The 10 star drivers of the 2019 Rolex 24 at Daytona

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Fernando Alonso (Wayne Taylor Racing)

Cadillac DPi-V.R, Prototype

#10 Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Fernando Alonso

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

After taking his sportscars bow with the United Autosports LMP2 squad in final 12 months’s Rolex 24, Alonso returned to Daytona with the only goal of profitable. And as a part of Wayne Taylor Racing’s crack squad within the #10 Cadillac DPi-V.R, that’s precisely what he did, surging up the leaderboard each time he drove within the automobile. When the climate took a flip for the more serious, he was spellbinding, and whereas fixed warning durations saved the lead combat shut, he was often extending his lead when the yellow flags weren’t out. Proof, if any extra had been wanted, that he’s the total endurance racing package deal now.

Richard Westbrook (Ford Chip Ganassi Racing)

Ford GT, GT Le Mans

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon

#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook, Scott Dixon

Picture by: Richard Dole / LAT Photographs

Ford can really feel aggrieved it was denied a 3rd straight GTLM Rolex 24 win, with the race-ending crimson flag popping out instantly after the #67 automobile’s closing pitstop. That adopted a storming comeback from 5 laps down within the early levels, a comeback that Westbrook performed an instrumental function in, and the Briton was handed the unenviable process of taking on after the primary crimson flag, when circumstances had been nonetheless treacherous. After biking by way of to the entrance on the penultimate warning, he didn’t put a wheel mistaken and had gapped the chasing pack when he needed to pit underneath yellow simply earlier than the race stopped.

Augusto Farfus (BMW Staff RLL)

BMW M8 GTE, GT Le Mans

#25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE: Augusto Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Colton Herta

#25 BMW Staff RLL BMW M8 GTE: Augusto Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Colton Herta

Picture by: Jake Galstad / LAT Photographs

Though the #24 BMW M8 GTE was certainly one of only some GTLM vehicles to take pleasure in a largely clear run, it was Farfus that propelled it into profitable competition along with his awe-inspiring show within the closing laps of green-flag working. Some 20 minutes from the ultimate warning, Farfus was 11 seconds off the lead in fourth, however battled his well past Laurens Vanthoor’s Porsche earlier than outbraking James Calado’s Ferrari on his approach into the Bus Cease – a ballsy maneuver in such poor visibility. That turned out to be the profitable transfer when the #67 Ford needed to pit simply earlier than the crimson flag, handing BMW an emotional victory. 

Christian Engelhart (GRT Grasser Racing Staff)

Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, GT Daytona

Grasser Racing Team's 2019 GTD winners: (Left to right) Rolf Ineichen, Christian Engelhart, Rik Breukers, Mirko Bortolotti,

Grasser Racing Staff’s 2019 GTD winners: (Left to proper) Rolf Ineichen, Christian Engelhart, Rik Breukers, Mirko Bortolotti,

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

Having been within the ‘mistaken’ Grasser Lamborghini final 12 months, when the squad sealed GTD honors for the primary time, Engelhart partnered three of the 2018 winners this time round. Within the closing levels, the previous Blancpain GT champion expertly guided the #11 Huracan from a lapped ninth to first, profiting from spins for Luca Stolz within the Riley Motorsports Mercedes and Daniel Morad within the Land Motorsport Audi. So targeted was the German that he wasn’t even conscious he had taken the category lead till after the race was stopped, when he was lastly delivered the information by his staff.

Felipe Nasr (Motion Categorical Racing)

Cadillac DPi-V.R, Prototype 

The Whelen Engineering Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran, Pipo Derani.

The Whelen Engineering Motion Categorical Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr, Eric Curran, Pipo Derani.

Picture by: Jake Galstad / LAT Photographs

A 12 months on from his IMSA Prototype debut at Daytona, ex-Components 1 racer Nasr anchored the #31 Motion Categorical Racing Cadillac’s near-faultless run, proving faster than his extra skilled teammates and shining late on within the heavy rain. Had the race been known as to a halt even simply 5 minutes earlier, the #31 would have come away with the win, however because it was, Nasr had simply aquaplaned and run broad at Flip 1 when the crimson flags had been proven, relinquishing the result in Alonso’s #10 Cadillac. However that shouldn’t detract from what was in any other case a really robust efficiency that bodes nicely for the Brazilian’s IMSA title protection.

Kamui Kobayashi (Wayne Taylor Racing)

Cadillac DPi-V.R, Prototype

Wayne Taylor Racing's winners – Kamui Kobayashi, Fernando Alonso, Renger Van Der Zande, Jordan Taylor.

Wayne Taylor Racing’s winners – Kamui Kobayashi, Fernando Alonso, Renger Van Der Zande, Jordan Taylor.

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

The hype round Alonso in a win-contending experience was all the time going to overshadow his teammates’ endeavors, however Kobayashi regarded a match for his extra illustrious accomplice. After Alonso took the lead for the primary time and handed over to Kobayashi, there was a heart-in-mouth slide on chilly tires, however the Japanese driver then calmed down, set what was then quickest lap of the race, and regarded completely composed whereas preserving the Acuras at bay – a lot to Juan Pablo Montoya’s chagrin! Kobayashi now stands as a lot likelihood as Alonso of profitable the world’s two best sportscar races in the identical calendar 12 months, the primary particular person to take action since Mike Rockenfeller in 2010.

Oliver Jarvis (Mazda Staff Joest)

Mazda RT24-P, Prototype

Pole-sitting Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard, Rene Rast.

Pole-sitting Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, Tristan Nunez, Timo Bernhard, Rene Rast.

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

One other endurance occasion, extra big promise from Mazda, however extra unreliability points. Perhaps that’s harsh on a staff that completed second and third in final October’s Petit Le Mans, however it’s a mirrored image of how irritating this challenge should be for its drivers. There have been no weak hyperlinks within the seven-driver MTJ line-up at Daytona, however king on this event was Oliver Jarvis, who set a scintillating pole place – a brand new monitor report – and simply matched the tempo of the Acuras and Cadillacs. Perhaps he, like everybody else, would have struggled to maintain up with Alonso within the worst of the rain, however it positive would have been good to seek out out…

Agustin Canapino (Juncos Racing)

Cadillac DPi-V.R, Prototype

Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of: Agustin Canapino, Kyle Kaiser, Will Owen, Rene Binder.

Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of: Agustin Canapino, Kyle Kaiser, Will Owen, Rene Binder.

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

It’s powerful for groups making an attempt to make a giant impression of their first outing with a Cadillac DPi-V.R once they’re instantly in comparison with Motion Categorical Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing, each of whom are into their third 12 months with GM’s elegant bruiser. However whereas JDC-Miller is an IMSA stalwart, Juncos is new to the Prototype recreation. But Ricardo Juncos’ Caddy was quick, particularly with GT and TC legend Agustin Canapino on the wheel, regardless of the Rolex 24 being his Prototype debut. He certified simply zero.2sec slower than Jordan Taylor, and aside from a short spin in his first stint, he scarcely put a wheel mistaken within the race, even when the automobile suffered outrageous misfortunes. Canapino deserves to be a global star.

Ben Keating (Riley Motorsports)

Mercedes-AMG GT3, GT Daytona

Ben Keating of Riley Motorsports.

Ben Keating of Riley Motorsports.

Picture by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Photographs

Keating is a superb instance of an beginner who has made himself severely good with every passing season. After incomes his stripes in a Porsche 911, he acquired the hold of throwing long-hooded GT vehicles round driving Dodge Vipers to a number of wins and podiums and studying assiduously from long-time good friend and co-driver Jeroen Bleekemolen. However arguably Daytona this 12 months was Keating’s finest ever efficiency in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. He certified the automobile second, and saved it within the lead combat all through a quadruple early stint. Co-drivers Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz and Felipe Fraga had been then equally spectacular till Stolz spun within the moist. As much as that time, the #33 totally deserved GTD victory.

Alexander Rossi (Acura Staff Penske)

Acura ARX-05, Prototype

Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor.

Acura Staff Penske ARX-05 of Alexander Rossi, Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor.

Picture by: Richard Dole / LAT Photographs

If it’s laborious to select the brightest gentle from a star-studded forged of six Acura racers – all of them shone sooner or later over the 24 hours – the nod ought to go to the man with the least expertise of the ARX-05. Rossi was drafted into the staff as a considerably last-minute substitute for Graham Rahal, however he was instantly on the tempo, and are available race day he discovered go Cadillac-threatening quick whereas additionally conserving his tires. He additionally saved his cool whereas dueling with teammate Montoya, and confirmed wonderful judgment coping with GT visitors. Final 12 months’s IndyCar runner-up can have made a robust impression on Roger Penske, and we look ahead to seeing him reprise his function at Sebring subsequent month.