Rolex 24 update: Fernando Alonso, team lurking after six-hour mark
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a quarter of the way through the Rolex 24 At Daytona, marking the start of the 2019 Michelin Endurance Cup.
The Michelin Endurance Cup rewards points at intervals in the season’s four endurance races – the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advanced Auto Parts, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
At the Rolex 24 At Daytona, points are given at the six-, 12-, 18- and 24-hour marks. The leading car and drivers in each class earn five points; second place earns four points, third place earns three points; and the remaining teams earn two.
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Leading at the quarter mark in the DPi class was the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac-V.R. The defending Prototype championship team was awarded the maximum five points, along with drivers Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Eric Curran.
Following suit with four points was the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi for Jordan Taylor, Renger van der Zande, Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi. With three points in the first interval was Acura Team Penske’s No. 6 machine with drivers Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud.
In the LMP2 class, Dragonspeed’s pair of teams took the top two spots in the first mark of the Michelin Endurance Cup. The No. 18 ORECA LMP2 with Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastien Saavedra and Ryan Cullen were awarded five points while teammates Henrik Hedman, Ben Hanley, Nicolas Lapierre and James Allen in the No. 81 earned four points.
Performance Tech Motorsports in the No. 38 ORECA LMP2 finished third in class during the first interval, earning three points.
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The GT Le Mans (GTLM) class has been a fierce battle since the green flag dropped, at one point featuring five different manufacturers in the top five. Coming out on top at the six-hour mark, though, was the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler for five points.
The prancing red No. 62 Ferrari for Risi Competizione was running second at the first interval to earn four points for drivers Davide Rigon, Miguel Molina, Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado. Awarded three points and sporting a historic livery to join in the IMSA 50th Anniversary Celebration was the No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR.
Lastly in GT Daytona (GTD), it was Riley Motorsports picking up where it left off. After winning its second consecutive Michelin Endurance Cup in 2018, the team took the top spot at the six-hour mark to earn five points for Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen, Luca Stolz and Felipe Fraga in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3.
In second came Daniel Morad, Christopher Mies, Ricky Feller and Dries Vanthoor in the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 for four points. Earning three points was the all-female team of Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, Ana Beatriz and Simona De Silvestro in the No. 57 Heinricher Racing w/ Meyer Shank Racing.
Alonso, a two-time Formula 1 champion, powered the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. into the lead during his evening stint at the Rolex 24. After taking over for Jordan Taylor, Alonso maintained the lead and turned the car over to Kobayashi. Van der Zande will take the fourth stint.
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“I like sports car racing,” said Alonso following his stint. “The nature of these endurance races, it’s quite fun to experience. There are no two laps the same.”
Alex Zanardi was behind the wheel of the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE when the car stopped coming out of the pits nearly three hours into the race. His steering wheel’s connection with the car was disrupted and the team brought the car into the garage. The No. 24 finished the first segment ninth in class.
Following his stint, Zanardi said to the media center, “Even if it ended like this, I will not regret it.”
The defending GTLM champions, the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing, experienced a tumultuous Rolex 24 just six hours into the race. After getting hit by its sister car, the No. 4 Corvette, in the pits on the right front side of the car, the team was also penalized later after a caution for improperly serving its emergency service obligation. The No. 3 finished seventh in class at the six-hour mark.
The No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 suffered a lengthy three-minute, 40-second penalty while leading the GTD class for an improper final wave-by. The car was able to remain on the lead lap but finished 16th at the quarter mark.
The Rolex 24 is currently airing on NBCSN through 3 a.m. ET, just past the halfway mark of the race. Coverage will move to the NBC Sports App until 6 a.m., before finishing on NBCSN.
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