Daytona GRAND-AM Rolex Series young star Dion von Moltke teamed with a trio of Audi factory drivers today to take the German manufacturer to its first victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
After starting fifth, the Alex Job Audi stayed in contention for the entire 24 hour journey before disaster struck with two and half hour remaining when the car was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact with the No.61 Ferrari.
Despite assertions from the Ferrari team that they hadn't been hit, Mortara was forced to head to pit lane to serve a one minute penalty.
This put the car one lap adrift of the leaders and back in seventh place. However, clever pit strategy from the Alex Job Racing team over the remaining 150 minutes of the race not only put the No.24 car back on the lead lap, Albuquerque was able to drive into the lead.
The Audi squad faced a nervous final stint, uncertain as to whether they would need to make one final pit stop for a splash of fuel. Albuquerque's late race pace actually enabled the team to call him in for fuel with a mere five minutes remaining and return to the race with a slim lead.
Despite late race pressure, Albuquerque was able to hold on to take the victory.
“I’m completely speechless. With more than two and half hours to go we got a penalty for avoidable contact and went a lap down,” von Moltke said.
“We thought we were down and out but we kept fighting, we kept digging, we kept trying to find any way, and Filipe (Albuquerque) probably put in the best drive I've ever seen a race car driver do in my life, and that's what it really takes to win this race, and to pull it off is really special.
“It was going to close on fuel and when we had to come in for a splash we thought “oh no” but we came back out in the lead and the whole team just erupted. I’ve never seen an atmosphere like that."
The victory is the second major sportscar endurance victory for the PR Newswire-supported driver von Moltke and Alex Job Racing in less than twelve months. The combination was also victorious in the GTC class in the American Le Mans Series in last year's 12 Hours of Sebring.
Today was the second victory for Alex Job Racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona - the previous one coming in 1999.
“To win a Rolex watch at Daytona is incredible. This was only my fifth time doing this race and it is the first attempt for Olly (Jarvis), Edo (Mortara) and Filipe. Until this year I’d never even led a lap here. I managed to do that in my stint and now to come away with a victory is just amazing," von Moltke said.
“I’ve got a great relationship with Audi and I’m thrilled to be a part of their first win here at the Daytona International Speedway. To get to drive with these three guys was a great experience they have already become some of my best friends in two weeks. They really are some of the best drivers I've ever got the honor to work with.
“I've always really enjoyed and loved driving for Alex (Job). Everyone on the team really gets along, and I've always said chemistry is the most important part of winning any race, especially Sebring or Daytona or Petit or any of those races.
"To be standing here on the podium as a winner at the Rolex 24 at Daytona is quite surreal. I have to say a big thanks to everyone who has helped my career including everyone at PR Newswire. Their backing and support has played a key role in my career so far.
“Of course everyone at Alex's team and everyone at Audi. We all had one goal this weekend and we all worked together towards that goal.”
Dion von Moltke