Ryan Hunter-Reay finished on the podium in the Rolex 24 at Daytona on Sunday, which was the best finish of any Verizon IndyCar Series participant. The Andretti Autosport driver took the No. 90 Prototype to a third overall finish, in what proved to be a grueling 24 hour race for many. The race was won by the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Honda Ligier, driven by Pipo Derani, Johannes Van Overbeek, Ed Brown, and former IndyCar race winner Scott Sharp.
It was the second Rolex 24 win for Sharp, who won his first 20 years earlier. Although it was a strong start for the IndyCar drivers, their luck ran out as nightfall came. The next highest finishing IndyCar driver was Simon Pagenaud in the No. 31 Action Express Racing entry, who finished in sixth overall. The team overcame a brief scare when a cockpit fire erupted during the evening stint. It was a solid day for Pagenaud, but Hunter-Reay carried the torch for IndyCar.
The 2012 Series Champion and 2014 Indy 500 winner drove the final stint in the Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP that struggled with balance and grip issues throughout the event. “We just kept our heads down and got every drop out of that car that we had today,” Hunter-Reay said. “It was the team’s best finish here, being third. This is one of those races where it’s win or nothing, but these guys are in it for the long haul, for a championship and this is points racing. Good points today and I think we salvaged something out of it.”
Chip Ganassi’s teams struggled across the board. The Ford Riley Daytona Prototypes weren’t a threat to win, although the No. 01 car did finish fifth overall. The No. 02 car with defending race winners Scott Dixon, Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson, and Jamie McMurray came home 13th, after a crash into the tire barrier with Larson behind the wheel. They had been fighting brake problems throughout the event.
Ganassi’s Ford GTs both suffered early electrical issues that caused problems with the transmissions on the No. 66 (Sebastien Bourdais) and 67 (Ryan Briscoe) cars. The cars were fast when in good shape, but they had more problems later on that plagued them into overall finishes of 31st and 40th. “We certainly had our share of reliability issues, and that is not uncommon in a brand new car’s debut,” said Raj Nair, Executive VP, Global Product Development, and CTO, Ford Motor Company. “As we have said, the first time these two particular cars hit the road was literally at the Roar test here a couple weeks ago.”
Mikhail Aleshin began the race on Pole, but the car quickly faded and ended up in the 38th overall position. The luck was even worse for Graham Rahal, who wasn’t able to finish the race after the team’s No. 100 BMW suffered a technical failure.
Katherine Legge had actually led the race in the No. 0 DeltaWing, but Andy Meyrick couldn’t react in time to a stalled car on the track during nightfall, and the team was forced to end their race after they realized the tub of the car was damaged. Just recently, espnW spoke with Legge about her upcoming plans for the Indianapolis 500.
Townsend Bell finished 30th overall in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3, and Spencer Pigot ended up 49th overall in the Mazda Prototype. The race had 21 caution flags in all, with 5 hours and 10 minutes of yellow time. You can find the full unofficial results here, via the IMSA website.
Photos from the Rolex 24, courtesy of IndyCar:
IndyCar drivers will now turn their attention back to testing, which will begin tomorrow for some. Testing at Sebring International Raceway tomorrow (Monday) will be Andretti Autosport (Hunter-Reay, Andretti, Munoz), Schmidt Peterson Motorsports (Hinchcliffe, Aleshin), and AJ Foyt Racing (Sato, Hawksworth).
Tuesday is Media Day, at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The schedule for that can be seen below.
Time: 9:30 a.m.
What: Newcomers and Returning Stars
What: Conor Daly, Mikhail Aleshin, Spencer Pigot and TBA driver
Time: 10:30 a.m.
What: The Young Guns of INDYCAR
Who: Marco Andretti, Graham Rahal, Josef Newgarden and James Hinchcliffe
Time: 11 a.m.
What: Honda Performance Development Announcement
Time: 11:30 a.m.
What: 100th Running of the Indianapolis 500 update
Who: Doug Boles (President, Indianapolis Motor Speedway)
Time: 12:30 p.m.
What: No. 9 Car Livery Unveil
Who: Scott Dixon and Mike Hull (Director, Chip Ganassi Racing Teams)
*This announcement will occur at the North Green Room of the Pagoda
Time: 1 p.m.
What: Project 100 Milestone Moment and Special Presentation
Who: Doug Boles and Helio Castroneves
*This event will occur at the Yard of Bricks.
Time: 1:30 p.m.
What: Reliving the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500
Who: Juan Pablo Montoya and Will Power
Time: 2:15 p.m.
What: 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series season preview
Who: Mark Miles (CEO, Hulman & Co.)
Time: 3-5 p.m.
What: Featured Driver Availabilities
Who: Ryan Hunter-Reay, Simon Pagenaud, Ed Carpenter and more.