Rolex 24, Hour 24: After 55 years, Penske triumphs at Daytona again

The first caution in four hours set up a 30m sprint to the finish of the 62nd Rolex 24 at Daytona, rapidly changing the fortunes of several competitors.

Vasser Sullivan Racing’s hopes for a GTD victory went up in flames, literally, in the final hour. Leaving the pits, Parker Thompson pulled the No. 12 Lexus RC F over with flames spitting out of the engine compartment. Team principal Jimmy Vasser expected the cause was a plenum fire.


The ensuing caution, though, erased big leads in LMP2 and GTD, and set up a four-way battle to the finish in GTP. Tom Blomqvist had held the lead in the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac V-Series.R, but Felipe Nasr in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 beat him out of the pits as both took short fills. The top four GTP competitors were nose to tail for the restart, Louis Deletraz holding third in the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06.


Blomqvist did all he could, including setting the fastest lap of race at 1m35.554s with 23m left, but he couldn’t make a move on Nasr while the Porsche got better breaks in traffic. When the checker fell right after 1:40 p.m. with 1m35s left on the race clock, Nasr took the victory for he, Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell and Josef Newgarden. It was the first Rolex 24 at Daytona victory for each driver, and the first for Penske since 1969 when he won the race with a Lola T70.

Blomqvist took the Cadillac across the line to score second for Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken. Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta and Jenson Button finished third in the No. 40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06.

Christian Rasmussen held his lead in the No. 18 Era Motorsports ORECA O7 Gibson to take victory for he, Dwight Merriman, Ryan Dalziel and Connor Zilisch. The No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA of George Kurtz, Colin Braun, Malthe Jakobsen and Toby Sowery, ahead of Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Josh Burdon and Felipe Massa in the No, 74 Riley Motorsports ORECA.

Daniel Serra had a lap on second place Laurin Heinrich in the No. 77 AO Racing Porsche that was erased with the caution, but the Porsche had nothing for Serra’s No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrrari 296 GT3. Serra held on for Risi’s first victory in its Ferrari era, and second victory after an SRP2 win in 2002. Serra, Davide Rigon, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado’s win was also the second 24-hour race victory for the 296 GT3, the first coming in the 2023 24 Hours of the Nürburgring with Frikadelli Racing.

Polesitters AO Racing with Seb Priaulx, Laurin Heinrich and Michael Christensen ended up second. The No. 1 Paul Miller Racing, which had looked to have a chance at victory going into the final hours, fell victim to a brake problem and the team scored a third-place finish for Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Neil Verhagen and Sheldon van der Linde.

Winward Racing took its second Rolex 24 victory in four years after Daniel Morad held off a pair of charging Ferraris. The No. 57 Mercedes AMG was third overall for a 2.731s margin of victory for Morad, Russell Ward, Philip Ellis and Indy Dontje. It was Ferrari 296 GT3 in second and third, Miguel Molina, Simon Mann, Francois Heriau and Alessio Rovera taking second for AF Corse and Conquest Racing’s Manny Franco, Alberto Costa Balboa, Alessandro Balzan and Cedric Sbirrazzuoli taking third.

Full reports to follow.


Story originally appeared on Racer