Action Express wins Daytona 24 Hours


This year’s Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona was dominated by a fleet of Corvette Daytona Prototypes and eventually they scored a 1-2-3-4 sweep. The winners were João Barbosa/Sébastien Bourdais/Christian Fittipaldi driving one of two Action Express Coyote-Chevrolet Corvette DPs. They led a good deal of the race and were in the control through the final hours.

A late full-course yellow allowed Wayne Taylor Racing’s Dallara-Chevy to close on the leader but despite trying hard over the final two-lap sprint to the flag Taylor’s lead driver Max Angelelli couldn’t catch Barbosa. Taylor came out of retirement to drive at Daytona with his sons Ricky and Jordan and Angelelli.

Third place was taken by Action Express’s second Coyote-Chevrolet driven by Burt Frisselle/Brad Frisselle/Fabien Giroix/John Martin so it was a very satisfying weekend for the team who won this race for the first time in 2010. Barbosa and Fittipaldi were also part of the winning team four years ago.

This year’s Corvette DP sweep was completed by the Spirit of Daytona Coyote-Chevrolet driven by Mike Rockenfeller/Richard Westbrook/Michael Valiante who finished two laps behind the first three. Last year’s ALMS champions Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr were joined by Alex Brundle in Greg Pickett’s Oreca-Nissan and finished fifth.

Chip Ganassi’s pair of Riley-Ford V6 turbos were among the leaders in the early laps but both cars ran into a variety of troubles. This was the team’s debut with the new turbo Ford engine but the time and effort needed to adapt to the latest Daytona Prototype rules prevented the team from doing the testing required with a new engine package. In the end, Ganassi’s cars finished the race a distant 15th and 43rd overall.

2014 Daytona 24 Hours top 10
1 João Barbosa/Sébastien Bourdais/Christian Fittipaldi (Corvette DP)
2 Max Angelelli/Jordan Taylor/Ricky Taylor/Wayne Taylor (Corvette DP)
3 Bryan Frisselle/Burt Frisselle/Fabien Giroix/John Martin (Corvette DP)
4 Mike Rockenfeller/Michael Valiante/Richard Westbrook (Corvette DP)
5 Alex Brundle/Klaus Graf/Lucas Luhr (Oreca-Nissan)
6 Richard Lietz/Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy (Porsche)
7 Bill Auberlen/Joey Hand/Maxime Martin/Andy Priaulx (BMW)
8 Olivier Pla/Roman Rusinov/Oliver Webb/Gustavo Yacaman (Morgan-Nissan)
9 Jon Bennett/Colin Braun/James Gue/Mark Wilkins (Oreca-Chevrolet)
10 Rob Huff/Tom Kimber-Smith/Michael Marshal/Enzo Potolicchio (Oreca-Chevrolet)

A controversial finish for the GTs

The GT Le Mans class saw a great battle to the finish between one of Porsche North America’s Porsche 911 RSRs driven by Richard Lietz/Patrick Pilet/Nick Tandy and one of Bobby Rahal’s pair of BMW Z4 GTEs driven by Bill Auberlen/Joey Hand/Maxime Martin/Andy Priaulx. The Porsche beat the BMW by just under three seconds as they finished an excellent sixth and seventh overall.

Winners of the Prototype Challenge class for Oreca FLM09-Chevrolets was the CORE Autosport entry driven by Jon Bennett/Colin Braun/James Gue/Mark Wilkins who finished ninth overall.

An exciting last lap battle between Markus Winkelhock’s Audi R8 and Alessandro Pier Guidi’s Ferrari 458 Italia for the GT Daytona class win was initially neutered by the officials. Driving aggressively but cleanly Guidi was able to squeeze past Winkelhock only to incur a controversial penalty for ‘avoidable’ contact. Winkelhock and Audi thus provisionally won the class, but IMSA reversed the decision post-race.

Gidley and Malucelli OK after crash

A nasty looking two-car crash involving Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli occurred just before sunset on Saturday. Malucelli’s Risi Ferrari 458 Italia suffered an engine or drivetrain failure in the infield section and with the setting sun blinding him Gidley’s Gainsco Corvette Daytona Prototype ploughed into the back of the Ferrari at unabated speed. Gidley’s car was badly damaged and many of us feared the worst as it took almost half an hour to remove him from the wreckage.

The race was stopped for more than an hour and both drivers were taken to the nearby Halifax Medical Centre. Gidley underwent surgery to repair multiple fractures of his left arm and leg and will undergo additional surgery in the next day or two for what’s described as an unstable fracture in his back. Malucelli escaped with a concussion and stayed in hospital overnight for evaluation.

In all, the first race of the new Tudor United SportsCar series was well received with a big field of cars and the largest gathering of spectators Daytona’s 24 hours race has seen in many years. Next month, for the first time in 16 years, the same field of drivers and cars will assemble at Sebring for the second round of the TUSC and that can only be a good thing for American sports car racing.

More from Gordon Kirby
The United SportsCar Series arrives
Parnelli’s record run in the Baja 1000
Chapman’s last Lotus Indycar

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