and in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in January 2022.
 
The LMDh will be eligible in the top category globally, paving the way for competitors to compete for overall victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 24 Hours of Le Mans, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, and all other WeatherTech Championship and FIA WEC races.
 
The reaction to the news has been understandably, overwhelmingly positive. Here’s a sampling of what’s been said in the industry since the news broke on the eve of the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona:
 
Autoweek.com, Steven Cole Smith:
“How important was the joint announcement Friday at Daytona International Speedway between IMSA and the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO)?
 
“Enormous,” said David Wilson, president of Toyota Racing Development. “A game-changer.”
 
Indeed, it was arguably the most important development since the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the GRAND-AM series, creating the current IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.”
 
RACER.com, Marshall Pruett:
“The wall that kept IMSA and the ACO from playing together with marquee prototypes is finally coming down. Of the many compelling aspects to highlight from the convergence between the ACO and IMSA, I’m encouraged by where the conversation started.”
 
RoadandTrack.com, Brian Silvestro:
“Its formation means manufacturers can compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Spa, Petit Le Mans, and both endurance races at Sebring, which is pretty awesome.”
 
DailySportsCar.com, Stephen Kilbey:
“The huge announcement on the convergence of the top class of both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and FIA World Endurance Championship today has left a huge number of manufacturers with plenty of thinking to do.
 
The opportunity to take one car and compete with it at some of the biggest, most historic endurance races on the motorsport calendar is one that many marques feel will be hard to pass up.”
 
TopGear.com, Greg Potts:
“The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), which looks after the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in the US – that’s the one which includes the Daytona 24 Hours – has finally come together with Le Mans organiser Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) to converge the rules of its top-spec classes. Hurrah!”
 
Graham Goodwin, Motorsports Writer:
“A truly historic moment for endurance racing – well done @imsa @24hoursoflemans and @FIAWEC” (via Twitter)
 
Wayne Taylor Racing Team Owner, Wayne Taylor:
“The truth is that with all the discussions about IMSA and the ACO, I can’t think of anything more exciting for me, Max and this team to be able to go with Cadillac and try and win the Le Mans 24 Hours.
 
“Somehow we’re going to have to get Cadillac and GM focused on this. We’ll figure that out; it would be good to take this group to the 24 Hours of Le Mans and win overall.” (SportsCar365.com, 1/27)
 
Acura Team Penske Owner, Roger Penske:
“We have been asking for this for a number of years. We can run here [at Daytona], we can run Petit Le Mans and we can run Sebring.
 
“Le Mans is one of the things we’ve never won. I have been there twice. We need to go and be able to race there and race to win.
 
“So, this convergence is going to allow these world-class events to have that kind of competition. The OEMs don’t have to spend $300 million to go to Le Mans and race each other. They can take that down many, many times and we can have people with cars coming from the U.S. and other parts of the world enter these big races. I think it’s great.” (Motorsport.com, 1/25)
 
Mazda Motorsports Director of Motorsports, Nelson Cosgrove:
“It’s an historic day. It’s super exciting for motorsports in general. It gives us a wonderful runway going into the next 10 years to race competitively and globally. So now it’s going to be incredible to see everybody that comes out and wants to be involved.” (RACER.com, 1/24)
 
Cadillac Racing Director, Mark Kent:
“Cadillac congratulates IMSA and the ACO on their announcement of a convergence in the top class of prototype racing. Since the introduction of the Cadillac DPi-V.R in 2017, we have had tremendous success in North America in the IMSA series and are encouraged at the prospect of an international formula for the future of prototype racing. Once we obtain further details, we will evaluate if our participation aligns with our company’s future vision.” (RACER.com, 1/24)
 
McLaren CEO, Zak Brown:
“Major positive news for global sportscar racing from ACO and @IMSA today. Great vision and collaboration to create better racing and therefore better entertainment for fans. The dawn of a new era for sportscars.” (via Twitter)
 
United Autosports Co-Founder, Richard Dean:
“A sensible approach to a global top class in sports cars. This has to be much more affordable and attractive to so many more manufacturers. The opportunity to enter into a motorsport programme that allows one car design with an already proven and cost effective LMP2 chassis that can race at Le Mans and Daytona in both IMSA and WEC is fantastic.” (via Twitter)
 
ORECA Technical Director, David Floury:
“For sure being based on a cost-capped LMP2, it will reduce the costs quite significantly while it’s global, so with the same car you can win in Daytona, Sebring, Le Mans and in WeatherTech and WEC makes it a very good investment for the OEMs.” (SportsCar365.com, 1/24)
 

Team owner Wayne Taylor, forced to shuffle the deck this year when it came to assembling a driver lineup for the 58th Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, came up with a full house of talent. The result: a successful defense of last year’s championship and a third victory in the last four years in North America’s premier sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.

 

With the exit of his son Jordan to another team and the absence of Formula 1 legend Fernando Alonso, who joined the team only for last year’s Rolex 24, Taylor landed former and current IndyCar Series stars Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon to join returnees Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van der Zande. The foursome co-drove the increasingly iconic No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi to the victory, giving Taylor his fourth Rolex 24 championship as an owner; Taylor also co-drove to victory twice, during his driving days. Dixon, a former Indianapolis 500 champion, came home a Rolex 24 champion for the third time.

 

Kobayashi brought the Cadillac home Sunday afternoon with a final two-and-a-half-hour stint. The team overcame a stutter-step just after 8:15 a.m., with nearly five-and-a-half hours remaining, Briscoe ran a red light at the pit road exit; the penalty was a stop-and-go the next time around, plus 60 seconds. The lead was lost to the No. 5 Cadillac DPi driven by Loic Duval. At 9:45 a.m., during a round of pit stops with Briscoe back at the wheel, the No. 10 retook the lead for good.

 

“Just keeping it on the track [was the key],” Briscoe said. “Kamui did a fantastic job the last two-and-a-half hours. We knew the car was fast. We were just relieved there were no yellows at the end so we could maintain the lead. Just so proud of all these guys. Wayne just puts together this program and they are always a car that can win the Rolex 24. Amazing to be a part of it. Whew! We did it.”

 

As expected, with a slightly smaller field (38 cars) compared to some years, the race pace was relentless and caution periods (33 laps total) were minimal. A total of 833 laps were run on the 3.56-mile road course, equating to 2,965 miles – both race records. The distance traveled by the three cars who finished on the lead lap was roughly the equivalent to a Daytona Beach-Napa Valley cross-country road trip.

 

Kobayashi crossed the finish line 1 minute, 05.426 seconds ahead of the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda DPi co-driven by Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla. The No. 5 Cadillac finished third, co-driven by Duval, Joao Barbosa and Sebastien Bourdais.

 

“As everybody knows this is a very difficult race to win,” said Taylor, a native of South Africa and a longtime Orlando area resident. “This year was probably more difficult than any other year. We had a [lower] car count, which meant there was not going to be a whole lot of yellows so pretty much everybody was running flat-out the entire time, working really hard.

 

“Truly, the team was really outstanding. These drivers … can’t say enough about them. They’re like superstars [but] there are no egos. This is a team event and everybody is focusing on the big picture and that’s to win for everybody.”

In addition to capturing the overall championship, Taylor’s team also topped the headlining Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class. Three other classes also competed simultaneously – Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).

The No. 81 ORECA co-driven by Colin Braun, Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley and Harrison Newey won the LMP2 title. GTLM was won by John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, Chaz Mostert and Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 BMW M8. And in GTD, Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli drove the No. 48 Audi R8 to victory.

The Rolex 24 – the season-opening race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season – once again attracted an “all-star” field featuring six former Indianapolis 500 champions plus the two-time and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion, Kyle Busch. Competing in the Rolex 24 for the first time, Busch co-drove the No. 14 Lexus RC F with Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and Parker Chase.

 

Busch nonetheless looked like a sports car veteran at times, doing both double and triple stints to help push the No. 14 to a respectable ninth-place finish in the production-based GTD class. That was no small task. His team’s chances for a class victory took a double hit this weekend: first, when the team didn’t qualify on Thursday because of an engine change, resulting in a rear-of-the-field start; then, when a brake change caused a crippling 10-minute pit stop just before 4:30 a.m., nearly 15 hours into the twice-around-the-clock race.

“We just didn’t have the long-run pace,” Busch said. “Our tires would [wear] and overall it was a real handful there late in runs. That’s kind of where we lost ground. But getting that first 24-hour go was pretty cool so we will see what happens [in the future].”

Auto racing resumes Feb. 8-16 at Daytona International Speedway, with DAYTONA Speedweeks Presented By AdventHealth, a nine-day slate of NASCAR racing capped by the 62nd annual DAYTONA 500 – “The Great American Race” – on Sunday, Feb. 16.

Tickets for all Daytona International Speedway events can be purchased online at www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com or by calling 1-800-PITSHOP. Fans can stay connected with Daytona International Speedway on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat, and by downloading Daytona International Speedway's mobile app, for the latest Speedway news throughout the season.

 

The 2019 Indy Pro 2000 Championship Presented by Cooper Tires champion, Kyle Kirkwood, will join the Andretti Autosport Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires team for the 2020 season. The rookie stand-out will drive the No. 28 car for the reigning championship team.

“We are very excited about the addition of Kyle to our Indy Lights program,” said Michael Andretti, CEO and Chairman, Andretti Autosport. “We’ve followed Kyle’s career from when he started in 2018 with the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship and have been impressed with his success in every race that led to his Indy Pro 2000 Championship last year. As a championship-caliber team, Kyle displays the desire and talent that we look for in our drivers and are excited to see him hit the track for the 2020 Indy Lights season.”

A native of Jupiter, Florida, Kirkwood started his Road to Indy journey in the Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship in 2018, where he claimed 12 wins in 14 races [a series record tied with J.R. Hildebrand] and stood on the podium 13 times. In dominating fashion, Kirkwood captured the championship title, earning a scholarship to compete in the Indy Pro 2000 Championship where he won nine races in 2019 in his fight for the series title.

“I am ecstatic that I can now say I am competing in Indy Lights with Andretti Autosport this season,” said Kirkwood. “They have established a winning program in Indy Lights and we plan on carrying that reputation throughout 2020.  We are a fantastic match for each other and our Sebring test in December proved that.”

Without a family background in racing, Kirkwood has earned four championships in three years [F4 United States Championship/’17, USF2000 Championship/’18, F3 United States Championship/’18, and Indy Pro 2000 Championship/’19]. Since 2017, the 21-year old has racked up 47 wins and 55 podiums in 71 starts.

Kirkwood will take to the streets of St. Petersburg, Florida, for the Indy Lights season opener March 13 – 15.

For more information, visit AndrettiAutosport.com. 

The Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) and North America’s sanctioning body for endurance racing, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA), have today announced that agreement has been reached for a common future with convergence of the top categories of endurance racing.
 
On the occasion of the 2020 Rolex 24 At Daytona, the two sanctioning bodies unveiled the guiding principle for this platform – the introduction as the top category of competition of LMDh, which will be eligible for both the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. This joint platform responds to the wishes of numerous manufacturers.
 
The chance for automotive manufacturers to compete with the same car at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, the Rolex 24 At Daytona, at SuperSebring or at Spa-Francorchamps, at the Motul Petit Le Mans or even Silverstone, will soon become a reality.
 
The ACO and IMSA have together established the basis for joint regulations to govern the new LMDh category. The objective is that, from September 2021 in the FIA WEC and from January 2022 in the WeatherTech Championship, manufacturers will be able to enter the top category and compete in the two leading championships in endurance racing with this new model of car, LMDh.
 
The two sanctioning bodies were inspired by elements from each of their respective regulations, namely from the ACO’s Le Mans Hypercar and those in preparation by IMSA for the DPi 2.0.
 
The result of this convergence, the LMDh car will be:
 
  • Based on a new chassis common to both ACO and IMSA, using elements of the Le Mans Hypercar and LMP2 chassis, and built by the four current LMP2 manufacturers: Dallara, Ligier, Multimatic and Oreca. This chassis will also be used for the new generation LMP2.
  • The car will use a common hybrid KERS system, on the rear axle.
  • Its silhouette and design will be modifiable, developed according to the brand or style of the manufacturer which will provide the engine power for the car
 
More technical details for the car will be revealed in March at SuperSebring, in a presentation from the ACO and IMSA Technical Departments.
 
In the future the top category of endurance racing will include both LMDh and Le Mans Hypercar. A balance of performance system will ensure fair competition. 
 
Pierre Fillon, President of the ACO: “This announcement today is the crucial starting point for a joint endurance racing future, supported by both the ACO and IMSA. The platform represents the convergence achieved by both organisations which is a great success story for endurance racing.  A manufacturer will soon be able to compete in the top category of two championships, the FIA WEC and the WeatherTech Championship. We can’t emphasise enough, as it’s exceptional, how many opportunities this long-term sporting and marketing vision will open up.”
 
Jim France, IMSA Chairman: “When my father, Bill France Sr., brought the first Daytona Continental sports car race here to Daytona International Speedway back in 1962, he wanted to bring together sports car drivers, teams and manufacturers from around the world. With the ACO, IMSA and manufacturers aligned, today’s announcement proudly takes my father’s vision to the next level.”
 
Gérard Neveu, CEO of the FIA World Endurance Championship: “The big winner today is endurance racing as the door is now opened to many additional competitors to compete at the highest level on both sides of the Atlantic with the same car. The two sanctioning bodies should be congratulated for their vision and spirit of collaboration. Le Mans Hypercars and the new LMDh cars racing together at Le Mans or Daytona will be an incredibly exciting prospect for endurance fans across the world.”
 
John Doonan, IMSA President: “On the eve of IMSA’s 51st season of competition, future race fans will regard today as one of the most significant of all time for IMSA, the ACO and the world of sports car racing. Providing a common platform for top-level prototype racing globally has been a goal for the sanctioning bodies, our manufacturers – and most importantly, sports car racing fans everywhere – for many years, and we are proud to say the opportunity has finally arrived. We are grateful for the collaboration with our partners at the ACO and the open dialogue with our manufacturer partners that led us to today’s introduction of the LMDh platform.”
 
The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) announced the addition of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) as a partner in its IMSA Green Racing program. The DOE joins existing program partners – the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and SAE International.
 
This extension further helps IMSA pursue Green Racing protocols and its own IMSA Green program. These programs keep its racing relevant for manufacturers and marketing partners by using proactive environmental responsibility. The government partnerships allow IMSA to collaborate with official partners such as Michelin and VP Racing Fuels to advance these important initiatives.
 
“IMSA is thrilled to extend its partnership with the DOE as part of the IMSA Green program,” said IMSA President John Doonan. “Their addition to our existing relationships with the EPA and SAE International show the commitment of these agencies in working with us in the consistently changing mobility landscape. These affiliations prove motorsports, and in particular IMSA, can be innovative in this space while remaining attractive to our stakeholders and fans.”
 
“Working with IMSA provides a great opportunity to showcase cutting-edge technologies for clean and efficient vehicles,” said Assistant Secretary for Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Daniel R Simmons. “The past association between IMSA and DOE has been critical to the development and implementation of this program and we welcome the renewal of this relationship.”
 
IMSA is focused on identifying ways to return to the Green Challenge Championship status as it defined in the SAE J2880 Green Racing protocols which were first published in 2008 and revised in 2014. Currently the sanctioning body operates at the Green Racing Series level.
Riley Motorsports knows endurance racing.
 
Not only has the team won three consecutive IMSA Michelin Endurance Cups from 2017 – 2019 in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, but they are now back-to-back endurance race winners in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
 
Following the four-hour BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway to open the season, the No. 35 Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Dylan Murry, Jim Cox and Jeroen Bleekemolen crossed the finish line first to claim the Grand Sport (GS) victory. The same trio of drivers also won last summer’s four-hour race at Watkins Glen International – and Murry and Cox also won November’s four-hour Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore at Sebring.
 
“We’re petitioning IMSA to make all races four hours now,” said Cox.
 
However, the Mercedes-AMG didn’t cross the finish line at normal race pace. The yellow flag came out with 15 minutes left on the clock after Scott Maxwell’s No. 19 Ford Mustang GT4 slid across the grass in the bus stop and rear-first into the tire barrier. The car flipped upside down after the incident, but Maxwell was not injured.
 
The win for the Riley Motorsports trio is the second of their Pilot Challenge careers. The first was that race at Watkins Glen.
 
“I think the whole Riley team has done well with pit stop strategy and preparation,” said Bleekemolen, who has been a part of the team for each of the endurance accomplishments. “That’s definitely a big part of it, and then obviously Jim and Dylan also drove well, so it’s the whole thing together. I’ve ran a lot with this team, also in the [Rolex] 24, and we’ve always been leading the races here, sometimes even most of the race just because they have a good car, they know how to do it.”
 
Murry held a decent gap over another Mercedes-AMG, the No. 57 of Philip Ellis for Winward Racing before the caution came out, but that wasn’t always the case. Stalking from second place, Ellis gained on Murry and wound up leading two laps as the final pit-stop sequence occurred. However, Riley Motorsports’ work in the pits cycled Murry back into the lead for the remainder of the race.
 
“To be able to drive at Daytona is one thing, to be able to win here is an entirely different level, different world,” said Murry. “I can’t describe the emotions I’m going through right now. My dad has raced here, I grew up coming to this 24-hour race all my life watching my dad race, go around, and I finally get to stand on victory lane. It’s touching and special to me. I always said if I could win one race it would be Daytona and it’s come true and it’s exciting.”
 
Ellis and co-driver Bryce Ward held on for the runner-up finish while their sister car, the No. 4 shared by Indy Dontje and Russell Ward, made it a podium sweep for the German manufacturer.
 
The BMW Endurance Challenge race broadcast will air on NBCSN at 1 p.m. ET on Thursday, February 6. It is also available on-demand on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
 
Road Shagger Racing Audi Clinches Memorable TCR Victory
While the race anticlimactically ended under caution, the thrill and excitement from Gavin Ernstone was as palpable as ever as he watched the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS come to the checkered flag.
 
Watching his co-driver, Jon Morley, cross the finish line first among the TCR class cars, Ernstone stood on the pit wall reveling in the fact they had just won on the 3.56-mile circuit at the World Center of Racing.
 
While they’ve experienced victory once before (at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca last year) during the team’s inaugural season, it’s clear this one will be long remembered.
 
“It was extremely emotional for me,” said Ernstone. “Daytona is legendary all around the world. We can say we won at Daytona. I was sobbing like a baby. I couldn’t watch the last 45 minutes of the race. (It was certainly) emotional for me, I’m sure for Jon too, it was huge and one of the biggest days of my life for sure.”
 
The No. 61 Audi started 11th on the grid, but slowly worked its way through the field. During the final pit stop of the race, Morley came within inches of the No. 32 Speed Syndicate Motorsports Audi of Mikey Taylor. In similar fashion to the GS class winners, a clutch pit stop kept the Road Shagger machine a fraction ahead of Taylor as the two cars left pit lane nose-to-tail, but Morley kept Taylor’s Audi at bay.
 
Taylor and co-driver William Tally finished second, while Stephen Simpson and Michael Johnson in the No. 54 machine for JDC-Miller Motorsports finished third, making it an all-Audi podium.
 
“I settled in following three other Audis all with incredible drivers in them,” said Morley. “We were helping each other, drafting, I could hang with them, I’d catch them every once and awhile. It didn’t feel like I had a distinct advantage on them, but there was a lot of time left. If I stuck with them, I knew my crew would get me by them and they did."
 
The second race of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season takes place at Sebring International Raceway during the SuperSebring weekend on March 18 – 21. The two-hour Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 goes green on Thursday, March 19 at 3:50 p.m. ET. That race is available live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. Tickets can be purchased at SebringRaceway.com.
 

 

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