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Rolex Shaping Up As Ford Vs. Chevrolet Power

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 25 2015

The No. 10 Corvette Prototype led the Rolex 24 heading into its final three hours Sunday morning.

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When dawn broke at Daytona International Speedway on Sunday, it was a battle between Chevrolet and Ford power that was the big story in the Rolex 24.

At the 18-hour mark of the race, which came just after 8 a.m., the Chevrolet Corvette Daytona Prototypes of Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing were running first and second. Right behind, on the same lap, were the Ford-powered Rileys of Chip Ganassi Racing.

Driving the lead car – which was also the defending champion car – was Joao Barbosa. Jordan Taylor was driving the second-place car.

Tony Kanaan was at the wheel of the No. 02 Ganassi car, which was running third, while Scott Pruett was driving the No. 01 Ganassi car.

Only those four cars were on the lead lap in the prototype class.

As the morning went on, the No. 01 car began to lose ground to the three DPs in front of it. With 4:45.00 left in the race, the No. 01, still with Pruett driving, was 7 seconds behind leader Barbosa in the No. 5 Corvette.

With 4 hours, 20 minutes to go, the lead car of Barbosa and No. 10 of Taylor head to the pits nose to tail. As they headed to pit entry, Taylor moved low and pulled event and then just ahead. Barbosa, whose pit stop was just inside pit entry, swerved right and clipped the tail of Taylor’s car.

Taylor exited the pits ahead of Barbosa and when the two Ganassi cars pitted shortly afterward, the Wayne Taylor Racing ‘Vette had the lead.

During its pit stop, the third-place No. 02 Ganassi car had trouble during a driver change. When new driver Kyle Larson came out of the pits, he was six seconds behind the nearest Corvette and also behind the Ganassi sister car which had moved to third place with Sage Karam driving.

Karam gave up third place to Larson shortly afterward however when he missed the chicane on cold tires.

When the clock showed just four hours to go, the No. 10 car, with Jordan Taylor still driving, had a 12-second lead over Christian Fittipaldi, who took over driving duties from Barbosa in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette.

A half hour later, and with Max Angelelli at the wheel of the front-running No. 10 Corvette, a full-course caution was called. Gone was the 7-second lead over Fittipaldi and an almost 20-second lead over the No. 01 and No. 02 Ganassi cars, the second of which had been taken over by Scott Dixon.

Angelelli restarted cleanly and again began to build on his lead.

With about two and a half hours to go, the No. 01 Ganassi car, with Karam driving, began developing problems shifting. With 2:25 to go, Karam pitted. Off came the bonnet and away went the team’s hopes for a victory. The car came back out with Joey Hand at the wheel, but it was three laps down. With two hours left, the car was brought to the paddocks.

That left three Prototypes on the lead lap – the No. 10 Corvette (with Angelelli driving), the No. 02 Ganassi car (with Dixon driving) and the No. 5 Action Express car (with Sebastien Bourdais driving).

Bruno Spengler had the lead in GT Le Mans at the 18-hour mark but shortly after, he blew through the Bus Stop portion of the Daytona infield road course, went through the grass and severely damaged his No. 25 BMW Z4 GTE. Taking over the lead in class was Ryan Briscoe in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R, who was applying pressure to Spengler.

Spengler, however, made amends by driving his way back past Briscoe to get back the lap he had lost.

The No. 25 BMW would soon lose its runner-up spot in class when passed by the No. 4 Corvette C7.R driven by Tommy Milner.

Milner had the GTLM lead on a restart with just over three hours to go. But that lead vanished when Milner ran into the rear end of a prototype in Turn 6. The Corvette suffered damage to the front end and had to pit to change noses.

Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette took over the lead. Right behind was the No. 25 BMW with Augusto Farfus at the wheel. By the time the No. 4 Corvette fixed the damage, it was down by four laps.

The No. 25 BMW took the lead with about 3:30 left in the race. At the wheel was Dirk Werner.

Leading GT Daytona was Dominik Farnbacher in the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT. The Viper spent the next several hours battling the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America.

Colin Braun of Core Autosport led in Prototype Challenge at dawn and stayed out front the ret of the morning.

NEWS AND NOTES

– The No. 33 TI Automotive Dodge Viper SRT came to a halt early in the 18th hour and would not re-fire for driver Sebastiaan Bleekemolen, who was running fourth in GTD. The competitive class had featured 49 lead changes among 10 cars at that point.

– The PC-leading No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 dodged another bullet when Colin Braun cut a tire shortly after a caution flag waved. Braun was able to pit and preserve a three-lap lead in class with six hours, 40 minutes remaining. Braun had a similar problem shortly before the 12-hour mark.

– Starworks Motorsport retired the No. 7 Martini Dinan BMW/Riley with overheating problems at 4:35 a.m., shortly after the car came to a stop at the exit of Turn 5 with Brendon Hartley at the wheel.

– Moments later, the No. 1 Tequila Patrón ESM Honda HPD ARX of Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel and David Heinemeier Hansson was retired due to gearbox problems.

– Defending Rolex 24 champion Action Express Racing ran into trouble shortly before the nine-hour mark when Joao Barbosa stopped on-track with no fuel pressure in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP. The car required a tow to the garage and returned to the track three laps down. At the end of the second segment, co-driver Christian Fittipaldi had moved to sixth, two laps down.

– Another Prototype contender ran into trouble early in the second Patrón Endurance Cup segment when Tony Kanaan drove the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford EcoBoost/Riley to the garage for a splitter change. The team was able to make the repair under a yellow flag losing only one lap. Kanaan then got the car back onto the lead lap and Kyle Larson drove to the second spot at the end of the 12-hour mark.

– Leading into the 10th hour in the GTLM class, Pierre Kaffer pitted the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia with a loss of horsepower. After multiple pit stops to diagnose the issue, Kaffer drove to the garage for repairs and the team later retired from the race reporting an electrical misfire.

– A multi-car incident involving the two Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSRs brought out the yellow flag in the 11th hour of the race. Both cars were running in the top five at the time of the collision, but sent the No. 912 of Earl Bamber to pit road and the No. 911 of Marc Lieb to the paddock for repairs.

– GTD driver Andy Lally suffered the oddest incident of the morning when his Porsche 911 GT America hit a possum. The possum crashed through the front end of the rear-engine car. “Sad day for the possum, sad day for Magnus Racin,” Lally said. Lally, who is big into animal rights, said the possum, whom was posthumously named “Ballast”, would be buried.

| , RacinToday.com Sunday, January 25 2015
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