Daytona International Speedway, Sunday 29 January 2017 – No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.R won the 55th edition of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA this afternoon, completing 659 laps of the famous Daytona International Speedway. Ricky Taylor took the chequered flag first after a testing 24 hours ensuring that he and his team mates, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and NASCAR legend, Jeff Gordon, were awarded the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA trophy and a specially engraved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona. Captivating, spectacular and extremely demanding, the ‘Rolex 24’ is one of few motor sport events in the world to test the ultimate limits of man and machine, all against the clock.
Hurley Haywood, five-time winner of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA, waved the green flag at 14:30 local time on Saturday, officially marking the start of America’s famous race. The Cadillac Prototype trio of the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing, #10 and #5 Mustang Sampling Racing set the pace from the beginning before early favourite, #31, suffered steering issues in the eighth hour. As darkness fell the rain began to fall and a bitter cold set in, making the track treacherous and demanding the utmost concentration from the teams.
In the early hours of Sunday morning with the extreme conditions refusing to let up, the field experienced two extended hour-long safety car periods, underlining the true attritional nature of this test of endurance. The cars competing this year are the most technologically advanced of this era; every lap is a learning experience for teams who are pushed to the limits. With three hours remaining, and finally a dry track, the Prototype (P) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) winners were far from decided with multiple cars on the lead lap. Counting down the final minutes on the Rolex clock, the race went down to the wire with a thrilling battle between the leading Cadillacs; ultimately the #10 took the lead from the #5 with a legal and robust move into turn 1 with only moments to go. Throughout the 24 hours the #10 successfully answered everything its rivals, nature and time could test it with and deservingly took the chequered flag by only 0.671 seconds from its sister car.
#66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing took victory in a very competitive GT Le Mans class having battled until the closing minutes of the race with the second place #911 Porsche GT Team holding off #62 Risi Competizione. #38 Performance Tech Motorsports won the Prototype Challenge (PC) title and #28 Alegra Motorsports the GT Daytona (GTD) class.
Forty-one of the 55 race starters made it to the finish, further exemplifying the punishing nature of this two-lap test of the clock. The 3.56-mile circuit demands a unique combination of resilience, skill and awareness, as well as reliability and performance, proving there are two types of winners at the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA: those who win and those who cross the finish line after 24 hours.
2017 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA winner Ricky Taylor demonstrated that every second counts and said: “After an intense race in tough conditions, it is such a relief to stand in Victory Lane as winners of ‘The Rolex’. We take part in this race with the dream of winning the 24-hour marathon but also of one day putting a Rolex Daytona on our wrists. It really is the ultimate reward in motor sport and a reminder of our success. I’m very proud to be added to the accomplished list of Rolex 24 At Daytona winners.”
Hurley Haywood, one of the greatest endurance racing drivers of all time, said: “This Rolex 24 has been one of the most challenging races we have seen here in Daytona, which makes the win even more rewarding. Racing for 24 hours puts extreme demands on both teams and drivers and pushes them to the absolute limit, so there is no question today that the race winners have earned their specially engraved Rolex Daytona watch – the experience is something that stays with a driver forever.”
ROLEX AND DAYTONA
Rolex’s connection to Daytona harks back to an even earlier time when Daytona Beach was considered the capital of land speed records in the early 20th century. The long, flat and very firm Daytona Beach played host to 14 land speed records in the early part of the 20th century – five of which were set by Sir Malcolm Campbell, including the fastest official record there of 276mph in 1935 at the wheel of his mighty Bluebird with a Rolex on his wrist. In 1992 Rolex formalized this long-standing association with Daytona and the Speedway becoming the Official Timepiece and Title Sponsor of the 24-hour Daytona classic, further strengthening the link between the race and the Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. After 25 years, the brand is now so closely tied to the event that motor sport aficionados simply refer to it as “The Rolex”.
Rolex, the leading brand of the Swiss watch industry, is headquartered in Geneva and enjoys an unrivalled reputation for quality and expertise the world over. Its Oyster watches, all certified as Superlative Chronometers for their precision, performance and reliability, are symbols of excellence, elegance and prestige. Founded by Hans Wilsdorf in 1905, the brand pioneered the development of the wristwatch and is at the origin of numerous major watchmaking innovations, such as the Oyster, the first waterproof wristwatch, launched in 1926, and the Perpetual rotor self-winding mechanism invented in 1931. Rolex has registered over 400 patents in the course of its history. A truly integrated and independent manufacturing company, Rolex designs, develops and produces all the essential components of its watches in-house, from the casting of the gold alloys to the machining, crafting, assembly and finishing of the movement, case, dial and bracelet. Rolex is also actively involved in supporting the arts, sports, exploration, the spirit of enterprise, and the environment through a broad palette of sponsoring activities, as well as philanthropic programmes.