A puncture with seven minutes left on the clock denied Scott Dixon a fifth Rolex Daytona 24 Hour win, with Filipe Albuquerque claiming Wayne Taylor Racing’s third straight victory in a hotly fought DPi battle.
Just six seconds covered the top-three cars, with several positional swaps and differing fuel strategies making for an intense final hour.
After a mega last stint by Dixon, which had him keep Chip Ganassi’s winning hopes alive after a drive-through penalty, the Kiwi handed control of the wheel to Renger van der Zande for the run home.
Embroiled in a five-car DPi fight for the lead, van der Zande vaulted to the front after undercutting the field during the penultimate round of pit stops.
Closely pursued by Kamui Kobayashi, van der Zande headed the field until the final half-an-hour when Albuquerque was able to leapfrog to the lead with a rapid final pitstop.
Van der Zande would close in on Albuquerque, eventually getting alongside in the final 15 minutes.
Unable to make the move stick, van der Zande bided his time, waiting for the final few laps before having another assault for the lead.
However, his race was soon over. The No.1 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac limped back to the pitlane with a deflated right-rear tyre, much to the devastation of team owner Chip Ganassi and co-drivers Dixon and Kevin Magnussen.
The trio would eventually be classified fifth.
Kobayashi was elevated to second, with Harry Ticknell coming home third for Mazda – a hearty effort considering the team were three laps down at the halfway stage following a gear selection issue while on the grid.
Earl Bamber had a muted race for Team Hardpoint EBM in GT Daytona, coming home a commendable 32nd overall and tenth in class.