DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Wayne Taylor was noticeably emotional atop the pit box Sunday as Kamui Kobayashi guided his No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R across the start-finish line to win the overall Rolex 24 at Daytona International Speedway — the second straight for Wayne Taylor Racing and the fourth total for the team.
And the first without one of Taylor‘s sons in the driver rotation.
Kobayashi, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Renger van der Zande filled out the Cadillac‘s lineup with Ricky Taylor racing for class rival Acura Team Penske and Jordan Taylor making the move to the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class with Corvette Racing this season.
“I can‘t explain it,” Wayne Taylor exclaimed when asked what the win meant to him.
The team became the first to repeat as overall Rolex 24 winners since Chip Ganassi Racing won three straight Rolex 24s between 2006 and 2008. Dixon was part of the winning lineup for that 2006 victory, which was his first in the twice-around-the-clock.
“When they come into this little team of ours, they are just so focused, and so passionate about winning,” Taylor said. “And unfortunately, we are really bad losers. So, when we win like this… I have got to talk about Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, van der Zande. Kobayashi — I mean, the guy is a superstar.”
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Only van der Zande and Kobayashi returned from the race-winning effort the year before, which also included two-time Formula One World Champion Fernando Alonso and Jordan Taylor.
Kobayashi was as effusive as Taylor in his praise for the team.
“We worked together to build the car,” he said. “We focused in the race, we came back from the Roar, we found something good so we bring it back for race weekend. And once we rolled out, it was fast. This win is all about people helping each other, bringing the speed, bringing the car together. I think the team really felt like family.”
Following the midway point in the race, it appeared to be clear sailing for the reigning race winners as they led at the hour mark for the next six hours. But Briscoe‘s final turn in the car proved to be a true test for the team.
“That was a roller coaster,” he said.
After taking over for van der Zande in the 18th hour, Briscoe faced mechanical issues that caused a loss in power steering as he navigated the bus stop. He was able to pull to the apron, recycle the electronics and avoid pitting to stay in the lead.
But while pitting from the lead under caution at just over 18 and a half hours into the race, Briscoe missed the red light on pit road upon exiting his pit box, landing the team a stop plus 60 seconds penalty.
That put the No. 10 a lap down when Loic Duval in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi overtook Briscoe as he was leaving pit road after serving the penalty. Briscoe was relegated fourth place overall with a little more than five hours remaining in the race.
Briscoe said the proximity of the team‘s pit box to the red light on pit road contributed to the miscue.
“I actually left the pit box and we‘re right down at the end there, so the red light is over to the left as soon as I pull out of my pit box,” he said after finishing his final stint. “And when I pulled out, I was actually checking my mirrors to see where the competition was. It‘s my bad, I just didn‘t see it.
“Thankfully, we had a couple yellows fall our way, we were able to get back on the lead lap and just go to work.”
It was Briscoe who regained the lead from Mustang Sampling, with Joao Barbosa behind the wheel, just minutes after the clock turned to 20 hours completed. And other than a brief trading of the lead during final pit stops, the team never looked back as it drove to a dominating win.
Although the pole-sitting team of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez and Olivier Pla in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda DPi held the lead after the opening two hours of the race, they didn‘t lead at an hour mark after the eighth. And, ultimately, they couldn‘t break the streak of Rolex 24 wins by the Cadillacs since the start of the DPi era (2017) as they finished second.
Barbosa, Duval and Sebastian Bourdais were the other main challengers in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, finishing third in the race.
The race was a record-breaker. The previous lap record of 808 (set in 2018) was bettered by 25 laps for a total of 833 laps and 2,965.48 miles.
SAME TEAM, NEW LOOK FOR LMP2 WINNERS DRAGONSPEED USA
The saying “change is good” rang true for the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) winners of the Rolex 24 at Daytona as DragonSpeed USA won the season opener for the second consecutive season — but with a very different look from 2019.
A year ago, DragonSpeed held the prestigious watches aloft with the No. 18 driven by Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen. Two of the drivers from this year‘s winning team — Ben Hanley and Henrik Hedman — joined them on the podium but watched the celebration from a bit of a distance as they finished third in the race.
This time, it was their turn to shine.
The No. 81 ORECA LMP2 07 entry piloted by Hanley, Hedman, Colin Braun and Harrison Newey led the final 212 laps of the race to take the victory. It was the first IMSA victory of any kind for Hanley, Hedman and Newey and — alongside Chaz Mostert (GTLM) and Andrea Caldarelli (GTD) — helped IMSA reach the 1,000-driver mark regarding number of drivers who have recorded at least one win in the highest level of racing sanctioned by the governing body. Prior to the start of the Rolex 24, 997 different drivers had stood atop the podium in the top-tier series. The mark now stands at 1,002 drivers.
The battle was intense atop the LMP2 leaderboard for most of the race, and only two teams ever holding the lead — the race-winning DragonSpeed entry and the pole-sitting No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2 07 piloted by Ben Keating, Simon Trummer, Nick Boulle and Gabriel Aubry.
BMW OUTLASTS PORSCHE ONSLAUGHT FOR BACK-TO-BACK GTLM CLASS WINS
It took every hour of the Rolex 24 at Daytona to determine who would be declared the victor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class.
From the start, the strongest contenders appeared to be the two Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries — the car‘s official IMSA debut — versus the two BMW M8 GTEs for BMW Team RLL. However, Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione took turns in the top three as well.
In the final hours of the race, a blanket could have been thrown over the Porsches and the No. 24 BMW of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. Edwards handed the car over to Krohn in the lead with two hours remaining, but Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche was able to pass the BMW fairly quickly after the stop.
Krohn lost ground but valiantly fought back to get bumper to bumper with Tandy with less than an hour remaining. The Finn pulled his BMW on the outside of the Porsche down the front stretch heading into Turn 1 but was initially unable to complete the “over-under” pass.
However, if you don‘t succeed, try and try again.
Just a few minutes later, Krohn pulled the same move on the front stretch and, with momentum, swung from the outside to the inside of Tandy‘s Porsche heading towards the International Horseshoe. He stuck the BMW to complete the pass and didn‘t relinquish the lead for the remaining 45 minutes.
NO. 48 PAUL MILLER LAMBORGHINI TEAM CELEBRATES FIRST ROLEX WIN
After one of the most intensely competitive battles in the Rolex 24 at Daytona field, the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini edged the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini by a mere 21 seconds to earn the GT Daytona (GTD) Class victory in the classic endurance twice-around-the-clock race on Daytona‘s infield road course.
From green flag to checkered flag the two Lamborghinis fought each other for the storied race victory. After taking the lead for the last time during a pit stop only 50 minutes before the checkered flag flew, Italian Andrea Caldarelli held off the field and brought the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the checkered flag – best in class.
Americans Madison Snow, Corey Lewis and Bryan Sellers rounded out the driving lineup. It‘s the first win for all four drivers and for Miller, the long-time team owner and former IMSA driver. The victory was the third consecutive GTD Rolex 24 At Daytona victory for the Italian manufacturer.
Reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Kyle Busch closed out the race ninth in the GTD class and 26th overall with the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3. His teammates were Jack Hawksworth, Michael De Quesada and Parker Chase. This was Busch’s first Rolex 24.
Contributing: NASCAR.com staff