In an endurance race, the fastest car doesn’t always win, which proved true during Friday’s BMW Endurance Challenge At Daytona, where the clear early favorites were the new Ford Mustangs. In qualifying, Dean Martin put the No. 59 on the pole with a best lap around the 3.56-mile Daytona International Speedway of 1 minute, 55.754 seconds.
And in the race itself, veteran Ford racer Scott Maxwell held the fastest lap in the No. 15 Mustang at 1:55.572. But after a grueling four hours, the No. 15 Multimatic Mustang ended up fifth, and the No. 59 KohR Motorsports Mustang finished a distant 28th after suffering a powertrain failure early on.
In the end, Porsche seized the day, taking the top four spots in the Grand Sport class in the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge. The winner was the No. 12 Bodymotion Porsche Cayman GT4 of Trent Hindman and Cameron Cassels, with Hindman behind the wheel at the end as he nipped the No. 33 CJ Wilson Racing Porsche of Marc Miller, who co-drove with Till Bechtolsheimer, by a narrow 0.577 seconds.
Third was the No. 35 Porsche – the other CJ Wilson car, owned by the Major League Baseball player – driven by Russell Ward and Damien Faulkner. Fourth was yet another Porsche Cayman GT4, this one the No. 28 RS1 entry driven by Dillon Machavern and Dylan Murcott.
Cassels, who started the No. 12 Porsche before Hindman took over, has never raced at the track. “To come here and win Daytona – how crazy is that?” he asked.
Hindman has raced here three times with no wins – “I guess the third time’s the charm,” he said. The car had multiple problems in the Roar Before the Rolex 24 test earlier this month, and it was a thrash to prepare it for the race.
“Hard work by the Bodymotion guys is what got us here,” Hindman said, who is doing double duty this weekend as one of five drivers in the No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports Prototype Challenge car for the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
In the Street Tuner class, it was a record first win for the MINI JCW team, which has come close in its Mini Coopers, but finally took the checkered at Daytona.
The win came as a bit of a surprise to the drivers of the No. 73 entry, Derek Jones and Mat Pombo. Anyone who has seen a Mini Cooper, compared to the three Porsche Caymans that finished second through fourth, knows that the boxy Mini isn’t the most aerodynamic choice. “It isn’t the most ‘aero’ car for Daytona, so this is a little unexpected,” said Jones.
As for Pombo, a member of a well-regarded racing family, “I’ve always had horrendous luck at Daytona,” he said. “This is a really big win for our group. To finally get one, and get it at Daytona, is fantastic.”
Pombo crossed the finish line 1.568 seconds ahead of the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman of Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing. In third was the No. 17 RS1 Cayman of defending class champions Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante. Fourth was the team RS1 Cayman, the No. 18 driven by Aurora Straus, Nick Longhi and Connor Bloum, who had qualified the car on pole.
The most serious incident of the race occurred when Nico Rondet’s No. 77 McLaren GT4 began leaking fluid on the track, causing multiple cars to spin out as Rondet limped to a pull-off spot. The yellow flag flew for a lengthy caution as the track crew cleaned up the fluid before the restart.
View full results via Al Kamel Systems at Results.IMSA.com
The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge is back in action at the Sebring 150 at Sebring International Raceway in Florida on March 17. The BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona will be broadcast on FS1 on a tape-delayed basis on Sunday, Feb. 12 at 1:30 p.m. ET.