After running together for more than 19 hours, a late-race duel erupted between Chip Ganassi Racing’s pair of Ford GTs with the No. 67 driven by Ryan Briscoe taking the GT Le Mans victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
- RESULTS: 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona
At the end of the first hour, the eventual winning car was mired at the bottom of GTLM running order while its sister car, the No. 66 Ford, led the division after getting by the pole-sitting No. 3 Corvette C7.R soon after the drop of the green flag.
By the end of the fifth hour, the two Fords ran in the first and second positions and repeated the feat at the end of each subsequent hour through to the end of the 56th running of the historic race.
Briscoe’s chance to secure victory came into sharper focus when both cars made their final pit stops with 40 minutes remaining. With a noticeably quicker stop, he held a 6.9-second advantage over teammate Joey Hand entering the final stint.
After extending his lead over Hand to 11.2 seconds, Briscoe took the checkered flag and secured the class victory for Ganassi and co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon. The achievement marked Ganassi’s 200th win across all series it competes in.
The pair of Corvette Racing cars, driven at the finish by Antonio Garcia and Marcel Fassler, were Ganassi’s closest competition, yet both cars finished two laps behind the class winner with Garcia rounding out the GTLM podium in the No. 3.
Alessandro Pier Guidi completed the top five in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.
Grasser Gives Lamborghini First 24-Hour Victory
The No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Grasser Racing Team outlasted its GT Daytona competition to deliver the manufacturer’s first victory in a 24-hour race.
Through the first six hours, the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 appeared untouchable but a Balance of Performance violation knocked it out of contention, giving both Michael Shank Racing and Riley Motorsports opportunities to lead the class at the halfway and 18-hour marks, respectively.
In the final quarter of the race, the Grasser Lamborghini came to the fore, leading at the conclusion of each of the final five hours.
The car, driven by Mirko Bortolotti at the race’s conclusion, crossed the finish line with a one-lap advantage over the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 at the hands of Alvaro Parente.
Andrea Caldarelli put a second Lamborghini on the podium with a strong finish in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing machine. Jeroen Bleekemolen finished fourth in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 while Sam Bird completed the top five in the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.
The No. 29 Audi never recovered from its penalty and ended the race ninth in class and three laps behind Bortolotti.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will contest its next race, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, on March 17.