24 Hours of Daytona 2023: Acura in force
Acura LMDH is on top of its fall
9 LMDH prototypes were included along with Acura, Cadillac, BMW and Porsche. It is clear that the experienced and accustomed manufacturers of IMSA Dpi, Acura and Cadillac kept their hands.
While the Acuras were undoubtedly the fastest, the Cadillac was in contention for the win, but the V-LMDh n°31 lost almost twenty laps, falling victim to a broken rear left suspension after hitting the GT. The BMW maintained its pace but suffered braking and hybrid problems. Big disappointment for Porsche too, nevertheless filled the bitumen sparingly with 963 LMH in the off-season, but the manufacturer did not succumb to anxiety. Shortly after 5:00 a.m., Nick Tandy lost control of the n°6, still in contention for the top five, and dropped three laps. FCY (Full Course Yellow) and generous IMSA rules (allowing latecomers to return to the leader’s lap) allowed the Porsche to re-enter the lead lap, but at the end of the morning, at 11:00 an empty gearbox, and the only regrettable rejection in this GTP category .
In the final sprint of the last half hour, 4 cars were on the same lap and fighting for the win: Chip Ganassi Racing’s two Acuras and two Cadillacs. But the ARX-06 is very powerful, especially thanks to the glowing Tom Blomqvist. The former BMW DTM and Formula E driver was imperial. After taking pole position, he achieved most of the fastest laps in the race. Nothing could stop the No. 60 Acura, even gearbox problems from lap 200 forced unscheduled stops where mechanics had to remove the rear block and re-inject the oil.
The Meyer Shank Racing Acura leads the other Acura under the checkerboard by 4”1. Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves pocket their second consecutive victory in the Floridian doubles clock. It’s even the third in a row for the Brazilian, who won in 2021 with Wayne Taylor Racing.
Cadillac fields two Chip Ganassi Racing V-LMDHs in 3rd and 4th. 9”6 and 11”1 respectively, the advantage going to Bourdeis-Van der Zande-Dixon n°01, with the BMW offering a fifth of the lead with 15 laps to go. Therefore, Acura and Meyer Shank Racing will go down in history as the first winners of this new GTP era.
A photo finish in LMP2 was awarded in Aston and Mercedes GT
In LMP2, the race was clearly very open with many contenders for the win. As always, everything was decided only in the last hour, but there the victory was decided on home ground!
James Allen and Ben Hanley broke away in the final hectometres and eventually it was the driver of the first, No. 55 Proton Racing, who, cleverly sucking, He won by 0.016 seconds only against his opponent from Crowtrike APR. Not far behind is AF Corse, led by a high-flying quartet of Niklas Nielsen, François Perrodo, Mathieu Vaxiviers and Julien Canal, in 3rd place.
In GT, the victory for the Vantage GT3/The Heart of Racing of Marco Sorensen, Ian James, Darren Turner and Roman De Angelis is notable, especially as it entered the GTD class and therefore finished ahead of the Mercedes-AMG GT3. Jules Gounon, Maro Engel, Daniel Juncadella and Cooper MacNeil’s WeatherTech Racing won the GTD Pro class a priori fastest. Despite this, Mercedes dominated the GTDPro class, setting a best lap 1 second faster than the competition, raising questions about the famous “balance of performance”.
For its competition debut, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 EVO2 finished 4th in GTD Pro with Mirco Bortolotti, Andrea Caldarelli, Jordan Pepper and Romain Grosjean making their debut for the Italian firm. The only Ferrari 296 GT3 entered in GTD PRO, the Risi Competizione model did not see the light of day (after retirement) and is only 10th best in GTD. A low-key debut for a new breakthrough horse weaponthis year it takes over from the 488 GT3, which has a long track record.
Full results here