Nighttime has enveloped the Daytona International Speedway and several trends seem to be emerging three hours into the 51st Rolex 24. One trend is obvious. The two Ganassi BMW Rileys are fast. The pole sitting No. 01 car has led most of the first three hours of the race and the No. 02 entry has run steadily in the top-four. The additional rpms Grand-Am granted the BMW motor over the offseason seem to have made the car faster – at least at Daytona. This speed combined with the resources available at Ganassi will make these two cars difficult to beat if they don’t encounter any major problems.
The lead Starworks entry, the No. 2 Ford Riley, also looks strong. The Ford engines may not be as fast as they were last year. But with a lineup consisting of Ryan Dalziel, Sebastien Bourdais, Allan McNish, and Alex Popow, the Starworks car looks capable of challenging for the win. The rest of the Fords do not look as strong. Only one other Ford was running in the top-10 after three hours.
The six Ferrari 458s and four Audi R8s have added diversity to the GT class field and have kept the race from being a Porsche parade. Halfway through the fourth hour, Ferrari, Camaro, Audi and Porsche held down the top-four respective spots in GT.
Finally, the six-car GX class may not yet be ready for a 24-hour race. All three Mazda 6s have been off of the track for extended periods of time and it seems unlikely any of them will make it to the halfway point, let alone the finish line. The other three cars in the class – all Porsche Caymans – are well off the pace of their GT brethren.