Endurance racing fans will have already carved the 2014 Le Mans dates into their diaries, but to keep them tied over till June 14, over the weekend some Americans kindly put on their own 24-hour race. Welcome to the Daytona…
This season opener was the first race in the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship, formed from the merger of the legendary Grand-Am races and the American Le Mans Series. This means the field combines Daytona Prototypes (the fastest), Daytona GT-spec cars from Grand-Am, Le Mans Prototype 2 cars (the slightly weedier prototypes you see at La Sarthe), and Le Mans GT-spec cars. There are corners and everything.
Early stages of the race were dominated by a horrific crash between Memo Gidley’s DP car and Matteo Malucelli’s GT Le Mans Ferrari. Both drivers were rushed to hospital, where Gidley received surgery on his left arm and leg, and requires another operation for a fracture on his back. Malucelli escaped the incident without major injuries.
As you’d imagine, Daytona Prototypes claimed the first four overall places, the overall victory taken by the #5 Action Express Coyote-Chevrolet Corvette DP, followed by the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Dallara-Chevrolet Corvette DP and #9 Action Express Chevrolet Corvette DP, 20 seconds later. That’s close racing in endurance.
The Prototype Challenge class win went to #54 CORE Autosport, Porsche won the GTLM class in a 911 RSR, just 2.8 seconds ahead of the works BMW RLL team in the #55 BMW Z4 GTE while the #91 Viper took third.
Controversy followed the GTD class as final results weren’t decided till an hour after the race. On the final lap the Level 5 Motorsports #555 Ferrari 458 was battling with the #45 Audi R8 LMS. The Ferrari, driven by Alessadro Pier Guidi moved towards the Audi, driven by Markus Winkelhock, who dove into the grass to avoid a collision.
Pier Guidi crossed the line first, but the race director issued him a 75-second penalty for avoidable contact, sending him down to fourth. Shortly afterwards, the IMSA reversed the decision, Pier Guidi’s first place was reinstated and Winkelhock was… a bit miffed.
Now click on for our exclusive gallery, endurance fans. Roll on June 14…
Pictures: Deremer Studios