• Tim Fullbrook

ROAR Race: Wayne Taylor Racing claim Rolex 24 pole in thrilling battle

Wayne Taylor take pole for next weekend's 24 hour race after fight with Mustang Sampling erupts on final lap

Wayne Taylor Racing will start the defence of their Rolex 24 crown from pole next weekend after the #10 Acura withstood a torrent of passing attempts from #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac to hold onto the first race win of the season.

A caution-free 100 minute event would see Ricky Taylor tasked with defending his position from a fiery Richard Westbrook in the final stint, as the duo broke away from the chasing pack in traffic. Starting the final lap, separated by two car lengths, Westbrook dived to the inside at T1 but minor contact would spin the #5 and hand pole to the #10. Ally Racing's #48 Cadillac heads the second row as an error-free run from nine-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson and two-time WEC champion Kamui Kobayashi would see them leap ahead of the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura and #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac in the final quarter of the race. The latter two cars were the earliest to hit pitlane for their final stops, and as a result were forced to save fuel heavily in the closing laps.

Both Cadillac Racing machines struggled to make an impact after receiving drive through penalties for speeding in pitlane in the first round of stops, undoing the hard work of Renger van der Zande on the opening lap who passed six cars to climb to second in the first three corners of the race.

PR1 and Andretti dominate LMP divisions

#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports proved once again to be the class of the LMP2 field, leading the entirety of the 100 minute event with ease, and bagging pole for the Rolex 24. Ben Keating drove a clean and fast opening stint before Mikkel Jensen completed a stellar opening weekend for the reigning IMSA LMP2 champions. The #11 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport Oreca of Steven Thomas and ex-Mazda pilot Jonathon Bomarito completed a 1-2 for the team, albeit 20 seconds behind the leading car.

Only 1.544s further down the road was the #68 Algarve Pro Racing Oreca which climbed up the field in the second half of the race in the hands of Audi LMDh driver Rene Rast. The three-time DTM champion looked in fine form on his return to Daytona, and to prototype machinery.

Andretti Autosport's #36 Ligier JS P320 scored pole with a fairly unchallenged run throughout the ROAR race. Jarett Andretti and Josh Burdon's closest challengers was the #6 Muehlner Motorsports Duqueine D08.

Lamborghini snatch first GTD PRO Rolex 24 pole, Mercedes top GTD

The first GTD PRO 'race win' and first full pole position went the way of #63 TR3 Racing as Lamborghini factory drivers Andrea Caldarelli and Mirko Bortolotti drove flawlessly, the latter passing the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche in the final 15 minutes to take top spot.

Pfaff Motorsport completed the top three with Mathieu Jaminet and Filipe Nasr looking confident and leading early on in the #9 911 GT3 R. Class pole-sitters, the #2 KCMG Porsche 911 GT3 R, would drop down the order after a delayed pitstop for Alex Imperatori where the car was rejecting the fuel being pumped into it. Eventually Patrick Pilet would recover to 10th, ahead of #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 and both BMW Team RLL M4 GT3s. Corvette would scrape inside the top ten in GTD PRO with an uneventful and uninspiring run to 8th and 9th, with the #3 heading the #4 by a matter of tenths at the chequered flag. Winward Racing's #57 dominated the second GT3-based class with a stellar drive from Russell Ward and Lucas Auer puttting the Mercedes team in the best position possible to defend their Rolex 24 crown. For the majority of the race and at the flag, the GTD class winner was inside the top five cars across both GTD categories.

#59 Crucial Motorsports McLaren of Jon Miller and Paul Holton chased Auer home, +0.509s behind at the finish with the #16 Wright Motorsports picking up P3 in class a further 13 seconds back. CLICK HERE TO VIEW THE FULL RACE RESULTS

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