BMW Team RLL’s Z4s finished second and fourth in the GTLM class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Joey Hand, in car #55, who was running on the same lap as the class-winning Porsche, made a charge for the lead in the waning laps, but he lost precious time when he was squeezed by another car at the entrance to the banking. He soldiered on to finish second in the car that he shared with Bill Auberlen, Maxime Martin, and Andy Priaulx.
The class win went to the new factory Porsche 911 RSR driven by Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, and Nick Tandy. Hand was just 2.838 seconds behind the Porsche at the end of the race.
Z4 #56, driven by John Edwards, Dirk Müller, Graham Rahal, and Dirk Werner, finished fourth in class. The car was running third, but it fell to sixth when it lost several laps for repairs after a right rear wheel bearing failed. The car recovered to finish fourth after the 4# Corvette, which had been running second, went behind the wall for transmission repairs and the #93 Viper, which was running just ahead of the Z4, stopped on course.
The Z4 GTLMs, running their first Rolex 24, were down on straightaway speed to their class competitors. But their handling, reliability, Team RLL’s race strategy and teamwork, and the talent of the drivers combined to provide valuable points in the first round of the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship.
Turner Motorsport’s Z4 driven by Dane Cameron, Paul Dalla Lana, Augusto Farfus, and Markus Palttala finished seventh in the GTD class. The car lost four laps early in the race for taillight repairs. After that it had a strong run, finishing three laps down at the end. At the end of the race the class win was awarded to the Flying Lizard Audi R8. Level 5 Motorsports’ Ferrari finished first on the track, but was given a controversial penalty for avoidable contact as it battled with the Audi for the lead in the final laps of the race. The penality was later rescinded, so the Ferrari got the win.
The overall win went to the Action Express Racing Corvette DP driven by Joao Barbosa, Sebastien Bourdais, and Christian Fittipaldi. The Starworks Motorsport Dinan-BMW powered Riley prototype driven by Scott Mayer, Alex Popow, and Brendon Hartley was a strong contender at one point, running as high as third, but it retired with engine failure after nine hours of racing.
The race was red flagged for over an hour just before the three hour mark for a horrific crash between the Gainsco Corvette DP driven by Memo Gidley and the Ferrari 458 Italia driven by Matteo Malucelli. Gidley, driving head on into the setting sun, moved over to avoid another car. He could not see the Ferrari, which had slowed on the circuit, and plowed into it. Both drivers were hospitalized. Gidley has had surgery on his left arm and leg, and will still have to have back surgery. Malucelli remains in the hospital for observation; at this time no specific information on his condition has been provided.
TUSC competition resumes at the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 15.—Brian S. MorganBack to News