BMW and Chevrolet duked it out for honors after a phenomenal lead battle.
Daytona Beach, Fla - After an amazing and sometimes hectic battle for honors in the LMGT class, in which all the lead protagonists took turns at the front of the pack at some point, it was Corvette Racing's Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe who came out on top.
BMW took the fight to Chevrolet with its car crewed by Bill Auberlen, Dirk Werner, Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler, but despite setbacks when Auberlen collided with Porsche's Nick Tandy, and Spengler suffering a bodywork-damaging off at the Bus Stop on Sunday morning, the car remained right in the hunt until the chequered flag.
The car came alive ... Everybody in the crew performed perfectly. We were fast, no mistakes, pushed when we had to
Driver Jan Magnussen
Spengler’s spectacular off started when he lost it on the way into the corner, swiping the rear bumper off at the second apex, mowing down a Rolex banner and then ploughing through the grass at the bottom of the banking that ripped off a chunk of front bodywork.
Werner actually led with two hours to go, but a disastrous pitstop with 90 minutes remaining led to the left-rear wheel spinning wildly before it was properly attached. The car battled back, and finished right in the tracks of the Corvette across the finish line, as the final yellow flag setup a grandstand finish.
Sprint to the finish
“I knew that yellow was coming!" laughed Garcia. "We always have a yellow. My team-mates were amazing, and not a single touch on the car. We kept it alive and brought it home. I finally get this watch!"
Magnussen added: “It’s a fantastic feeling. The car came alive, and we were in with a good shot. Everybody in the crew performed perfectly. We were fast, no mistakes, pushed when we had to and were relaxed when we needed to be.”
Briscoe said: “It’s just unbelievable, this team has worked so hard, such a hard fought race. It was so much fun the car was amazing, it’s a very deserving team. We were trying to stay out of trouble, there was a lot of action around me, but the Corvette was really fast.”
No. 4's troubles
The No.4 Chevy went out of the equation with three hours to go, losing four laps when Tommy Milner, who had just take the lead of the class at a restart, hit a wayward RG Racing Riley DP car accelerating onto the banking exiting Turn Six. It required a new front body section.
Team-mate Oliver Gavin had suffered a similar scare on Sunday morning when he locked up and hit another car just after a restart, which meant a shorter repair to the front-left corner of his car.
“It was a bit of a crazy restart, just trying to get heat in cold tyres, I was trying to catch the #3 car, got a bit too deep into Turn 6, got into the back of an LMPC car,” said Gavin. “I had my head in my hands after that, but the team saved me, and we managed to get ourselves back on the lead lap.”
Disaster for Porsche
Porsche suffered a disaster when its cars collided on half distance during Saturday night, as Earl Bamber went off avoiding a wayward GTD-class Aston Martin, lost control on the grass and slammed into Marc Lieb.
That left marque honors to the Falken Tire car, but that was sidelined with a crank failure on Sunday morning when running in the top three.
With the sole Aston Martin being substantially delayed after Paul Dalla Lana spun at Turn One and damaged the car’s driveline as he rejoined, it lost over 100 laps.