Earl Bamber has narrowly missed out on victory in GTLM at the WeatherTech Daytona 240 in a wet/dry race as IMSA finally made its first return to action in nearly five months.
It was Corvette’s Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor survived a wet start and some late-race pressure by the charging Kiwi to cross the line 1.977s ahead of his rival in the maiden victory for the squad’s new C8.R model.
It was Nick Tandy in the sister Porsche 911 RSR who made a lightning start by opting to take the green flag on wet tyres, pulling out a 20-second margin in five laps before pitting for a change to slicks.
It put Tandy on the backfoot as Bamber’s co-driver Lauren’s Vathoor duelled for the lead with Bruno Spengler in the BMW.
As the Daytona roval circuit began to dry, the Corvette Racing duo of Taylor and Oliver Gavin found a stride in their step to chase down Vanthoor and new race leader Spengler.
It would take another 40-minutes for any real action to occur as Vanthoor reclaimed third from Taylor just as race leader Spengler came in for his first pitstop. Gavin and Vanthoor would respond a lap later, both making driver changes in the process.
Tandy had brief moments back in the lead courtesy of his early pitstop but often had his fuel and tyre stints compromised.
A sluggish final stop by the BMW crew allowed the Corvette Racing machine of Garcia to take the lead, leapfrogging himself ahead of Bamber as the Kiwi chased hard just two-seconds adrift.
But despite the Kiwi’s pursuit, a composed Garcia kept the deficit stable before snaring the fastest lap of the race at the death to cruise home and claiming Corvette’s 100th race victory in the US Sports Car Racing scene.
Overall victory was clinched in dominant style by the Mazda RT24-s of Harry Tincknell and Jonathon Bomarito who led home a 1-2 finish for the Japanese manufacturer.