The #02 Ganassi Riley-BMW of Scott Dixon, Dario Franchitti, Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya finished fourth in the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona. The #01 Ganassi car of Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Joey Hand, and Graham Rahal, the defending champions in the Rolex 24, was on pace for a podium position until a stop to replace a gear stack just over an hour before the end took seven minutes, dropping the car to sixth overall at the finish.
Both of the Ganassi Racing Dinan V8-powered Riley BMWs led the race at times, but in the end they could not match the pace of the Ford powered prototypes. Riley-Fords swept the podium; the win went to the Michael Shank Racing Riley-Ford of AJ Allmendinger, Oswaldo Negri, John Pew, and Justin Wilson. The Ganassi cars, like the winning Ford-powered prototype, ran new third-generation Riley bodywork. (Text continues after photos)
The pace of the race, with just 58 of the 761 laps run under yellow, meant that a premium was placed on speed. Race teams’ ability to use pit strategy and to close up under yellow were diminished in what was, in effect, a 24-hour sprint. The race fell just one lap short of the 762 laps run by the winning Nissan R91 CP in 1992.
The gear stack problem near the end was the first issue of the race for the #01 car. The #02 car lost several laps when it went to the garage with a broken shifter about 45 minutes before the halfway point in the race. It returned to the circuit four laps down, but finished just a lap down at the end of 24 hours.
There was another Riley-BMW in the race; the Predator/Alegra car of Carlos de Quesada, Byron Defoor, Brian Johnson, Elliott Forbes Robinson, and Jim Pace, a first-generation Riley chassis, finished twelfth in the Daytona Prototype class.
Turner Motorsport ran two M3s in the GT class. One, the #94 car of Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, Boris Said, Billy Johnson, and Jörg Müller, was retired with engine problems just three hours and forty-five minutes into the race. The #93 car, driven by Auberlen, Dalla Lana, Michael Marsal, Dirk Müller, and Dirk Werner, finished well back in the GT pack after two lengthy stops for repairs. The BMWs were not as quick as the Porsches that dominated the class. The GT class win went to the Magnus Racing Porsche GT3 Cup of Andy Lally, Richard Lietz, Rene Rast, and John Potter after a very intense battle for the lead among several Porsche teams, including second and third place finishers TRG and Brumos Racing.
The next Rolex Series race will be run at Barber Motorsports Park on March 31.—Brian S. Morgan, motorsports editor, bmwcca.orgBack to News