PASSION, DETERMINATION AND PREPARATION PAY DIVIDENDS
The 51st Rolex 24 At Daytona put on a tremendous finale, maintaining tension right up to the last. Pre-race favourites in the Daytona Prototype class, Chip Ganassi Racing's #01 BMW/Riley, took the chequered flag as the Rolex timing hit the 24-hour mark. The script may appear pre-written, but such was the nature of the contest that Juan Pablo Montoya, driving the final stint, did not have an impregnable lead until the last five minutes, when he passed the #10 Velocity Worldwide Corvette DP on lap 706. In the GT class, the #24 Audi R8, of Audi Sport Customer Racing AJR, took the honours, and the GX class win went to the #16 Porsche Cayman of Napleton Racing.
The #01 drivers, Americans Scott Pruett and Charlie Kimball, along with team-mates Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya and Mexican Memo Rojas, were jubilant. Pruett's fifth overall win in the Rolex 24 At Daytona puts him alongside Hurley Haywood in the record book. Haywood was one of the first to congratulate Pruett, who was predictably emotional: 'It's just an incredible day all the way around, winning with these guys, and then at the end of it to have Hurley there was a very special thing.'
Team principal, Chip Ganassi, celebrated his fifth overall win in ten starts at the Rolex 24 At Daytona: 'I am very, very proud and especially because every single one of them has been with the same crew, same team. My hat is off to our guys in Indianapolis who put this car together. They are in charge of the preparation and worked very, very hard.'
In the GT class the battle was every bit as fierce, even if the outcome was decided some 40 minutes earlier when Felipe Albuquerque took a decisive lead by staying out on track while the #69 AIM Autosport Team FXDD pitted: 'When they put me in the car, no one really believed we could win. We were one lap down with two and half hours to go. I just drove every lap like qualifying. I didn't care about the car, about the tyres, about anything. I was flat out.' Co-driver, Dion von Moltke put Alburquerque's drive in perspective: 'Two hours ago we thought we were out. Felipe got in the car and put in one of the most amazing drives I have ever witnessed.'
For Napleton Racing, the GX win concluded a period of two and a half months of working 24/7 to be on the start line for the class' debut at the 2013 Rolex 24 At Daytona. Driver David Donohue paid tribute: 'For us it was a race of preparation. Our team did a superior job when this programme was conceived in building this car and making it reliable.' Co-driver Shane Lewis pointed to just how reliable they had been: 'If it wasn't for some pit-lane violations and a couple of minor on-track incidents we would have had the cleanest run that I think anybody has had at the Rolex 24 for a long time.'
The 52nd Rolex 24 At Daytona will be held over the weekend of 25-26 January 2014.
Provisional Top Three in Class
Pos/Car no./Team/Car/Laps/Fastest Lap/Best Ave. Speed
1/01/Chip Ganassi Racing/BMW Riley/709/1:41.327/126.482 (Overall Winner)
3/60/Michael Shank Racing/Ford Riley/709/1:42.051/125.584
1/24/Audi Sport Customer Racing AJR/Audi R8 GRAND-AM/678/1:48.336/118.299
2/52/Audi Sport Customer Racing APR/Audi R8 GRAND-AM/678/1.48.316/118.320
3/69/AIM Autosport Team FXDD/Ferrari 458/678/1:48.676/117.959
1/16/Napleton Racing/Porsche Cayman/635/1.55.269/111.183
2/22/Bullet Racing/Porsche Cayman GX.R/625/1:59.331/107.399
3/38/BGB Motorsports/Porsche Cayman GX.R/614/1.55.916/110.563
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Rolex has been a partner of the Daytona International Speedway since its earliest beginnings, and title sponsor of the Rolex 24 At Daytona since 1992. A Press Pack about the Rolex 24 At Daytona is available to download here and Photo Story highlighting the race's heritage and atmosphere is available to view here.
Further information on the Rolex 24 At Daytona may be found at http://www.daytonainternationalspeedway.com and http://www.grand-am.com.