The Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona 2017 was held January 28-29 at the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. The 12-turn, 3.56-mile track is made up of portions of the NASCAR tri-oval and an infield road course. As the race began the teams and drivers set out to go the furthest in 24 grueling hours.
The No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.R won the 55th edition of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, completing 659 laps of the famous Speedway in Florida. Ricky Taylor took the checkered flag first after a testing 24 hours ensuring that he and his team mates, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon, were awarded the trophy and a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona.
Hurley Haywood, five-time winner of the Daytona 24 Hours, waved the green flag at 14:30 local time on Saturday, January 28th, officially marking the start of America’s famous race. The Cadillac Prototype trio of the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing, #10 and #5 Mustang Sampling Racing set the pace from the beginning before early favorite, #31, suffered steering issues in the eighth hour. As darkness fell the rain began to fall and a bitter cold set in, making the track treacherous and demanding the utmost concentration from the teams.
In the early hours of Sunday morning with the extreme conditions refusing to let up, the field experienced two extended hour-long safety car periods, underlining the true attritional nature of this test of endurance. The cars competing this year are among the most technologically advanced of this era; every lap is a learning experience for teams who are pushed to the limits. With three hours remaining, and finally a dry track, the Prototype (P) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) winners were far from decided with multiple cars on the lead lap. Counting down the final minutes on the Rolex clock, the race went down to the wire with a thrilling battle between the leading Cadillacs; ultimately the #10 took the lead from the #5 with a legal and robust move into turn 1 with only moments to go. Throughout the 24 hours the #10 successfully answered everything its rivals, nature and time could test it with and deservingly took the checkered flag by only 0.671 seconds from its sister car.
Overall Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona 2017 winner Ricky Taylor said: “After an intense race in tough conditions, it is such a relief to stand in Victory Lane as winners of ‘The Rolex’. We take part in this race with the dream of winning the 24-hour marathon but also of one day putting a Rolex Daytona on our wrists. It really is the ultimate reward in motor sport and a reminder of our success. I’m very proud to be added to the accomplished list of Rolex 24 At Daytona winners.”
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took victory in a very competitive GT Le Mans class having battled until the closing minutes of the race with the second place #911 Porsche 911 RSR holding off #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE. #38 Performance Tech Motorsports won the Prototype Challenge (PC) title and #28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R won the GT Daytona (GTD) class.
Forty-one of the 55 race starters made it to the finish, further exemplifying the punishing nature of this test of the clock. The 3.56-mile circuit demands a combination of resilience, skill and awareness, as well as reliability and performance, proving there are two types of winners at the Rolex 24 of Daytona — those who win and those who cross the finish line after 24 hours.
Racing great Hurley Haywood, said: “This Rolex 24 has been one of the most challenging races we have seen here in Daytona, which makes the win even more rewarding. Racing for 24 hours puts extreme demands on both teams and drivers and pushes them to the absolute limit, so there is no question today that the race winners have earned their specially engraved Rolex Daytona watch – the experience is something that stays with a driver forever.”
Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona 2017 – Photo Gallery (click image for larger picture)
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[Source: Rolex Motorsports; photos: Mark Coughlin; Porsche; Ferrari; Richard Prince/Cadillac; BMW; Ford; Mazda; Acura; Nissan]