Porsche didn't do so well.
The Japanese manufacturers humbled Porsche in a big way as Acura claimed the first victory in the new electrified IMSA GTP sports car racing era at the Rolex 24 at Daytona. This is Acura's third consecutive win and the second in a row with Meyer Shank Racing.
The Acura ARX-06, piloted by Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaud, started in pole position, and that's pretty much where it remained for the race. Team 60 finished on 783 laps with a total time of 24:01:19.952. The second Acura ARX-06, entered by Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport (Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz, Brendon Hartley, and Ricky Taylor), suffered minor delays earlier in the race.
Still, caution flags allowed them to catch up and finish on 783 laps. Their total time was 24:01:24.142, placing them second.
Cue loads of order flooding in for the Honda Civic Type R-based Acura Integra Type S.
The Cadillac V-LMDh flew the American flag high, claiming third, fourth, and fifth. The two Cadillac Racing factory entries finished on 783 laps, while the Whelen Engineering Racing Team finished on 771.
BMW's M Hybrid V8 finished in sixth with 768 laps, ending the GTP reign at the top, as positions 7 to 13 were claimed by traditional LMP2 vehicles.
"Winning [the Rolex 24 at Daytona] is unbelievable, to be honest," said David Salters, President of Honda Performance Development. "This program involves a lot of people, all of whom work really, really, really hard to do this. So the real privilege is to work with those people and achieve days like today. And it doesn't happen all the time. So when it does pay off, it's all the more special. In the two years [it took to design, build and develop the Acura ARX-06], I think it's the best thing I've been involved in."
Porsche's 963 debut was disappointing. Both cars suffered technical defects, and according to the IMSA timing results, the Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 driven by Campbell, Nasr, and Christensen finished in 14th on 749 laps. Car Number 6 finished on 700 laps (42nd place) but failed to complete the 24 hours.
"Firstly, congratulations to Acura on winning the maiden race in the new GTP era," declared Urs Kuratle, Director of Factory Motorsport LMDh for Porsche. "We were hoping for more, mainly because we managed to set a fantastic pace at times. I'd like to thank Multimatic and all other partners. It's been a long road for us all, and we've finally arrived at the start of the GTP class."
"We're disappointed, no question about it," said Thomas Laudenbach, Vice President of Porsche Motorsport. "After just over five hours, the No. 7 car was thrown out of contention for victory due to an issue with the high-voltage system. Later, our No. 6 suffered damage to the powertrain. We experienced several problems, but at the same time, we were able to learn a great deal. The good thing is we know where we now stand and what we need to work on. We'll now prepare systematically for the next race at Sebring in March."
It's an exciting start to the FIA World Endurance Season, which runs alongside the IMSA GTP championship. These cars will all enter the 100th edition of Le Mans in June as LMDh vehicles, and Acura is off to a flying start, with Cadillac not that far behind. Porsche obviously still needs to iron out some kinks, but knowing the Germans, they'll be ready for the pinnacle of endurance racing in France come June. Bring on Le Mans!
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