Porsche factory drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long dominated the Rolex Sports Car Series' Daytona Prototype class this weekend at the Homestead Miami Speedway, qualifying on the pole, leading the most laps, turning the race's fastest lap,...
Porsche factory drivers Mike Rockenfeller and Patrick Long dominated the Rolex Sports Car Series' Daytona Prototype class this weekend at the Homestead Miami Speedway, qualifying on the pole, leading the most laps, turning the race's fastest lap, and winning the Linder Industrial Komatsu Grand Prix of Miami in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing/Emory Motorsports Porsche Crawford. The duo led 64 of 107 laps and finished 4.883 seconds ahead of the No. 39 Porsche Crawford of Christian Fittipaldi and Lucas Luhr, which started second.
"I lost the start," said Rockenfeller after his first series win. "I was really surprised. I though it was a jump-start by Christian, which is not a big deal. I just thought he would get a penalty and when he didn't I pushed and overtook him. Then we fell back a little bit because of strategy and yellows. And then we had fresh tires and I pushed a lot because I knew I had to because you never know with all of the yellows. We knew we had the car to win. I'm really, really happy for the team, especially for the mechanics because they worked so hard before Daytona and then we were so - shall we say - unlucky there."
"We're not a full-time deal yet, so our goal is to win every race and every qualifying session," added Long, the lone American Porsche factory driver. "I think we showed in Daytona that we have the pace. We just needed to finish up the job. Mike did and awesome job and I was able to run the middle part of the race pretty cleanly, although I had to do three restarts and there were a few guys trying to outwit me. But I was able to stay in the lead and keep it clean."
Lucas Luhr and Scott Pruett were not able to keep it quite as clean, bouncing off each other several times as they diced for second placed on the last lap. "It's just racing, you know," said Luhr, who finished second. "He opened the door and dived in and then he closed it again. So I had to make the move. I made the decision to go for it and I did. We touched each other several times and that was it."
As Luhr sped away, Pruett and co-driver Luis Diaz, who won the last race in Mexico City, had to settle for third in the Ganassi Racing Lexus Riley. "We threw every bit of racing know-how we could at that race to try and win it," said Pruett. "The guys made great calls, we stretched our fuel, and tried to play the yellows, we took a different strategy than everybody else, and that was it. That's all we had. It was a great race between us and the No. 39 car. A bit aggressive there towards the end, but I guess everything is a little fair play. All in all, I would like to see Grand-Am maybe focus a little bit on making things a little more even because the Porsches pretty much dominated. That is pretty unbelievable for all of the hard work the other teams have been doing."
Rounding out the top-five were the No. 19 Ford Crawford of Michael McDowell and Memo Gidley, and the No. 5 Essex Racing Ford Crawford of Rob Finlay and Michael Valiante.
Kelly Collins and Paul Edwards took GT class honors in the No. 64 TRG Pontiac GTO.R, passing the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda RX-8 of Sylvan Tremblay and David Haskell on the second to last lap to take their second consecutive victory. The No. 72 Tafel Racing Porsche of Robin Liddell and Wolf Henzler finished third.
"I had a pretty much flawless run," said Collins. "We had a bit of a vibration - a wheel weight came loose. I couldn't quite get past the 74 car, so I settled into a fourth place rhythm and gave the car to Paul in good condition. He went out and hauled ass. We had a couple really good breaks and he did a great job. It was a very exciting finish and he passed the Mazda on the second-to-last lap and we won the race. So it was a good day for the team."
The Rolex Sports Car Series returns to the track on April 8, at Long Beach, California.