2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona a 'finish for the ages' in GT-Daytona.
As the 2015 sports car season closes in and teams prepare once again to flock to “The World Center of Racing” for the Rolex 24 At Daytona, we take a look back at Level 5’s historic victory in one of the world’s most coveted endurance races.
The finish to the 2014 Rolex 24 At Daytona was a finish for the ages without a doubt. After some of the most dramatic closing laps in the history of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Level 5 Motorsports emerged victorious in the GTD class -- eventually.
It was the team’s debut race for its new Ferrari customer program, and just weeks after receiving the cars, drivers Scott Tucker, Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell, Jeff Segal and Alessandro Pier Guidi took the No. 555 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to Gatorade Victory Lane in the highly competitive GT Daytona (GTD) class, which was stacked with a 29-car starting field.
“The Rolex 24 meant everything to me as an American growing up racing sportscars,” said Jeffrey Segal. “It’s the most prestigious race and just to compete is a privilege. To win with a team like Level 5 and the driver lineup that we had, and for a manufacturer like Ferrari, celebrating their 60th year in North America, it was incredible.”
It was seasoned sports car driver Alessandro Pier Guidi that turned out to be one of the stars of the race, holding off the hard-charging No. 45 Audi of Flying Lizard Motorsports in the final laps and taking the checkered flag by a 1.3-second margin of victory.
“It was a really exciting two last laps of the race,” he said. “After 24 hours we were so tired, but we never gave up. Now I am here finally, and I am so happy and proud to have won the 24 Hours at Daytona.”
However, the on-track excitement was not the only drama that night, as a controversial penalty was assessed against Level 5 for "unnecessary contact" in the final laps and then, hours later, reversed after a review by IMSA.
Scott Tucker's 101st win
“It’s bittersweet that we weren’t part of the podium ceremony, but IMSA took a look at what actually happened, which was incredible racing in the last five minutes of this race,” said Sweedler. “Alessandro not only drove an incredibly clean race but didn’t give up, and frankly that’s what I believe IMSA and the TUDOR United SportsCar series is going to be all about as we move forward. I’m also really glad to share the win with these guys and to be part of Scott Tucker’s 101st win.”
It was the first Rolex 24 victory for all five drivers and the Madison, Wis.-based organization, giving Level 5 wins in all of the major North American endurance races, including four consecutive triumphs in both the 12 Hours of Sebring and Petit Le Mans.
It was a historic win for Ferrari as well, breaking a long winless streak at Daytona for the Italian manufacturer.
“Beginning the 60th anniversary of Ferrari North America with a win at the historic Rolex 24 at Daytona is simply incredible,” said Marco Mattiacci, President and CEO of Ferrari North America. “My congratulations go out to Scott Tucker and the Level 5 Motorsports team for their victory at Daytona.”
Ferrari will be well represented once again at the Rolex 24 At Daytona, returning teams in the GTLM and GTD classes like AF Corse and Scuderia Corsa.
Piloting the flagship No. 63 Ferrari for Scuderia Corsa will be two drivers from last year’s GTD-winning Level 5 lineup, Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell.
The 2015 Rolex 24 At Daytona is scheduled for Saturday, January 24, 2014 at 2:30 p.m. ET. For more information, visit www.imsa.com.