Over the weekend, the IMSA WeatherTech SportCars Championship launched its 2016 season at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona with 54 entries over 4 classes. The weekend was full of surprises along with a few fan favorites landing in some peculiar situations. One thing is for sure, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is finally here and the surprises are going to keep coming.
It Takes “Extreme Speed” to Get to Victory
Extreme Speed Motorsports Honda’s green and black car is not one we’re going to forget. When they first appeared in the qualifier with their menacing bright green and black Honda, fans knew it was about to go down, and ESM Honda did not disappoint.
Brazilian Luis Felipe Derani was driving the Honda Ligier at the finish of the grueling 24-hour race, having rescued his team from a late-race pit-road penalty that cost it the lead.
Honda scored its first overall win at Daytona by outrunning Corvette and Ford teams that had been the focus of much attention leading into the International Motor Sports Association WeatherTech SportsCar Series opener.
For many fans, the underdog story was a great way to celebrate the beginning of the 2016 season. It also goes to show that you can never believe everything you read as the REAL tests are always on the track.
A “Star” Loses Its Shine
The race’s defending champion — the so-called "Star Car" of IndyCar aces Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan and NASCAR’s Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson — finished 13th after serious brake problems hit the Ford Riley in the ninth hour.
"It’s 24 hours, and you have to have a flawless race to be able to win," Kanaan said. "We had that last year, but this year we had a little bit of a hiccup."
The car returned to the track after repairs 10 laps down and ran lap times with the leaders, but the team hit another rough patch — literally — less than three hours from the finish when Larson, who said the brake issues continued, crashed into a tire barrier on the infield road course.
26 Seconds from Victory
Only 26 seconds separated Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette from the Extreme Speed Motorsport Honda. Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and Rubens Barrichello.
Angelelli crossed the finish line for Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette and immediately following the race, was transported to a local hospital for a check-up. There were reports of fumes coming into the car near the race’s end. IMSA officials said he was conscious and stable two hours after the race.
Jordan Taylor said the second-place team couldn’t compete with the Honda Ligier. “If we had track position, we could kind of hold off the 2 car, but with certain drivers they could get around us pretty easily.” Taylor said. “It was a flawless race. We were proud of what we did. I don’t think we could have done much more.”
It’s a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Oliver Gavin scored a wild victory in the GT Le Mans division, edging fellow Corvette driver Antonio Garcia by a few feet after a tight battle over the final hour of the race. Chevrolet officials had given the drivers the go-ahead to race for the win without worrying about a possible crash that might have eliminated both. The Gavin team was seventh overall.
The Audi team of Rene Rast, Andy Lally, Marco Seefried and John Potter won the GT Daytona division. Kenton Koch, Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg drove an Oreca Chevrolet to a win in the Prototype Challenge division, finishing 18th overall.
The event’s most adventurous drive was executed by Porsche racer Patrick Lindsey. His car developed axle problems Sunday morning. Trying to get off the track to avoid causing a caution, he drove through an open gate and accidentally wound up on the main spectator road through the heart of the track infield. His return to the garage area was delayed by numerous passenger vehicles.
Catch the Lone Star Le Mans in Austin, Texas
The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to the “Live Music Capital of the World” in September for the action-packed 6 Hours of Lone Star Le Mans.
Enhance your experience with Official Ticket Packages that offer the only VIP experience for the WeatherTech Championship. Get full access to the Paddock Building, along with access to the exclusive on-site party featuring meet & greets with racing legends, full gourmet spread during breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as premium open bar.
Official Ticket Packages have not been released for Lone Star Le Mans but you can be one of the first people to hear about it by signing up for our wait list.