DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- Chip Ganassi Racing proved its endurance with the big win in the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona -- the sixth checkered flag for the renowned racing team's ownership.
Scott Dixon wheeled the No. 02 Riley-Ford DP to a 1.333-second win over the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Sebastien Bourdais, after a last-minute caution and miscalculation in switching drivers for the runner-up team sealed the win.
Dixon leads Jordan Taylor entering final hour
Scott Dixon took the lead with one hour remaining in 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona, with Jordan Taylor 1.261 seconds behind with time running out. Sebastien Bourdais was third, one lap down in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP.
The No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley with a team including five-time overall event winner Scott Pruett retired at 1 p.m. with clutch issues. The other classes also came down to two-car battles. Corvette Racing driver Antonio Garcia led BMW Team RLL’s Dirk Werner by 33.699 seconds,in GT Le Mans, Colin Braun was ahead of Johnny Mowlem by one lap in Prototype Challenge, and Dominik Farnbacher was ahead of Shane van Gisbergen by one lap in GT Daytona.
Pruett’s hopes dashed: Then there were three
Scott Pruett’s attempt to win an unprecedented sixth overall victory in the Rolex 24 were dashed with a long stop for Sage Karam in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley with two hours, 30 minutes remaining.
The team lost two laps while addressing clutch issues. To further hurt the team’s hopes, the team was penalized for having too many crewmen working on the car on pit road, dropping them three laps back with Joey Hand taking over for the drive to the finish, driving without first or second gears. The car went behind the wall at the 22-hour mark. That reduced the lead battle to three cars.
With two hours remaining, Max Angelelli led Scott Dixon by 5.995 seconds, with Sebastien Bourdais third, 14.510 seconds back. Dirk Werner took the GT Le Mans lead in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE, 6.188 seconds ahead of Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R.
Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 led Prototype Challenge by one lap, while Dominik Farnbacher in the No. 93 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT led Andrew Davis in the No. 22 WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America by 37.412 seconds in GT Daytona.
Five-hours left: Barbosa regains lead lap, leads four-car battle
Finally able to regain the lead lap after battling back throughout the night, Joao Barbosa took the lead with five hours remaining in the 53rd Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP led a four-car pack, followed closely by Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, Tony Kanaan in the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley and Scott Pruett in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley.
Mark Wilkins’ once-comfortable lead in Prototype Challenge was cut to one lap, as the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 led Mike Guasch in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Composites/Flex-Box ORECA. Corvette Racing ran 1-2 in GT Le Mans, with Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R leading Oliver Gavin in the No. 4, closely followed by Augusto Farfus in the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE.
Cameron Lawrence led three cars on the lead lap in GT Daytona, with the No. 93 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT leading Shane van Gisbergen in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America and the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Robert Graham/Royal Purple Ferrari 458 Italia. Madison Snow was fourth – three laps down – in the No. 58 Dempsey Wright Motorsports/Brumos Porsche/BNeautyrest Black Porsche 911 GT America co-driven by Patrick Dempsey.
Close Battles in Prototype, GTLM, GTD as dawn approaches
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was running 1-2 at the 16-hour mark in the 53rd Rolex 24.
With dawn approaching, Jamie McMurray in the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley led Joey Hand in the team’s No. 01 entry, closely followed by Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta GTP.
Fourth, one lap down, was Sebastien Bourdais in the defending winning No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, one laps down, followed by Ozz Negri in the No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda DPD/Ligier.
While Michael Gue held a five-lap lead as the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 seeks its second consecutive Prototype Challenge victory, both GT classes were very close. Dirk Werner, driving the No. 25 IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTE, led Wolf Henzler in the No. 17 Team Falken Tire Porsche 911 RSR and Corvette Racing teammates Antonio Garcia (No. 3) and Simon Pagenaud (No. 4).
All four GT Le Mans leaders were on the same lap. GT Daytona was even closer, with six cars on the lead lap led by Sebastiaan Bleekemolen in the No. 33 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT. Andrea Bertolini was second in the No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia, followed by Dion von Moltke in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Castrol EDGE Audi R8 LMS, Jeff Segal in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Robert Graham/Royal Purple Ferrari 458 Italia, Andrew Davis in the No. 22 Alex Job Racing WeatherTech Porsche 911 GT America, and Al Carter in the No. 93 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT.
Porsche teammates fall from contention after early-morning incident
The Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs got together in the early morning hours while running 1-2, dropping both cars from contention.
Marc Lieb was running second in the defending Rolex 24 class-winning No. 911, closely followed by Earl Bamber in the No. 912 as the car negotiated Turn 1. Lieb was lapping a GTD car when both cars bobbled while running side by side. Bamber, with nowhere to go, went into the grass, where he had a long backwards slide, picking up speed in the process.
While Lieb was negotiating the International Horseshoe Bamber slid into his teammate, badly damaging both cars. The No. 912 was repaired on pit road, losing more than 20 laps, while the No. 911 was taken by flatbed to the garage, where it required major surgery and lost 90 laps before it was able to continue.
Another GTLM frontrunner to fall by the wayside was the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Itala, when class leader Pierre Kaffer took the car to the garage, where it was retired at the 11-hour mark with an electrical engine misfire problem. Co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Olivier Beretta also took turns leading the class.
Kanaan Takes No. 02 Target Ford to garage for repairs in 7th hour
The first of the leaders to experience problems came when Tony Kanaan took the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley to the garage near the six-hour, 30-minute mark.
The Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates team was working to replace a damaged splitter. Quick work by the team under the caution allowed Kanaan to continue while only losing one lap for the repairs. Kanaan noticed that the car was damaged when he began his stint, causing the loss of downforce. It got progressively worse and finally broke, and the team took advantage of the caution to make the repair.
The fifth caution waved at 6:22 p.m. when Tor Graves spun off and came to a stop at the exit of Turn 1 in the No. 7 Starworks Motorsport BMW Dinan/Riley. The No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda Prototype retired with oil pump failure during the caution, shortly after James Hinchcliff got behind the wheel during the caution.
The sixth caution waved on lap 220 at 9:19 p.m., when Frances Perrodo spun in Turn 6 in the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari F458 Italia and was hit by the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin Vantage.
Chip Ganassi teams running 1-2 after six hours
The six-hour mark takes on added significance in the Rolex 24, with the awarding of points for the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. Leaders in each of the four classes get five points, with four points for second, three for third and two for all other competitors.
The Patrón Endurance Cup is comprised of the four endurance races on the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship, and continues with the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda.
Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was running 1-2 at the end of six hours, with the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley of Joey Hand earning five points and the No. 02 Target-sponsored Ford of Tony Kanaan getting four points. The pole-winning No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda/Ligier of AJ Allmendinger was running third to score three points.
In Prototype Challenge, Mark Wilkins got the defending winning CORE autosport No. 54 Flex-Box ORECA FLM09 off to an early advantage.
Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R. of Jan Magnussen scored the five points in GT Le Mans, while the leader in GT Daytona was the No. 93 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT of Kuno Wittmer.
One top contender for the overall victory fell by the wayside, with the No. 57 Krohn Racing Judd-powered Ligier JS P2 driven by Alex Brundle, Olivier Pla, Tracy W. Krohn and Nic Jonsson retiring with engine problems.
The fourth full-course caution was for the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Andy Lally, which came to a stop on the apron.
Karam puts Ganassi No. 01 in lead after four hours
While the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley dominated the opening three hours of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, 18-year-old Sage Karam put Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates’ No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley into the lead at the four-hour mark.
Jordan Taylor ran second in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, followed by Jamie McMurray in Ganassi’s No. 02, defending winner Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 and the pole-winning No. 60 Tire Kingdom Honda/Ligier JS P2, with John Pew at the wheel.
Other class leaders were James Gue, looking for a second-straight victory in the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09; Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R in GTLM; and Anthony Lazzaro in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia in GTD. “Things are looking pretty good,” said TOTAL Pole Award winner Ozz Negri after his stint.
“We had a little issue with our fuel flow – that cost us some extra time on our pit stops. We have a good pace. Our priorities are taking care of the car and making sure everything stays where it is.”
Ricky Taylor reported losing traction control during the opening hour, but the problem was rectified on his first pit stop.
Dreaded attrition brgins to take toll in third hour
The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda HPD called it quits due to mechanical issues, relegating Johannes van Overbeek, Ed Brown and Jon Fogarty to the sidelines. The team brought a pair of the latest Honda Prototypes to Daytona; Scott Sharp is running in the top 10 in the No. 1 HPD ARX-04Bb.
Moments later, the No. 0 Claro/TracFone DeltaWing DWC13 turned off its transponder due to terminal gearbox issues. Andy Meyrick was solidly in the top five early in his stint, with Katherine Legge, Gabby Chaves and Memo Rojas joining him in taking an early exit from the event.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” admitted Scott Pruett, who had been running second throughout most of a triple stint in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley.
Richard Westbrook led the Rolex 24 At Daytona at the two-hour mark, driving the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP. Westbrook took the lead on a pit stop by Scott Dixon, who has led most of the race so far in the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley.
The second caution waved during the hour for the stopped No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS of Satoshi Hoshino. Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates was running 1-2 at the end of the opening hour of the Rolex 24.
Dixon Leads after first hour
In Ford EcoBoost ,Dixon took the lead on the opening lap in the No. 02 Target Ford EcoBoost/Riley, while Scott Pruett – looking for an unprecedented sixth overall victory in the event – was second in the team’s No. 01 entry. Third was defending Rolex 24 winner Joao Barbosa in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP.
While the opening hour does not award any points, competitors in each class will be rewarded at the end of the sixth hour with points counting towards the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.The opening full-course caution began shortly before the end of the opening hour, to retrieve the disabled No, 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS of Satushi Hoshino.
Factory Porsche first to experience problems: Trouble struck the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR on the opening lap of the race, when Jörg Bergmeister was forced to pit with alternator problems. The three-time Rolex 24 class winner (including an overall triumph for TRG in 2003) turned the car over to Frederic Makowiecki, who rejoined the race seven laps down.
Did You Know?