Daytona Beach, Fla. (27 January 2020) – It was a picture perfect day at Daytona this Sunday as the checkered flag flew on a record-setting Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Continuing to prove itself in competition all around the globe, AERO™ Sustainable Paint technology was once again well represented on the 2020 Rolex 24 grid. The innovative paint technology has continued to grow its paddock presence as teams recognize the advantages that come from utilizing the lightweight application.
The competition was fierce in all four classes of IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar competition. With an all-time 833 lap distance record that followed a race that was slowed just five times for caution periods, the Rolex Daytona Chronographs went to those that were able to find the margin at the finish.
Where rain and changing conditions were the key challenge for teams in the 2019 edition of the Rolex 24, the 58th running of the event instead featured dry conditions, and an unrelenting pace.
The closest battle of all was the one for the GTLM title, as the huge factory efforts put on a stellar show with the top four cars all in the same camera shot for most of the 24 hour race. In the end, it was the BMW Team RLL squad that scored a second consecutive victory in the huge race as the team crossed the line just a handful of seconds ahead of the dual factory Porsche 911s that had given pursuit all day and night long.
After 24-hours of battling for position on the 3.56-mile course, the striking AERO Piano Black, BMW Red and BMW Blue No. 24 BMW M8 GTE of BMW Team RLL took the highest honors – crossing the finish line leading the GTLM field.
The sister BMW that had won in 2019 in the classic white, blue and red AERO liveried No. 25, finished fifth place with drivers Colton Herta, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, and Bruno Spengler. The foursome suffered early electrical issues caused by rogue debris, but endured to complete the endurance event.
“Whoever thought we were just lucky to win last year were shown otherwise today,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal BMW Team RLL. “That was a battle for 24 hours. The drivers did a fantastic job, and the same goes for the crew. We did not make any mistakes. I feel sorry for the guys in the #25 car, as they would also have finished further up the field without the incident. On the whole, I am delighted for my team and BMW Motorsport. Congratulations to Porsche and Corvette, who were good from the word go with their new cars. We are simply very happy today.”
“I am very rarely speechless – but that is the case today,” said driver John Edwards. “I had every faith in Jesse bringing it home at the end. And he did it. It was a really hard fight, as always in the GTLM class. The many battles were extremely tiring, particularly during my triple stint. This is definitely the biggest success of my career. I’m overjoyed.”
Corvette Racing debuted the new-for-2020 Corvette C8.R in two entries – the No. 3 of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, and Nicky Catsburg and the No. 4 of Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner and Marcel Fassler. The revolutionary new platform utilizes a mid-engine format for the first time in the history of the brand. Also new is the splitting of liveries, as one retains the familiar Corvette Racing yellow, while the second entry boasts a grey scheme, both with AERO™ film-based paint.
The iconic Corvette yellow of the No. 3 saw early contact with a GTD car, spinning off course in Turn 1. Prepped for the long run, the trio quickly recovered to remain in contention for a podium finish. Taking the checkered flag, the No. 3 finished 4th.
Faced with an oil leak, the silver No. 4 was forced to go back to the garage for an extended repair period to replace the engine. Determination was key for the Corvette crew who returned to on-track action to complete the 58th Running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.
No. 55 SoulRed Mazda Perseveres
The No. 55 Mazda Motorsports AERO Soul Red Mazda RT24-P of Johnathan Bommarito, Harry Ticknell, and Ryan Hunter-Reay fought hurdle after hurdle to complete their 823-lap race. The crystal red paint shined as the driver trio recovered from early contact with another DPi competitor to finish the journey cleanly. The 6th place finish lays the foundation for a championship points run into the rest of the 2020 season.
“Overall, it was an amazing 24 hours,” said Bommarito. “Our No. 55 Mazda red car finished the race even though we did have our ups-and-downs. We got good points out of this race to set us up well for the rest of the year. You see a lot of tears and sweat from every member of the crew because it is such a draining experience. There is so much hard work and dedication that goes into it all.”
AERO and Mazda Motorsports have forged a partnership to showcase the automotive staple’s brand in fitting the prototype with advanced paint technology.
“AERO has done a fantastic job working with Mazda Team Joest,” said Jonathan Applegate (Program Manager for Mazda Motorsport). “They do a fantastic job understanding Mazda and understanding what we need. The Soul Red Crystal is taken very seriously with a multi-stage process on the production side so we try to do the same thing with our race cars. AERO has made an incredible product and the Soul Red Crystal is a standout on track. that looks and feels like the true Soul Red Crystal and that tells the brand’s story within itself. AERO matches the superior quality that Mazda has for our brand vehicles and race cars.”
Scuderia Corsa Finishes Seventh
The stunning AERO Bianca Neve livery of the No. 63 WeatherTech Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 Evo 2020 Cooper MacNeil, Jeff Westphal, Alessandro Balzan and Toni Vilander executed through 24-hours of on-track battles with the latest evolution of the Ferrari GT3 platform as it made its North American debut. Fighting to the top of the GTD field, Vilander took the Ferrari machine to the line at the checkered flag in 7th.
“The No. 63 team gave us a great car,” said Westphal. “We fell into a good pattern once we found the right balance. With changing conditions, 24 hours takes a toll on not only you but the car. The Ferrari kit is a stunning car and I feel so lucky to have the chance to drive it around a place like Daytona.”
Friday saw the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge field take the green flag for the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona. The four-hour event featured AERO liveries through the GS and TCR classes.
The classic Fluorescent Green and Graphite Gray AERO livery No. 39 Audi R8 GT GT4 of CarBahn with Peregrine Racing kicked off the weekend strong, qualifying in the front row. Through 4-hours of intense, action-packed racing the teammates of Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal – who was competing double-duty in both IMSA events – fought near the front – never dropping out of the top five. Crossing the finish line, the driver duo concluded the day in fourth.
Starting on the TCR class pole was the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo. The AERO-liveried Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR battled through mechanical issues to finish the day 13th. The No. 89 HART Honda Civic TCR stood out on the grid in the red and white livery. Starting from 16th, the team battled tooth and nail until having to retire early due to terminal damage.
The IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge head to Sebring International Raceway for Round 2 of the 2020 season.