JANUARY 25, 2015
Endurance is defined as the ability to do something difficult for a long time, or the quality of continuing for a long time, and a high-speed example has been under way for 21+ hours at Daytona International Speedway. There, at 1410 EST on 24 January, the green flag signaled 53 starters to begin their quest to win the 53rd edition of Rolex 24 At Daytona. The Sunshine State has delivered during the daylight hours, but during the 13 overnight racing hours, temperatures dropped to unusual lows in the 40s, which is far less than the optimum temperatures race car tires require for best performance. The loss of grip resulting from the cold creates a sliding effect that impacts negotiating the 12 tight turns on the 3.56 mile course.
The pressure over the race has led to the attrition of more than a quarter of the starters – not unusual given the magnitude of the challenge. And with the finish line in sight, race strategy is critical. This is not the place to make many gains, but definitely the place where the race can be lost.
After his stint in the #02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP, American driver Kyle Larson remarked that, after a tough race in 2014, he enjoyed the race a lot more this year and can’t wait to get back next year.
“I felt really good driving during the night, in fact I had the fastest lap on our team,” said the 22-year old Larson, who had taken over the lead with 625 laps completed. “There was a lot of pressure for me on this last stint with less than three hours to go. My main goal was to not make any mistakes and turn the car over to Scott Dixon in good condition so he can take it to the finish and hopefully for the win.”
Tight finishes appear to be in the cards for all four classes. In the Prototype Challenge class, Canada’s Mark Wilkins was leading the field, in the #54 CORE Autosport Oreca FLM09, with Andrew Palmer in close pursuit in the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09.
In the GTLM class, it will be another close call as Denmark’s Jan Magnussen in the #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R had only two tenths of a second on the #25 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE driven by Brazil’s Augusto Farfus.
The GT Daytona class was being led by the #93 Riley Motorsports Viper SRT driven by Canada’s Kuno Wittmer followed by American driver Leh Keen in the #22 Alex Job Racing Weather Tech Porsche 911 GT America.