Daytona report

Record Finish For Doyle Racing In Rolex 24 At Daytona DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The 34th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona produced the closest finish in the history of the race and an exhilarating debut victory for Doyle Racing on Feb. 3-4...

Record Finish For Doyle Racing In Rolex 24 At Daytona

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. -- The 34th running of the Rolex 24 At Daytona produced the closest finish in the history of the race and an exhilarating debut victory for Doyle Racing on Feb. 3-4 at Daytona International Speedway. The record margin of victory for Doyle's Oldsmobile R&S Mk. 3 over the MOMO Corse Ferrari 333 SP was 64.099 seconds after 2,481.32 miles of racing. The event kicked off Speedweeks 96 and was the season opener for the International Motor Sports Association's Exxon World SportsCar Championship and Supreme GT Series. Drivers Wayne Taylor, Scott Sharp and Jim Pace scored their first victory in North America's biggest sports car race after completing 697 laps of Daytona's 3.56-mile course at an average speed of 103.324 mph. The victory marked the first time in three years of official competition that a World SportsCar had scored an overall victory in the Rolex 24. The closing moments of the race contained high drama. Italian Formula One driver Max Papis established the race lap record in the MOMO Ferrari just six laps from the end as he tried to catch Taylor. Third overall was decided on the last lap as Butch Hamlet's WSC Mazda Kudzu moved past Enzo Calderari's Exxon Supreme GTS-2 class winning Stadler Motorsport Porsche 911. Stadler's Ulrich Richter won the class for the third straight year while Lilian Bryner and Enzo Calderari won for the second straight year and fourth driver Ferdinand de Lesseps won for the first time in four Daytona appearances. Brix Racing's Oldsmobile Aurora won the Exxon Supreme GTS-1 division with a seventh place overall finish using drivers Irv Hoerr, Jon Gooding, Joe Pezza, Darin Brassfield and Charles and Rob Morgan. "With two and a half hours to go we had a four lap cushion," explained Taylor, who drove the race's final 70 minutes. "Max Papis was lapping at six seconds a lap quicker than us. We calculated that by the final lap he would be on the lead lap with us -- which he was. If a caution flag had come out in the final half hour he would have won. It was that close." "I thought at seven this morning that I was sick, that I wouldn't be able to get back into the car," Taylor described typical Rolex 24 feelings. "I feel fine now!" The MOMO team, especially owner/driver Gianpiero Moretti, took the loss hard. In the race's waning hours the Italian veteran noted to friends crowded in his pit area that "You don't know how much winning this race would mean to me." "It was very close," said Moretti at the finish. "It's never easy to lose and it's never easy to say that's racing.'" The battle started in pole qualifying when Belgian Didier Theys put the MOMO Ferrari on the pole with a Daytona WSC record lap of 1:41.224, an average speed of 126.610 mph. Taylor qualified .3 seconds behind to fill the front row of the 78-car grid. The 86- car entry was the largest for the Rolex 24 in a dozen years. The teams swapped the lead throughout the 24 hours. Doyle Racing took the lead for the last time at 8:55 a.m. and led for the final four hours and five minutes. The GTS-1 victory for Brix Racing and the debuting Oldsmobile Aurora marked the fourth win in 25 Daytona starts for team manager/driver Irv Hoerr. But, it was his first in the Rolex 24 and capped an incredible comeback. The team's second car, which Hoerr started, was eliminated by a fire. In the end, the team's win marked the third straight appearance in Daytona's Victory Lane for Brix Racing, which won the World SportsCar class in its first two years before shutting down that team. "The victory is nice," said Hoerr, the 1995 GTS-1 driving champion. "I found out one thing, there's a lot more worrying being a team manager rather than just a driver!" In the inaugural Daytona 90-minute IMSA Endurance Championship event on Feb. 2, John Heinricy and Stu Hayner finished just 1.04 seconds ahead of a Ford Mustang Cobra R driven by Joe Sulentic and Alex Caffi. They topped the 76-car field in a Pontiac Firebird Formula, averaged 77.897 mph and completed 33 laps. Speedweeks will conclude with the 38th Daytona 500 on Feb. 18. Camel Motorcycle Week, featuring the 55th Daytona 200 By Arai Superbike Classic, will be held March 1-10.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series IMSA Others
Drivers Scott Sharp , Max Papis , Wayne Taylor , John Heinricy , Darin Brassfield , Alex Caffi , Jim Pace , Stu Hayner , Enzo Calderari , Ferdinand de Lesseps , Gianpiero Moretti