Conquest and controversy conclude the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona [spoilers]
For those of you still with us, the first race in the United SportsCar Championship (USCC) is done, but the discussions about it certainly won't end for a while. Daytona Prototypes claimed the first four overall places, the top spot taken by the No. 5 Action Express Coyote-Chevrolet Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastien Bourdain and Burt Friselle. The 16th and final caution of the race bunched the field up for an eight-minute sprint to the flag, so the first place getter finished just 1.4 seconds ahead of the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Dallara-Chevrolet Corvette DP driven by Max Angelelli. Third place went to Brian Friselle in the No. 9 Action Express Chevrolet Corvette DP, 20 seconds down. Chevrolet power hasn't taken the overall win since 2003, eleven years later it scores a one-two-three-four. The No. 6 Muscle Milk/Pickett Racing ORECA-Nissan 03 scored fifth place, the top LMP2 finisher.
The Prototype Challenge class win went to the No. 54 CORE Autosport team of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett, Mark Wilkins and James Gue.
Porsche claimed the GTLM class with the CORE Autosport factory team in its 911 RSR, Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz and Patrick Pilet sharing wheel duties. They were 2.8 seconds ahead of the works BMW RLL team in the No. 55 BMW Z4 GTE piloted by Andy Priaulx, Bill Auberlen, Maxime Martin and Joey Hand. The pole-sitting SRT Motorsports No. 91 Viper GTS-R finished third.
The GTD class wasn't decided until an hour after the race. On the final lap the Level 5 Motorsports No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Alessadro Pier Guidi was doing wheel-to-wheel battle with the Flying Lizard Motorsports No. 45 Audi R8 LMS driven by Markus Winkelhock. Exiting the kink between the two infield chicanes, Pier Guidi moved over toward Winkelhock, who drove onto the grass to avoid him. Pier Guidi crossed the line first, but the race director issued him a stop-and-hold plus 75-second penalty for "avoidable contact," demoting him to fourth. Replays did not appear to show contact, Winkelhock said there was slight contact but the bigger issue was having to back off because Pier Guidi was moving over to take the inside line for the next corner. You can watch video of the incident (while it's still up) that appears to show there was no contact.
An hour later, IMSA reversed the decision of the race director, reinstating Pier Guidi to first place, Winkelhock taking second. The formerly second-place but now third-place slot went to the Snow Racing No. 58 Porsche 911 GT America.
That's your 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, done. We'll have a lengthy recap and lots more photos and video ready soon.
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