The 52nd Rolex 24 at Daytona was under a red flag at the three-hour mark as a result of a violent crash between Memo Gidley’s Bob Stallings Corvette DP and the No. 62 Ferrari 458 Italia of Matteo Malucelli. Once they had been removed from their cars, both drivers were taken directly to Halifax Memorial Hospital. No additional information was available on the condition of either driver when this story was written.
The crash happened when Malucelli was moving slowly of the left side of the kink between the two, horse-shoe shaped turns in Daytona’s infield road course. The Italian has apparently lost power and was trying to get moving again when Gidley plowed into him at full speed, sending parts and pieces of both cars flying through the air. The field was stopped behind the accident for a lap and the race was red-flagged one lap later.
Christian Fittipaldi was leading under the red flag in the Action Express Corvette DP. Tony Kanaan’s Ganassi Racing Ford Riley was second, followed by Max Angelelli (Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP), and Alex Popow (Starworks Riley DP Dinan). Roman Rusinov rounded out the top-five in the Nissan Morgan, the highest-placed former ALMS P2 car. A number of the other legacy P2 cars had already suffered problems, including both Extreme Speed Motorsports Hondas and the SpeedSource Mazdas.
“(The car) is running pretty well at the moment,” said Farnbacher’s teammate, Marc Goosens. “There were a couple of close calls during the race with traffic, especially in turns one and two. With both Vipers, we had quite a bit of cushion over the others. Driving slightly defensive to keep track position and work into a nice rhythm.”
Maurizio Mediani was leading in the GT Daytona Class and Chris Cumming topped the Prototype Challenge category.
Prior to the accident, the main story line involved the traffic. Traffic is always an issue at Daytona, but many drivers said they thought it was worse this year than in years past. “The racing is really about navigating the traffic right now,” said Patrick Dempsey.
“The biggest thing that I noticed straight away is traffic,” added Viper driver Jonathan Bomarito. “It’s very, very difficult. You have to be not just one step ahead but three or four. I think the car that can manage all of that best will be there at the end. I think we will see more attrition than I thought and that’s probably going to be from car-to-car contact.”