In a 24 hour race, you can expect some odd and unexpected things to take place, and the 2015 Rolex 24 at Daytona was no exception.
We saw a much cleaner version of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona this year, void of officiating problems and life-threatening accidents. Still, there were plenty of moments that had us turning our heads and forced us to look twice.
10.) Viper rises to the top without factory backing
Viper won the GTLM title in 2014, only to have Dodge pull the plug on the program soon after. Many saw it as the end of Viper in the series, but a GTD team headed by Ben Keating remained to prove that Viper was still here and still venomous. Both the No. 93 and No. 33 were blistering fast and in the end, the No. 93 took the checkered flag with Keating proclaiming, "This win is for the Viper nation, bringing it back to Daytona!"
9.) DeltaWing shows speed before gearbox issues
Motorsport.com spent some time with the DeltaWing team at Daytona, which showed speed in qualifying and early in the race, harassing the Ganassi drivers and holding off Action Express. Unfortunately, reliability issues hit the squad once again and they were relegated to a last-place finish in the event. Despite the early exit, they made their presence known at Daytona.
8.) Tandy slideways
One of the more dramatic moments early in the going was when Nick Tandy was getting aggressive while battling for the GTLM lead. He first tried to go three-wide with both Corvettes, then bump-drafted one, and finally, the heart-stopping moment came when he dove below the double-yellow line sideways after slightly touching one of the C7.Rs in one of the fastest sections of the circuit.
7.) Leaders make contact on pit road
As the intensity level rose, the two overall leaders battled for supremacy onto pit road and contact was made as the Action Express Corvette got on the brakes and tagged the Wayne Taylor car, who was attempting to pass the No. 5.
6.) For Ballast, RIP
This was not a good race for the Magnus Porsche and after returning to the garage late in the going, the team discovered the 'debris' that Andy Lally had struck a few hours prior. The aforementioned 'debris' broke through the splitter, radiator, and tub. It turned out to be a possum and the team reportedly retired from the race, but later returned to actually take the checkered flag. They posthumously named the possum 'Ballast' and if you have a strong stomach, it can be seen HERE.
5.) Close call, then massive impact
Very early in the Rolex 24, the No. 66 DP spun in the bus stop and upon returning to the circuit, it was almost struck by multiple GT cars before the Risi Competizione Ferrari just barely clipped the rear of the DP as it took to the wet grass. Later in the night, the most violent accident took place when the No. 51 AF Corse Ferrari pulled out in front of the GTD-pole sitters in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston.
4.) Auberlen rages
The Corvettes weren't the only cars Nick Tandy had a run-in with during the Rolex 24. Bill Auberlen was avoiding a spinning car when the Porsche hit him square in the wheel, setting the team a lap behind. When handed a mic, Auberlen tore Tandy apart, which can be heard below...
3.) Taylor forced to pit
The #2 moment on our list directly preceded our #3 moment and is the cause for the race being under caution with just a few minutes remaining. Jordan Taylor had Scott Dixon directly ahead of him and was ready for a fight, until he got the shocking call to pit. Turns out, the team had a catastrophic oversight with driving times, missing the fact that if Jordan completed the race, it would be in violation of the rules. The team lost their chance to fight for the win as his brother Ricky stepped in and were forced to settle for third.
2.) CORE Autosport's win goes up in flames
With less than 20 minutes to go and a one lap lead, you'd be feeling fairly good about yourself if you're Colin Braun and CORE Autosport. Well, the PC leader suddenly found himself off the track and with damage, desperate to rejoin the race. He did so but as he entered the backstretch chicane, what was left of the suspension failed and he crashed again, igniting a fire at the rear of the car which quickly spread. The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen entry, which was actually the first car to spin during the race, stole the win.
1.) Porsches collide
A major race-changer on the GT side came in the dead of the night when most were sleeping, but Motorsport.com was still following along when two damaged Porsches emerged from the darkness ... One with the right front torn off and the other with a massive gash in the right side door. Later, video from TRG showed what took place. While trying to pass the TRG-Aston in the infield, the No. 912 went into the grass and lost control, spinning directly into the door of the sister car in the upcoming corner.