The Daytona 24 Hours effectively kicks off road racing’s international calendar – and invariably, given the warm Florida climes, packed grids and tight frantic racing, does so in great style.
The classic enduro also offers DTM drivers both past and present the opportunity to scratch the racing itch that, in many cases, has laid dormant over the long winter break.
The event got off to a good start for Oliver Jarvis. The Brit, who raced for Audi in DTM between 2008 and ’11, claimed pole position for the second year in a row with his Mazda DPi. In the race, he and his team-mates were classified second – finishing behind the WTR Cadillac helmed by Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe and Kamui Kobayashi, who established the race’s new distance record of 833 laps .
Van der Zande, who was also part of last year’s winning team, raced in the DTM with Mercedes in 2011, while ex-F1 driver Kobayashi, now also a two-time winner, got his first taste of DTM machinery driving for BMW in last year’s epic Fuji Dream Race.
Audi regular Loïc Duval was the best-placed current DTM driver. After battling regularly for the lead, the Frenchman and team-mates Sébastien Bourdais and João Barbosa finished third in the JDC Miller MotorSports Cadillac.
Reigning IMSA prototype champion Juan Pablo Montoya, classified fourth in the Penske Acura, also has DTM experience: a one-off appearance standing in for the injured Jan Magnussen at a 1996 ITC round held at Silverstone.
Former Audi DTM driver Filipe Albuquerque from Portugal came seventh in the Whelen Engineering Cadillac.
Augusto Farfus’ squad enjoyed a flawless weekend to earn GTLM victory
BMW scored its second consecutive GTLM class win at Daytona by virtue of ex-DTM racer Augusto Farfus, Jesse Krohn, John Edwards and Chaz Mostert. For Farfus, it was also a repeat of his success at the same venue in 2019. The Brazilian was overwhelmed by the success: “I’m speechless,” he said. “That was the best 24-hour race I have driven in my whole life. It was extremely fast, extremely close, and you could not afford to make any mistakes. We drove a perfect race: team, strategy, drivers, mechanics.”
The other BMW, helmed by 2012 DTM champion Bruno Spengler, current DTM racer Philipp Eng, Connor de Phillippi and Colton Herta, lost time due to a damaged oil line after running over debris early in the race. The quartet ended up fifth in class, two places ahead of the number 4-Corvette with a line-up that included Swiss Marcel Fässler, who raced in the DTM with Mercedes and Opel. Eng had a pragmatic view of the situation: “What happened to our car is a shame. However, these things happen. We’ll go again next time...”
DTM champ Bruno Spengler and Philipp Eng struggled to claw back time after running over debris early in the race
Several drivers with DTM experience raced in the GTD class. Driving the Black Swan Racing Porsche 911, Jeroen Bleekemolen, an ex-Opel DTM driver, achieved the best result among them, classified fifth.
The GEAR Racing Lamborghini with an all-female line-up that included ex-DTM drivers Rahel Frey from Switzerland and Katherine Legge from the UK attracted a lot of attention and was a fan’s favourite with its striking comic-inspired livery. The team lost time due to an oil pump problem early in the race before retiring after the car caught fire.
Rahel Frey (left) and Katherine Legge led an all-female line-up
Pedro Lamy and Mathias Lauda – who both raced for Mercedes in DTM – teamed up in an Aston Martin in the GTD class, but the car retired due to collision damage.
Belgian team WRT, which fields two Audis in the DTM, was also involved at Daytona with the Audi R8 under the WRT Speedstar Audi Sport banner. The car was in contention for a class win, before ending up third.