Rolex 24: No Sunrise Over Daytona

By Chris Jasurek
Epoch Times Staff
Created: January 27, 2013 Last Updated: January 27, 2013
Related articles: Sports » Motorsports
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The #01 Telmex-Ganassi Riley-BMW led most of the race, with no driver errors, no crew errors,and no mechanical problems. Can Scott Pruett and company be stopped? (Chris Jasurek/The Epoch Times)

The #01 Telmex-Ganassi Riley-BMW led most of the race, with no driver errors, no crew errors,and no mechanical problems. Can Scott Pruett and company be stopped? (Chris Jasurek/The Epoch Times)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla.—With six-and-a-half hours of racing left in the Grand Am Rolex 24 at Daytona, Scott Pruett’s #01 Telmex-Ganassi held the lead, as it had for the vast majority of the race.

After fifteen hours of competition—five-eighths of the race—there was the slightest sign that dawn might bring some hope to the teams trying vainly to  chase the first-placed Telmex-Ganassi #01 Riley-MW.

Telmex-Ganassi still held the lead with Juan Pablo Montoya in the #01 car—the car of Scott Pruett, who is looking for his fifth Rolex win—but the second Telmex-Ganassi car, the #02, lost eight laps in the garage. The first real chink had appeared in the team’s armor. If one of these quick and powerful Riley-BMWs could break, so could the other.

It turned out Jamie McMurray was leaving the pits in the 02 Telmex and for some reason he thought the pit-lane speed limiter was broken. Eager to avoid a penalty, McMurray slammed on the brakes and drove off the course, damaging the undertray and bending the right front suspension.

There were only five cars still on the lead lap: The #2 Starworks, #10 Velocity, the #9 Action Express, and the #90 Spirit of Daytona—plus the leader, of course.

The Telmex-Ganassi still had its edge in top speed—Allan McNish admitted on Twitter that there was no way to beat the blue and white machines on pace alone. McMurray’s incident wasn’t likely to happen twice, and had nothing to do with the car itself—McMurray admitted it was entirely his fault. Still, any hope at all is better than none.

Montoya had a lead of over ten second as the fifteenth houtr of racing ended. The real battle in the Daytona Prototype class was between Ryan Dalziel and Max Angelelli, battling for second.

Dalziel, co-driving with McNish in the #2 Starworks Riley-Ford struggled to hold of Max “The Ax” in the #10 Velocity WW Dallara-Corvette. Both drivers visibly pushed their cars to the limit—the cars could be seen squirming and shuddering under braking, and fighting for traction accelerating out of corners.

At the fifteen-hour mark, on lap 456, Angelelli, who seemed to have better grip out of corners, pushed past Ryan Dalziel to take second.

Then came the fog.

Next: The Fog

Can’t Race if You Can’t See the Track

As the clocked ticked off the start of the fifteenth hour, a dense fog rolled in, obscuring not just the sunrise but most of the track. Visibility was cut to a few hundred feet—the distance a race car at full speed travels in one second. When exceptionally thick billows blew through, visibility was cut to a fraction of that.

Race organizers had no choice but to wave the yellow flag for the eleventh time of the race. At 6:52, the flashing yellow caution lights signaled a suspension of competition. Ninety minutes later, cars were still circulating slowly, helping to keep the track dry with the heat of their passage but unable to safely race.

Fans didn’t seem to mind the hiatus—people took the opportunity to build fires, cook breakfast and wake up gently, not worried that they would miss any action.

Finally, after an hour and 45 minutes, the green flag waved again, and racing resumed. Scott Pruett in the #01 trailed leader Ryan Dalziel by four seconds

That lead didn’t last. It only took Pruett eight minutes to retake the lead and reestablish Telmex dominance.

GT: Constant Change

While the #01 Temex car dominated the DP portion of the event, GT offered a much more varied contest. Porsche owned the top three for a while, then no Porsches appeared in the top ten. Ferrari had the lead for a while; Audi had its turn on top.

Last year’s GT winner,  #44 Magnus Porsche, was always in or near the top contenders; minutes shy of  fifteen hours gone, Andy Lally retook the GT lead, passing Nick Longhi in the 2012 GT season champion, the #69 AIM Ferrari; a couple of seconds back, Matt Plumb in the #13 Rum Bum Audi was poised to strike

Plumb found his opening and got by Longhi by the fifteenth-hour mark, but none of these drivers were secure in their positions—1.8 seconds separated the three. After racing resumed, the order changed yet again: Markus Winklehock in the Rum Bum Audi passed Olivier Beretta in the Scuderia Ferrari, who led Patrick Pilet in the NGT Momo Porsche

There. is still plenty of racing to come; more than six hours until the checkered flag waves at 3:30 p.m.

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