While officially the American Le Mans Series and Grand-Am merged into the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship, effectively ALMS was absorbed into Grand-Am. IMSA is officially the sanctioning body, but the France family and NASCAR still have a lot of control of the series, and it showed at the end of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
The first problem came with just over 20 minutes left when a car got off course and tapped the tire barriers. Damage was minimal, and the car kept going. However, as the car was getting back on track, the full course caution came up. It bunched up the field for a finish, and at the same time, was somehow so long than the green didn't come back out until they were 8 minutes left.
In the end, the leaders at the final restart in the P, PC, and GTLM classes all went on to win. However, there was controversy, and many would say inexplicable idiocy, in the GTD finish. The #555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari, driven by Alessandro Pier Guidi, was trying to hold off Markus Winklehock in the #45 Flying Lizard Audi. On the final lap, Winklehock tried a daring move on the outside of the fast left hand kink, and ended up in the dirt. Pier Guidi would cross the finish line first. However, Race Control would penalize Pier Guidi for avoidable contact. Skip to 2:30 on this video to see the incident as it happened.
The only problem (in addition to overly legislating the final lap of a 24 hour race) is that there wasn't actually contact. Pier Guidi had the line. He didn't give Winklehock room, but he was the one trying a daring move on the outside of a tight left hand corner. Also, again, there was no contact. Watch this slow-mo video.
Officials are currently reviewing the situation, but for now it appears the Flying Lizard team, with drivers Winklehock, Spencer Pumpelly, Tim Pappas, and Nelson Canache, have a class win they don't really deserve (through no fault of their own of course). Level 5, meanwhile, which including Indy 500 vet and NBC Sports Network commentator Townsend Bell, rightfully feel screwed. These two late actions put a sour note on the end of what was a great race save for the scary Memo Gidley-Matteo Malucelli accident (both drivers are injured severely, but are alive, which is good).
Your overall winners, and the winner in the Prototype class, were the #5 Action Express Corvette DP, driven by Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, and Sebastian Bourdais. Winning the PC class was the #54 CORE Autosport car, driven by Colin Braun, Mark Wilkins, James Gue, and Jon Bennett. Finally, the GTLM class victory went to the #911 North American Porsche 911 RSR, driven by Patrick Pilet, Richard Lietz, and Nick Tandy.
UPDATE: TUSCC has done the right thing and reversed the penalty on Level 5 Motorsports, and they have been declared the winner of the GT Daytona class. It's hard not to feel bad for Flying Lizard, but this is the correct decision. It also sucks that it came to a decision made 4 hours after the race ended, but again, it's the correct decision, and that's what matters in the end.
- Locker Room
- how it works