Last Saturday afternoon, a sunny 20 °C beckoned at the 59th edition of the long-distance classic in Daytona. And once more, numerous teams in the GTD and GTLM classes didn’t need asking twice to take part in the classic race at Daytona Beach. Unfortunately, several accidents and collisions – in spite of the good weather – cast a shadow over the 24-hour race: for the GTD class in particular, the challenge was in manoeuvring through the thick swarm of the various racing classes without making contact. This enabled the team Wright Motorsports, who deployed a great deal of effort and an even greater driving performance, to clinch fourth place during the night, even in spite of a collision. Had it not been for the accident, Porsche works driver Patrick Long from the USA, along with fellow American Trent Hindman, Jan Heylen from Belgium and Klaus Bachler from Austria, would have been in the best position to score a place on the podium.
Who triumphed under Florida's sun: IMSA 2021 at Daytona.
Collisions determine the race result.
Jan Heylen effortlessly made up dozens of places in the early stages of the race. The Porsche 911 GT3 R with starting number 16 skilfully held its ground in the thick field of drivers, until it took the lead for the first time after five and a half hours. The podium was in touching distance for Wright Motorsports, but then came the collision on Sunday night. This left the Wright Motorsports Porsche limping around the track with considerable damage to its left-hand side. As a result, the prospect of a place on the podium grew increasingly distant for Heylen, Long, Bachler and Hindman. And for the team Hardpoint EBM, with Earl Bamber from New Zealand, Rob Ferriol from the USA, Christina Nielsen from Denmark and Katherine Legge from Great Britain at the wheel, damage to the front splitter turned the remainder of the race into sheer torture. Their team managed to finish in tenth place, while Wright Motorsports, thanks to a superb display of driving at the end, still snatched a well-earned fourth place.
An abrupt end for WeatherTech Racing.
For the team WeatherTech Racing, the race was over before it had even begun. Works driver Kévin Estre suffered a heavy blow to the rear when an opponent shunted him within the first few minutes of the race. This collision catapulted the 515 PS strong Porsche from its starting position of 3rd place straight into the box. With tragic consequences: the repairs set the team back 14 laps. Despite a fierce battle, they never quite managed to catch up with the GTLM field. The Porsche 911 RSR with starting number 79 finished the race in sixth place in the GTLM class.
A tough draw for Pfaff Motorsports.
Fall down. Get back up. Next stop – Sebring.
The season is long and preparations for the next season highlight have already begun. Of course, the 59th edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona should have been a better start to the season. Of course, the Porsche customer teams would have loved a champagne shower. Of course, it would have been so much easier to take on the next challenge with a victory behind them. But it wouldn’t be motorsport if everything were easy, would it? It just makes us all the more excited for the second race in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – the traditional 12-hour race in Sebring on 20 March. Here’s hoping for a collision-free, if not just as spectacular racing weekend.