For Penske, Cameron, Risi and Ferrari, the Wait for a Daytona Victory Is Finally Over
By Tony DiZinno
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The late Tom Petty famously sung that the waiting was the hardest part. The lyrics could be applicable to four of this year’s winners in the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
Penske, Cameron Ascend to Overall Spoils
There aren’t many boxes left for Roger Penske’s eponymous team to tick, but another overall win at the Rolex 24 was overdue for an encore on the legendary track’s stage.
The last time a Penske entry won overall at Daytona was in 1969, when Mark Donohue and Chuck Parsons captured the flag in their No. 6 Lola T70 Chevrolet. That marked the first win for Chevrolet in an international endurance race.
Some 55 years later, the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport Porsche 963 beat a manufacturer from Detroit, the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R for both the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) and overall victories.
“Both of our Porsches had great speed but more importantly, the reliability and the execution by our team allowed us to secure the overall win for the first time since 1969,” Penske said.
Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell, Dane Cameron and Josef Newgarden steered the No. 7 Porsche to victory.
Cameron is a three-time IMSA champion but had never finished better than fourth at Daytona since his maiden attempt in 2009.
While fighting through tears in the winning pit box, he also hailed the efforts of his former Acura Team Penske engineer-turned-Porsche Penske Motorsport Managing Director, Jonathan Diuguid, and additional engineer Raul Prados with whom he’s worked closely.
“Fifteen years … it’s been so long with all these guys, and I was starting to think it was never going to happen,” Cameron said.
“My (former) engineer is the manager of the whole program now. Fifteen years is a lot of laps around here trying to get this done. It’s amazing.”
Risi, Ferrari Spearhead a Big Race for the Brand
The drought dam broke in Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO), too, for both Risi Competizione and Ferrari. James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, Daniel Serra and Davide Rigon shared the class-winning No. 62 Ferrari 296 GT3.
While Risi held a prior class win in the former SRP II class in 2002 as a co-entrant in a Lola B2K/40 Nissan, it had not captured a win on its own or with a Ferrari in roughly 25 years of trying at Daytona.
“It’s a very special win for us,” team principal Giuseppe Risi told IMSA Radio. “We’ve been trying for up to 25 years. We’ve had five second-place finishes. It’s great to be here; I’ve always believed that IMSA is the best sports car series in the world.”
The win was a banner one for Ferrari as well, after a starring role from most of its 296 GT3 entries. The brand secured the GTD PRO win with Risi and a pair of podiums in the GTD class, courtesy of AF Corse and Conquest Racing finishing second and third.
It also capped an incredible 10-month run in major 24-hour endurance races for Ferrari, as the brand also won the 24 Hours of Nurburgring in May and the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in June. That Le Mans triumph was Ferrari’s first overall win there since 1965.
The Risi GTD PRO win was Ferrari’s first in any class at Daytona since 2014, and the 10th for the brand in this race. Somewhat fittingly, Pier Guidi was part of that 2014 victory too, in a Ferrari 458 Italia.
“If you see in the footage after the checkered flag and the picture is amazing,” Pier Guidi said. “Everyone was crying, happy, and I went and I gave a big hug to Giuseppe, because all the passion he put in here in this effort, he really deserved this.”
Both he and Calado were part of both the Le Mans win with AF Corse and the Daytona win with Risi.
“It’s even difficult to dream, and we did it,” he reflected. “Six months ago, we achieved this amazing historic victory in Le Mans, and now we are back here with Risi and Ferrari to complete another 24, to achieve another amazing success.”
Leave it to longtime Risi engineer Rick Mayer, who added another bit of poetry to the Risi Ferrari story.
“This year was the 62nd running of the Rolex 24 with the (No.) 62 car, so that was a special thing for Giuseppe,” Mayer said. “We had four fantastic drivers. The crew prepared a great car, and we had some luck and things went our way. Sometimes that’s what it takes to win.
“I’m happy for Giuseppe because he’s wanted to win this race again for a very long time.”