2023 24H Daytona – Acura and Meyer Shank Racing are the first winners of the GTP era

How many GTPs will make it to the finish line without worry? Will LMP2 make fun of newcomers to the premier class? Those were the questions many were asking when they arrived at Daytona International Speedway, as the next generation of prototypes would be capricious in testing.

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In the end, they were nine at the start, eight at the finish and six in the top six. That’s not to say they made it through this double hour without the slightest problem, far from it, but it’s very promising for future races.

Two minutes before the end of the first hour of the race, BMW n°25 was the first to stop on its side. After a 90-minute repair in which the Bavarian firm replaced the MGU and battery, it returned to the track with the sole aim of finishing.

© Courtesy of IMSA

The second GTP to suffer was the #7 Porsche 963, which was parked in its box for a battery change for 35 minutes after appearing to struggle.

On the Acura and Cadillac side, the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing ARX-06 and No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing V-LMDH have nothing special to report at the start of the race, other than modified rear blocks.

On the other hand, at 10:52 p.m., the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing received a drive to restart after a pit stop with the cable still attached to the car. But the missed late lap was recovered during the following Full Course Yellow. The allure of an American race, you might say… The situation got even more complicated shortly after three in the morning due to a technical glitch during the break. There are two rounds left in this case…but these will be refilled by the end of the morning.

On n°60’s side, we routinely remove the rear block to re-oil Meyer Shank Racing’s ARX-06 enough to observe unplanned stops for the Blomqvist-Braun-Castroneves-Pagenaud quartet. But not enough for it to lose touch with the leading Cadillacs.

© Courtesy of IMSA

More precisely, V-LMDh n°31, which until then had escaped the pitfalls, would fall victim to a broken left-rear suspension after hitting the GT, leaving around twenty laps to the start of the 16th hour.

But Cadillac’s misfortunes are nothing compared to what will affect Porsche. Shortly after 5:00 a.m., Tandy lost control of No. 6, who was still in contention for the top five. His 963 bad at-bats allowed him to slip three runs. In the end, there is nothing completely prohibitive, only three FCYs can bring him back to the lead.

The Briton will try to save himself, even turning in 1’35. But his efforts will be in vain. At the end of the morning, around 11 o’clock, a technical problem caused the gearbox to “explode” and the only retiree in this GTP category regretted it. In turn, the BMW M Hybrid V8 n°24 then moved on to change the brakes on the leaders’ lap.

In the final sprint of the last half hour, we face four cars on the same lap and therefore still in contention for the win: Chip Ganassi Racing’s two Acuras and two Cadillacs. But the ARX-06 is very powerful, as it showed at the start of the race by outrunning its rivals with as much ease as it passed the LMP2s. n°60 runs with n°10 on its exhausts. Amazing, so amazing…

© Courtesy of IMSA

The inside duel between the two Acuras finally went in Meyer Shank Racing’s favor thanks to the ever-shining Tom Blomqvist, who was 4”1 ahead of Filipe Albuquerque. It’s enough to offer the employer and teammates Simon Pagenaud and Helio Castroneves a second consecutive victory in the Floridian double hour. It’s even the third in a row for the Brazilian, who won in 2021 with Wayne Taylor Racing. On the other hand, it’s the first overall success for rookie Colin Brown… but fifth across all categories, having already won LMPC in 2014, Prototype in 2018 and finally LMP2 in 2020 .

If Acura has not run any Endurance tests with the ARX-06, its first race ends with a double. Porsche, the most watched producer of bitumen, on the other hand, is the one that faces the most concerns.

Cadillac fields two Chip Ganassi Racing V-LMDHs in 3rd and 4th. 9”6 and 11”1 respectively, the advantage goes to the Bourdeis-Van der Zande-Dixon n°01, while the BMW offers an almost unexpected fifth of the lead, even if it wins 15 laps.

Acura and Meyer Shank Racing will therefore go down in history as the first winners of this new GTP era – it’s almost easy to say. But more than that, we will remember that for the first time in the race, the cars that met the technical regulations of the LMDh were more reliable, more reliable than expected.

We’ll now have to wait until mid-March to see the rest. First with the 1000 miles of Sebring – the opening round of the WEC and the first LMDh vs. The scene of the LMH showdown – followed by the 12 Hours of Sebring the next day. Will BMW, Porsche and Cadillac catch up to Acura?

Race schedule HERE

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