A Well Deserved Win For Pfaff Motorsports And Let’s Not Forget Zach Robichon’ Win In GTD
IN TYPICAL SPRINT RACE FASHION IT WAS ALL ABOUT THE LAST LAP AT THE END OF A 24 HOUR RACE
“What an incredible end of the race” seems to have been on everyones lips when they summed up the 60th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
There was the Daytona Prototype class where Konica-Minolta Acura team Wayne Taylor Racing were in a fight to the end with Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian. Wayne Taylor Racing was going for their fourth win in a row. And it came down to the last pit stop/full course yellow where Helio Castroneves taking the wheel of his no. 60 Acura ARX-05 would battle it out with Ricky Taylor in his no.10 Acura ARX-05 on new and cold tires. It was a great driving by both drivers upon the restart having to deal with no grip at all and then quickly coming up on traffic. But in the end, Castroneves built a sufficient gap to secure the victory.
There was also a fight of for the win in LMP2 between four teams that were on the same lap on the last restart. Dragon Speed USA of drivers Colton Herta, Pato O’ward, Eric Lux and Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco came out as winner after Herta made his way back to first and crossed the line with a seven seconds lead.
The third battle for the win was the one we(Canadians) pretty much focused on as Mathieu Jaminet(no. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) and Laurens Vanthoor(no. 2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3R) took their gloves off and had an epic battle for the win. Two Factory Porsche driver doing what they do best. Driving the wheels of their race cars.
In an interview leading up to the Roar, Vanthoor had said he only had the one goal and it was that Rolex 24 win that he has yet to add to his resume. Fo certain, he could feel wearing that Rolex watch was possible as Jaminet and him played bumper cars(all in fairness of the fight) and even completed the pass on Jaminet before dropping back to second place. Only to come back for another attempt and as both cars were entering the bus stop side by side, you could see something was about to happen as none of the drivers gave more space than needed. It was both their corner. As they made contact, it came so close for both of them to loose it all.
Jaminet made an incredible save to continue on and win the Rolex 24.
What an accomplishment by Pfaff Motorsports after experiencing some tough situations at Daytona in previous running of the Rolex 24. As Pfaff Motorsports Steve Bortolotti mentioned on a previous interview on how they approached this Year’s Rolex 24 : “We are just approaching it as race 11 for our team. We want to continue on what we built in 2021. I’ve been preaching within the team that this is not a new season”.
That, they did and more.
In the GTD class, There were also four cars on the same lap at the last restart. One of them was no. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Ryan Hardwick/ Jan Heylen, Richard Lietz and Canadian Zach Robichon. Ultimately, the Porsche crew had the performance advantage as they crossed the line with a 12 seconds advantage over the no. 44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.
It is so fitting that both Pfaff Motorsports and Zach Robichon win the Rolex 24 albeit separately. Zach had been a pillar at Pfaff Motorsports since the team came to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Looking at the fastest lap times overall in the GTD class, Zach came out with the 11th fastest time, only four tenths form the quickest. 38 drivers were within a second lap time wise.
Zach surely deserves to get a full time ride in a competitive team and let’s hope it will come his way as for now, he is to compete with Wright Motorsports in IMSA’s Endurance Cup.
For Alegra Motorsports and Daniel Morad, things looked promising early on. Until the alternator had other plans. This team deserves a better outcome and let’s hope that it will all come around at Sebring in March.
Roman De Angelis and Heart of Racing also had a tough result at the Rolex 24. They were in contention for a good part of the race. From a brief team release, it mentioned they had a part failure that needed replacement. And that part was costly in terms of number of laps lost, 19 laps to be precise. They did keep running and reached the checkered flag in ninth place.
Mikaël Grenier and no. 57 Winward Racing had higher aspirations then what they received. Consistently in the leading pack of the GTD class, they also had to bring the car to the garage for bodywork repair in the 19th hour… and to heat up the bear bond to help patch things together. In the process, they lost eight laps. They still finished sixth and that is good for points. Looking at the laptimes, they had a solid line-up of drivers in Russell Ward, Philip Ellis, Lucas Auer and Mikaël. Only .359s difference on their fastest laps.
AWA Racing, for their first outing in LMP3, have to be happy with the result. Other than a glitch with the car in the first laps of the race where they lost a lap and in the last two hours where they had to bring the car back to the garage to solve another issue, they finished their first 24 hour race in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. It has to be huge accomplishment for them as they had only a couple of months to turn everything around from running a GT car in Michelin Pilot Challenge. And they had not tested the car other than the shakedown prior to arriving at the Roar.
If there is one thing to take away from this Year’s Rolex 24 is that the IMSA Weather SportsCar Championship is in good health! Such great battles across the different class.
We can hardly wait for Sebring on March 16-19.
Race Provisional Rolex 24 by class here.
Image : Patrice Marchessault / PMstills Photography