Porsche has returned to the top of the 24 Hours of Daytona podium for the first time in 14 years, with the #7 Porsche Penshe 963 of Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell, Josef Newgarden and Felipe Nasr holding a late challenge from Whelen Cadillac Racing’s V-Series.R for a thrilling win.
After 24 Hours of running, the ten-strong GTP field ultimately came down to a two-car showdown for the win, with Tom Blomqvist taking the lead for Whelan Cadillac Racing with 70 minutes to run and pulling a small gap over the Porsche.
With lapped traffic between the pair, including the second Porsche Penske entry, the New Zealand-raised driver could not break away further, and a Safety Car with 30 minutes to run brought the field back together and made for a final sprint to the line.
Nasr jumped to the front in pit lane, requiring less fuel, and got a good restart at the final green. Blomqvist kept pace with the leader, and after 23 hours and 55 minutes of racing, the two leaders were split by less than one second.
Nasr kept his nerve to deliver the victory for Porsche, pulling away slightly in traffic on the final laps, returning the Penske name to the top of the 24 at Daytona podium for the first time since 1969.
Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti completed the podium in the #40 Acura ARX-06, holding off Porsche Penske’s #6 in a thrilling last-lap battle.
The #6 had been in contention for much of the race but faced several penalties for technical infringements, while a late off for Kevin Estre put them further on the back foot.
Louis Deletraz, partnering Jordan Taylor, Colton Herta and Jenson Button in the #40, came into contact with the Porsche following the final restart, but the pair escaped damage to race until the chequered flag.
The gap between the pair at the race end was just 0.398 seconds.
Proton Competition’s 963 finished fifth as the last car on the lead lap, while JDC/Miller Motorsport were two laps behind in their own 963, making for four Porsche in the top six.
Both BMW M Hybrids had been in contention for a podium place through the early stages but dropped off the pace, suffering from technical gremlins in the 14th and 15th hours.
Scott Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, shared with Renger van der Zande, Alex Palou and Sebastien Bourdais, had shown great pace all weekend, starting from the front row and topping several practice sessions in the leadup to the race.
An unfortunate powertrain issue in the fifteenth hour ended their hopes, with van der Zande forced to park up and the team retiring the car.
Brendon Hartley’s Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti #10 Acura ARX-06 suffered a similar fate, with electrical issues putting an end to their Daytona challenge.
In LMP2, five cars remained in contention over the closing stages, including Scott McLaughlin’s Tower Motorsports.
Era Motorsport claimed the win from Crowdstrike by APR and Riley Motorsport, while McLaughlin fell just short of fourth in a late battle with Inter Europol by PR1 Motorsport and was forced to settle for fifth in class and 13th overall.
Hunter McElrea’s TDS Racing was the race’s first retirement, with Steven Thomas losing the rear of the car at the exit of the bus stop chicane and hitting the outside wall head-on at pace. Thomas walked away from the wreck and, after an evaluation, was released from the medical centre.
Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsport, of whom Earl Bamber was competing in the #4 Z06 GT3.R, led a total of 118 of 773 laps across their two entries.
A power steering pump issue in the final six hours dropped Bamber’s team from contention, and they finished eighth of the GTD Pro contingent, in 37th overall.
Header Image: Penske Entertainment