#10: Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz, Brendon Hartley, #7: Porsche Penske Motorsports, Porsche 963, GTP: Matt Campbell, Felipe Nasr, Michael Christensen, #01: Cadillac Racing, Cadillac V-LMDh, GTP: Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon

Takeaways from the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona

The 61st Running of the Twice-Around-the-Clock Endurance Classic was one for the Record Books


By David Phillips


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The highly anticipated 61st Rolex 24 At Daytona is in the books and it’s fair to say the race exceeded expectations.


There was a record crowd on hand to witness the largely flawless debut for the ultra-complex Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) hybrids, a photo finish in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) and the typically fierce, deep and unpredictable competition among a bevy of marques in the two Grand Touring (GT) classes – the competitors in the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship delivered quite a show.


With 45 finishers from 61 starters and five class winners, there are a plethora of stories (and potential takeaways). Without diminishing James Allen’s breathtaking pass of Ben Hanley at the checkered flag to grab the LMP2 laurels (not to mention Proton Competition’s outstanding effort repairing the victorious No. 55 ORECA after a practice mishap) or AWA’s dominant LMP3 win, allow me to offer this trio of takeaways.


Tip of the Hat


A tip of the hat to Acura, BMW, Cadillac, Porsche, their teams and drivers for an unexpectedly smooth debut of the GTP class. After roughly 18 months to build out their hybrid prototypes, eight of the nine GTPs were running at the end of 24 hours, headed by the top two Acura ARX-06s and two Cadillac V-LMDhs in P3 and P4, all on the lead lap. Sure, the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 finished 100+ laps down after issues with the spec hybrid powertrain and the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports Porsche 963 did not finish after suffering a broken gearbox.


But an 89 percent finishing rate would be an outstanding record for any class in any 24-hour race, let alone one featuring such complex vehicles in their competition debut. With seven weeks before they race again, the teams and manufacturers will have plenty of learnings from the Rolex 24 to use in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.


Of course, a dozen hours of racing on the rough ’n tumble runways, taxiways and macadam of Sebring International Raceway is every bit, if not more, demanding than 24 hours at Daytona International Speedway. But if the remarkable debut of the GTPs is any indication, Round 2 of the 2023 WeatherTech Championship should be every bit as compelling as the first.


Winners #60: Meyer Shank Racing W/Curb-Agajanian, Acura ARX-06, GTP: Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, podium


Passing the Torch?


As television viewers were regularly reminded, the days when Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian could be considered a “little team” are long gone. The No. 60 MSR Acura led the race early, often and late; in other words, just about any time they darn well pleased.


For those keeping score, this makes back-to-back Rolex 24 wins for the Ohio-based team and its third overall, which dovetails with its 2022 Daytona Prototype international class championship and the 2019 and 2020 GT Daytona (GTD) crowns . . . not to mention the 2021 Indianapolis 500.


So, while preseason talk focused on the coming epic showdown between the teams of the reigning titans of American motorsports – Chip Ganassi and Roger Penske – it was the one owned by Mike Shank and partner Jim Meyer that took home the honors . . . and gave at least one observer pause to ponder this: Roger Penske was born in 1937 and dominated American racing in his 40s, 50s and 60s. Chip Ganassi was born in 1958 and rose to challenge Penske and, yes, dominate American racing in his 40s, 50s and 60s. Born in 1966, Shank is mounting an increasingly formidable challenge to the Penske/Ganassi domination of sports cars and Indy cars. Is he poised to become the next team owner to dominate American racing?


#3: Corvette Racing, Corvette C8.R GTD, GTD PRO: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Tommy Milner

GTD’s Big Picture


Kudos to Mercedes/WeatherTech Racing and Aston Martin/Heart of Racing Team on their wins in GTD PRO and GTD respectively. But in terms of the big picture, Corvette Racing is the manufacturer that announced its intentions to be a force in GT racing this season and in years to come last week.


After a comparatively disappointing GTD PRO campaign last year, the No. 3 Corvette C8.R GTD gave the GTD PRO competition all they could handle in the Rolex 24 before settling for what, under the circumstances, was a disappointing runner-up finish.


That’s encouraging evidence that Corvette Racing put the lessons learned last year campaigning a C8.R born and bred for the discontinued GTLM class to good use and will be a force to be reckoned with in their sophomore season of GTD PRO. What’s more, the unveiling of Corvette’s Z06 GT3.R is ample evidence of GM’s commitment to GT racing – and a tantalizing glimpse into the future, not only for Corvette Racing in GTD PRO, but for what one must imagine will be a host of GTD teams looking to campaign the new ‘Vette in seasons to come.