The Latest: Action Express and Ganassi big winners at Rolex
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest at the Rolex 24 at Daytona
2:40 p.m. (all times local)
Action Express Racing has won its third Rolex 24 at Daytona title with an overall victory in the prestigious sports car race.
The win went to Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Filipe Albuquerque.
Chip Ganassi Racing is celebrating the organization’s 200th victory after its Ford GT’s finished first and second in the GT Le Mans class Sunday. The entry of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon earned the class victory.
Many teams had mechanical problems and reliability issues throughout the twice-round-the-clock endurance race. But it was a relatively clean event and that permitted new race records in laps completed and overall distance covered.
The 808 laps beat the record of 762 laps set in 1992. It also bettered the race record of 2,760.960 miles set in 1982.
Fernando Alonso has finished his driving time in his first Rolex 24 at Daytona.
His United Autosports team had reliability issues and the two-time Formula One world champion was not in contention for the victory. But he wanted the experience in a sports car endurance race and said his time at Daytona left him with “a positive outcome because I really did enjoy it a lot.”
Alonso said he loved driving about eight hours in the twice-round-the-clock event.
It remains to be seen if Alonso will add the 24 Hours of Le Mans to his 2018 schedule. This race was a test for him to see if he’s ready for the most prestigious sports car event in the world.
Said Alonso: “Very nice event, very nice driving this car. If and when I race Le Mans, it will be the second time (in a sports car) and I will be much more prepared.”
He also said he’d like to return to the Rolex.
Joao Barbosa led the Rolex 24 at Daytona with four hours remaining in the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway.
Barbosa is driving a Cadillac for Action Express Racing and the prototype is the only car on the lead lap. Felipe Nasr in the second Action Express Car was the closest competition but down three laps to his teammate.
The race in the GT Le Mans class tightened up when one of the Corvette entries was able to get back on the lead lap. That class is still being dominated by both Chip Ganassi Racing entries. Sebastien Bourdais is leading the class in a Ford GT and teammate Scott Dixon is second.
Cautions have been rare in this race and most team troubles have been through attrition.
Both of Roger Penske’s entries had issues overnight and are out of contention for the race win. But the team owner was still on top of the Team Penske timing stand and fulfilling his promise to watch all 24 hours of the race.
Attrition took its toll overnight at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and there is only one car on the lead lap.
Christian Fittipaldi in a Cadillac for Action Express Racing led the race when daylight broke at Daytona International Speedway.
Defending race champion Wayne Taylor Racing retired to the garage after yet another blown tire caused significant damage to the Cadillac. The team blew a myriad of tires throughout the race.
Helio Castroneves made contact with another car and it put the Team Penske entry 22 laps off the pace. The second Team Penske Acura is down 24 laps.
The car driven by two-time Formula One world champion is down 26 laps because a brake master cylinder failed about 11 hours into the race.
The GT Le Mans class is still being dominated by the two Ford’s from Chip Ganassi Racing. Only Richard Westbrook and Joey Hand are on the lead lap in that class, and Chip Ganassi has a shot at an eighth Rolex victory between the two cars.
Roger Penske’s two new Acura’s are leading the Rolex 24 at Daytona in the team’s return to full-time sports car competition.
Ricky Taylor had the No. 7 Acura out front 10 hours into the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. Simon Pagenaud was in second behind his teammate in the No. 6 Acura, and there were just three cars on the lead lap.
Penske has vowed to watch the entire 24-hour race from the pit stand.
Taylor was part of last year’s winning team with Wayne Taylor Racing. Driving for his father with his brother as his teammate, the organization won the Rolex and the IMSA championship.
Ricky Taylor then signed with Penske for the new sports car operation, and his debut Saturday was nearly spoiled by the flu. He recovered in time to take his place in the driver rotation as Taylor attempts to win the race for a second consecutive year.
IMSA has penalized the Audi of Montaplast by Land Motorsports for an alleged violation of balance of performance. The car had a one lap lead over the competition in the GT Daytona class.
The rule implies that the car has exceeded the baseline performance that IMSA expected from the entry prior to the race. The Audi was brought to pit road and held for five minutes.
Meanwhile, only three cars were on the lead lap nearly 10 hours into the race.
Joao Barbosa was leading the race in a Cadillac for Action Express Racing, and the two Team Penske entries were running second and third in Acuras.
All other cars were at least one lap down from the leaders.
Scott Pruett’s final Rolex 24 at Daytona isn’t going the way he had hoped.
The 3GT Racing team was 11th in the GT Daytona class when Pruett finished his first stint in the Lexus on Saturday night at Daytona International Speedway. Pruett has a record-tying five titles in the sports car race at Daytona International Speedway.
He drove a triple stint to start his race, and was due to get back in the car around 5 a.m. If the team is still running at the end of the race, Pruett said he’d like to close his 50-year career behind the wheel.
He’s retiring after this race as the winningest driver in American sports car competition with a record 60 victories. His five Rolex 24 wins are tied for most with Hurley Haywood, and Pruett also won five titles when the series ran as Grand-AM and two championships under IMSA.
Pruett turns 58 in March. He will continue to work with Lexus, the manufacturer he teamed with to help develop and promote the Lexus IS F performance sedan and Lexus LFA supercar in 2008.
Continental Tire says the failures in the Rolex 24 at Daytona have been caused by teams who “are pushing the envelope with low pressure and aggressive camber.”
The tire company has seen at least high-profile tire issues through the first nine hours of the twice-round-the-clock endurance race. Defending race-winning team Wayne Taylor Racing had two punctured tires, while United Autosports had one problem on the entry prepared for Fernando Alonso.
Both cars were damaged trying after the tire problems.
Continental Tire representatives say the teams that have had issues are not working within manufacturer parameters. Continental also noted the tires are the same ones that have been used for the past five years without issue.
Wayne Taylor Racing headed to the garage just short of the nine-hour mark at the Rolex 24 at Daytona because of damage to the race car from a tire puncture.
Renger van der Zande was behind the wheel when the tire exploded on the Cadillac. The car was damaged as van der Zande tried to get it to pit road.
It was the second tire puncture for the Wayne Taylor team, and Jordan Taylor had to save the car earlier in the race when it failed. The second issue caused too much damage to repair on pit road.
Wayne Taylor Racing is the defending winner of the Rolex. The team won the first five races of last season and the IMSA championship. Ricky Taylor left the team at the end of the year to join Roger Penske’s new sports car effort, and van der Zande was named his replacement.
The Dutch driver won the pole to give Wayne Taylor Racing high hopes of repeating. The car was running third before it headed to the garage.
Fernando Alonso’s team fell three laps off the pace after a tire problem caused extensive damage to the car during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Phil Hanson was driving the Ligier LMP2 as he closed in on the eight-hour mark of the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. A tire suddenly exploded on the United Autosports entry, and Hanson had to limp the Ligier to pit road for repairs.
As the team worked to fix the damage and remove the shredded tire, Alonso replaced Hanson behind the wheel.
The team was three laps behind leader Filipe Albuquerque of Action Express Racing when Alonso pulled off pit road. The team was 11th overall
The two Ford entries from Chip Ganassi Racing have taken control of the GT Le Mans class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Ganassi is seeking an eighth Rolex victory this year and was the grand marshal for the race that began Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. His two cars had put the rest of the GTLM class at least one lap off the pace seven hours into the endurance race.
Sebastien Bourdais was out front in the No. 66 Ford GT he is co-driving with Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. The car won its class last year for Ganassi’s seventh victory. The team owner has six overall wins from when he entered cars in the prototype division.
The entry shared by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon was running second in class behind its sister car. The Ganassi organization is seeking its 200th victory in major auto racing.
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