Acura has gone back-to-back in Daytona with the Meyer Shank Racing #60 of Kiwi driver Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud taking one of the closest-ever 24 at Daytona events.
After 24 hours of racing the top four were separated by less than 12 seconds, the #10 Acura making it a famous 1-2 for the manufacturer. New Zealander Brendon Hartley featured in that team, including Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Louis Delatraz, coming home some 4 seconds behind the winner.
Scott Dixon made it a Kiwi on each of the three steps of the podium, finishing third for Cadillac Racing with Sébastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande.
Earl Bamber, the fourth Kiwi in the new GTP class, finished fourth with Richard Westbrook and Alex Lynn as co-drivers.
Four cars finishing in such close proximity is a welcome way to see in the GTP era for IMSA following DPi’s farewell last season. An ever-growing list of hypercar entries ensured racing was kept tight, the lead frequently switching throughout the race.
Ultimately, victory was well deserved for Blomqvist and the #60 team; the Kiwi’s pace in the opening and closing exchanges of the enduro unparalleled. Having led for 365 of the 783 laps, the only real drama of note came from a Castroneves spin as the race entered its mid-stages.
Dixon’s Cadillac was also involved in early drama, rear-ended after 6 hours as the Kiwi great avoided a wrecking LMP2 ahead. Despite evident damage, the team held on for a well-deserved podium.
Scott McLaughlin’s LMP2 Tower Motorsport outfit will be left rueing their chances after an electrical failure early in proceedings put them 11 laps back.
A leaky water bottle was the cause, and the team scrambled to find the cause and then repair the issue in the first hour.
The beauty of enduro racing is that even setbacks like this aren’t race-ending; McLaughlin, Kyffin Simpson, Josef Newgarden and John Farano driving at an incredible pace to make up the time on those ahead.
Cautions and traffic helped their cause, but the blistering pace also assisted in making up nine laps to only finish two behind their class leader, fifth in class in eleventh overall.
Jaxon Evans rounds out the New Zealand entries in the field, competing in a Porsche 911 GT3 R in the GTD class. The team, also featuring Kay van Berlo, Julien Andlauer and Alan Metni finished 16th in class and 43rd overall.