Juan Pablo Montoya piloted the #01 Ganassi Riley-BMW across the finish line for a win in the 51st running of the Rolex 24. He had to pit for a splash of fuel just minutes before the end of the race, losing the lead to Max Angelelli in his Corvette DP momentarily, but when Angelelli had to pull in for a splash as well, Montoya regained the lead and held on for the win.
The car that Montoya shared with Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Charlie Kimball owned the race. Although the 24-hour event saw a record 74 lead changes, the #01 car was classified as the leader at the end of sixteen of the race’s 24 hours. It was the fifth win for Pruett, tying Hurley Haywood’s record, and the fifth win in ten Rolex 24 starts for Ganassi.
The Ganassi Riley-BMWs, running Dinan-built V8s, were able to blow by all competitors on the track’s high bankings. Chip Ganassi attributed the pace of the car to mechanical grip. He said after the race, “My hat is off to the guys in Indianapolis who put the cars together. When you saw how fast we were at the end of the straightaways, it was because we had less wing in the car…. These are not spec cars, there are lots of things you can work with to develop mechanical grip.”
Car #02, driven by Dario Franchitti, Joey Hand, and Jamie McMurray, was also formidable, but it fell back at 5:45 a.m. on Sunday morning. McMurray, distracted as he exited his pit, ran into the wall at pit exit. “It didn’t seem like the pit-road speed monitor was working, and I got panicked," He said. "I was speeding, just reading the dash. When I got to the end of pit road, I was too hot trying to exit the pits on cold tires. It’s crazy how slick it is. I just made a mistake.”
The car was taken to the garage for repairs after the incident. When it returned to the fray, it was seven laps down; it recovered several laps before it retired just before noon with a driveline problem.
In addition to the Ganssi team, Team Sahlen, running its first race with Riley-BMW prototypes, acquitted itself well much of the way. The team’s #42 car, driven by Dane Cameron, Wayne Nonnamaker, Simon Pagenaud, and Bruno Junqueira, started from third on the grid and ran near the front, even leading the race briefly. It ran in the top ten through seventeen hours of the race, but it stopped on course just before 9:00 a.m. and was taken to the garage for a major driveline repair. It re-entered the race at 10:10 a.m., and went on to finish ninth in class.
Junqueira, Tomy Drissi, Will Nonnamaker, Joe Nonnamaker, and Joe Sahlen drove Sahlen’s #43 car. It had a hard-to-diagnose driveline problem that set it back early in the race. It returned to run near the back of the DP pack through the night, but was parked on Sunday morning.
The fifth Riley-BMW prototype, the Highway To Help Riley-BMW driven by team owner Carlos de Quesada, Ian James, Jim Pace, Bryan DeFoor, and Frank Beck, spent more than its fair share of time in the garage, beginning with a transmission problem early in the race. It was withdrawn on Sunday morning after a dragging front splitter damaged the floor of the car.
Turner Motorsport’s #94 M3 was the sole BMW entry in the GT class. The team’s #93 car was crashed in practice on Friday, and was not repaired for the race. Car #94, driven by Bill Auberlen, Paul Dalla Lana, Billy Johnson, Maxime Martin, and Boris Said, played catch-up to the quicker Ferraris, Porsches, and Audis, and spent time behind the wall on two occasions. It finished 18th. Filipe Albuquerque, Oliver Jarvis, Edoardo Mortara, and Dion von Moltke won the class in an Audi R8.—Brian S. MorganBack to News