DAYTONA BEACH, Florida: The 55th running of the Rolex 24 left us with plenty to talk about, with most of the spotlight going to the controversial finish between Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque. However, there was plenty of drama elsewhere in the waning minutes of the other Sunday’s (Monday in Manila) race, including photo finishes in both the GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona classes, and a final sendoff for the Prototype Challenge (PC).
Here’s how the other three classes finished, and what they had to say about it.
Class winner: Performance Tech Motorsports – James French, Patricio O’Ward, Kyle Masson, Nickolas Boulle
Runner-up: Bar1 Motorsports – Tom Papadopoulos, Johnny Mowlem, Adam Merzon, Trent Hindman, David Cheng
In the PC’s final Rolex 24, it was a wire-to-wire win for the No. 38 car, which was the highest PC qualifier and led the class for almost all 24 hours.
Boulle drove the final stint for the PTM team, which was 22 laps up in the classification when they crossed the finish line. This was the team’s first victory in the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) WeatherTech Series.
“To me, this is the most prestigious win in North American sports car racing,” Boulle said. “It’s a special day. James [French] put the car on the pole and it gave us a great foundation and a lot of confidence. Despite being a young group we were smart, clean and we worked our way through traffic and it paid off at the end.”
Class winner: Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais
Runner-up: Porsche GT Team – Patrick Pilet, Dirk Werner, Frederic Makowiecki
As exciting as the overall finish was, the show that Dirk Mueller, Patrick Pilet and James Calado put on over the final 20 minutes was some of the best racing on the track.
At one point, all three were bumper-to-bumper, and while Mueller’s Ford pulled away at the end to win, the gap between second and third was a mere .091 second.
Mueller, driving the No. 66 machine for Chip Ganassi Racing, scored Ford’s 27th class win of all-time.
“What a race,” Mueller said. “To be sitting here is a big honor, especially after that challenging race. There were at least five moments in the rain that I thought I was going to scratch it up, it was really intense. Just a fantastic job by everyone.”
Class winner: Alegra Motorsports – Michael Christensen, Carlos de Quesada, Daniel Morad, Jesse Lazare, Michael de Quesada
Runner-up: Montaplast by Land-Motorsport – Christopher Mies, Connor De Phillippi, Jules Gounon, Jeffrey Schmidt
Michael Christensen held off a late charge by Christopher Mies to win his first ever Rolex 24 in the weekend’s closest 1-2 finish.
Christensen, making his fifth Rolex start, took over with three hours to go, and, according to teammate Carlos de Quesada, “ran a flawless” race.
This was the 69th victory for Porsche in Rolex 24.
“It was nerve-wracking, obviously very close,” Christensen said. “I knew I was better so I really just tried to build a gap after the restart. Many different things happened in that last hour, but everything played out well. I knew if I could maintain a small gap I’d be able to hold him off at the end.”