DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FNN SPORTS) – Luis Felipe Derani turned in a dominant final driving stint on Sunday, delivering a Rolex 24 At Daytona championship to Tequila Patrón ESM Racing at Daytona International Speedway.
Derani was joined in Gatorade Victory Lane by co-drivers Scott Sharp, Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown, who combined efforts in the No. 2 Honda Ligier JS P2 entry in the race’s headlining Prototype class. It marked the first victory in the Rolex 24 for a Honda-powered car. For Sharp, it was a second Rolex 24 triumph, following up on his 1996 championship.
Derani crossed the finish line 26.166 seconds of the No. 10 Corvette DP of Wayne Taylor Racing driven by Max Angelelli. Brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor of Apopka and Rubens Barrichello. Finishing third was the No. 90 Corvette DP of VisitFlorida Racing, co-driven by Ryan Dalziel of Orlando, Ryan Hunter-Reay and Marc Goossens.
It was the first sports car race in America for Derani, a 22-year-old from São Paulo, Brazil who originally had dreams of a Formula One career before focusing on endurance sports car racing.
“I want to thank my team for the amazing car they gave me,” said Derani, who ignored an in-car alarm during the last hour, racing on and hoping for the best.
“I was just asking the car to not give up on me,” Derani said.
Over the 24 hour-span, the top-three finishing teams completed 736 laps around the 3.56-mile DIS road course – a total of 2,620.16 miles, the approximate distance from Daytona Beach to Bakersfield, California.
The Rolex 24 At Daytona is the annual twice-around-the-clock, season-opening event for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The Rolex 24 dates to 1962 with an original three-hour incarnation won by legendary driver Dan Gurney – the start of a progression to its current status as North America’s premier sports car race of international renown.
This latest edition of the endurance classic also will be remembered for early-race problems experienced by a number of top contenders, including two big Prototype favorites. The defending race-winning No. 02 Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, of Chip Ganassi Racing, went out with a break problem eight hours into the race on Saturday night, running second at the time with IndyCar star Tony Kanaan at the wheel. An hour later, the No. 60 Honda Ligier JS P2 from Michael Shank Racing pulled off with engine problems while leading the race. Then, midday Sunday, the No. 02 had break woes again, with NASCAR regular Kyle Larson crashing as a result and putting the car out for good.
In addition to the Prototype class, three other classes competed in the Rolex 24. Those results:
· GT Le Mans: A back-and-forth duel between familiar Corvette Racing entries produced a spectacular last hour in a class that is both production-based and exotic. At the finish, Oliver Gavin, driving the No. 4 Corvette C7.R, nipped teammate Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 by a scant .034 seconds.
· GT Daytona: In the WeatherTech Championship’s other production-based class, Andy Lally, Rene Rast, Marco Seefried and John Potter took the win for Magnus Racing in the No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3.
· Prototype Challenge: Chris Miller, Stephen Simpson, Misha Goikhberg and Kenton Koch co-drove the No. 85 ORECA FLM09 to the victory for JDC-Miller Motorsports.
Willie David is a photographer, writer, and videographer for Florida National News. firstname.lastname@example.org @Fnnsocial