Brazil’s Luis Derani brought home victory for his Tequila Patrón Extreme Speed Motorsports racing team on Monday at the Rolex 24 At Daytona held at Daytona Beach, Florida, which also saw Italian runner-up racer Max Angelelli hospitalized.
Driving like a seasoned veteran, Derani took the lead with one-hour and 17 minutes remaining, and pulled away down the stretch to lead his team to victory, capping off a sensational race in the opening round of the 2016 International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.
Derani took the checkered flag as the overall winner in a Honda-powered Ligier by 26.166 seconds over Angelelli, a 2005 overall winner, in a Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette.
Angelelli, 49, stopped the car on the track after crossing the finish line and was treated by medical staff and then taken to a local hospital for observation and evaluation. Race officials said he was conscious and stable and gave no other details of why he required treatment.
Derani’s teammates in the endurance test of driver and machine were Americans Scott Sharp, Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek.
It was the first overall triumph for both Honda and Ligier in the event, and the second overall victory for Sharp, who teamed with rival car owner Wayne Taylor in 1996.
“The last two hours and a half was pretty tough, pretty intense, with the Taylor brothers pushing us really hard trying to victory,” Derani said. “I was trying to not make any mistakes and keep the gap. To increase the gap up to the end was amazing. I need to thank my team for the amazing car they gave me.”
The winning car completed 736 laps on the 3.56-mile (5.7-kilometer) circuit, 2,620.16 miles (4192.26 kilometers), with the competitive race featuring 76 lead changes.
“[The year] 2015 was a bit of a rough year for us. We made a lot of changes as November rolled around, and to see all that culminate together and to come out of the box and win a big race like this is just huge for us,” Sharp said.
Angelelli finished second, 26.166 seconds behind in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP co-driven by brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor plus Formula One veteran Rubens Barrichello, a late roster addition. Wayne Taylor Racing – owned by the 1996 and 2005 Rolex 24 winner – finished second for the third time in the last four years.
Visit Florida Racing took the remaining podium position with a lead-lap finish for Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay in the No. 90 Corvette DP, 1:27.276 behind at the checkered flag.
Scott Pruett came up short in a bid for an unprecedented sixth overall victory in the event, finishing fourth in the defending Prototype champion No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP co-driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Felipe Albuquerque. The team ran in contention until a broken axle sent the Action Express Racing team to the garage for repairs with less than four hours remaining.
The defending winning No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi EcoBoost Riley of Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Jamie McMurray and Kyle Larson ran in contention for the first half of the event before falling back with brake problems. Its chances ended shortly after the 21-hour mark when Larson crashed in the International Horseshoe, resulting in major front-end damage, although the team managed to repair the car to finish seventh in the Prototype class.
IMSA.COM WITH AFP