The 55th Rolex 24 at Daytona was an endurance sports car racing event held at the Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Florida on January 28–29, 2017. It was also the first race for the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship. The overall race winner was the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli, and Jeff Gordon.
The event had the second closest finish in the race's history, and the ending is regarded as one of the greatest finishes in the history of endurance racing. With roughly seven minutes to go, contact between eventual winner Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque of Mustang Sampling Racing sent Albuquerque spinning. Albuquerque subsequently ran down Taylor over the final minutes, including trimming the lead by nearly a second and a half on the final lap, but came up short by 0.671 seconds.
NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who built the Daytona International Speedway in 1959, conceived the 24 Hours of Daytona as a race to attract European sports car endurance racing to the United States and provide international exposure to Daytona. It is informally considered part of the "Triple Crown of Endurance Racing" with the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
International Motor Sports Association's (IMSA) president Scott Atherton confirmed the race was part of the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship schedule in August 2016. It was the fourth year in a row the race was part of the series calendar and the 55th 24 Hours of Daytona. The 24 Hours of Daytona was the first of twelve scheduled automobile endurance races of 2017 by IMSA, and the first of four North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) events. It occurred at the 12-turn 3.56 mi (5.73 km) Daytona International Speedway combined road course in Daytona Beach, Florida, from January 28 to 29.
A total of 55 cars were officially entered for the event with most entries in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class. The 2016 winners, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM), returned to defend their title. Daytona marked the debut of IMSA's Daytona Prototype International (DPi) cars in place of Daytona Prototype (DP) machinery to compete alongside the revised Automobile Club de l'Ouest-regulated Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) cars in the Prototype category. Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR), Mustang Sampling Racing and Whelen Engineering Racing (WER) each fielded one Cadillac DPi-V.R car and ESM entered two Nissan Onroak DPi vehicles. Mazda Motorsports sent two Mazda RT24-P chassis and VisitFlorida Racing entered a single Riley Mk. 30 LMP2-specification car for Daytona. Oreca was represented by three 07-Gibson cars with one each fielded by JDC-Miller Motorsports (moving from the Prototype Challenge (PC) class), DragonSpeed and Daytona debutants Rebellion Racing. The PC category was composed of five Oreca FLM09 vehicles: two each from BAR1 Motorsports and Starworks Motorsport and one from Performance Tech Motorsports.
GT Le Mans (GTLM) consisted of 11 vehicles from five different brands. Porsche debuted the mid-engined 911 RSR vehicle under the Porsche GT Team banner. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) fielded two Ford GTs while its UK division entered a similar number of Fords for a four-car representation at Daytona. Team RLL entered two BMW M6 GTLM chassis and Corvette Racing transported two C7.Rs to Daytona. Ferrari was represented by a single Ferrari 488 GTE fielded by Risi Competizione. GTD featured 27 entrants among nine different GT3 manufacturers. Lamborghini was the most represented marque in GTD with eight Huracáns: two by GRT Grasser Racing Team and one each by Change Racing, DAC Motorsports, Dream Racing Competition, Ebimotors, Konrad Motorsport and Paul Miller Racing. Porsche was represented by five 911 GT3 Rs with one entered by Alegra Motorsports, CORE Autosport, Manthey Racing, Park Place Motorsports and The Racer's Group each. A mix of teams and automotive brands made up the rest of the GTD field. These included three Audi R8 LMS with one each fielded by Alex Job Racing, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport and Stevenson Motorsports and a trio of Mercedes-AMG GT3s by Riley Motorsports – Team AMG, Riley Motorsports – WeatherTech Racing and SunEnergy1 Racing. Michael Shank Racing partnered with Acura for two debuting Acura NSX GT3 while 3GT Racing gave the Lexus RC F GT3 its competition debut at Daytona, entering two cars. Scuderia Corsa and Spirit of Race both entered one Ferrari 488 GT3 apiece. There was one Aston Martin Racing-fielded Vantage GT3 and one Turner Motorsport-entered BMW M6 GT3.
Each car was driven by two full-time drivers and they were joined by one NAEC racer and one or two extra competitors. These additional participants were recruited from a variety of racing categories, including the FIA World Endurance Championship (such as Neel Jani for Rebellion Racing and Brendon Hartley for ESM), the Supercars Championship (such as Shane van Gisbergen for Riley Motorsports – WeatherTech Racing), the IndyCar Series (such as Scott Dixon for CGR and James Hinchcliffe for Mazda Motorsports), the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (such as Robert Wickens for Starworks Motorsport), and Super GT (such as Andrea Caldarelli for Paul Miller Racing). Some drivers competed at Daytona on a one-off basis, such as four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, and Formula E racer Sam Bird. Seb Morris won the Sunoco Whelen Challenge for drivers entered in the British GT Championship, the Radical Team Challenge and the Radical European Masters, earning a seat with WER.
Pre-event balance of performance changesEdit
The week before the official three-day test session at the circuit, IMSA altered the balance of performance in all four categories to create parity within them. All Prototype entries would commence the season with 930 kg (2,050 lb) of baseline weight and hold 75 l (16 imp gal; 20 US gal) of fuel cell capacity. The PC category received no performance changes. The Ford GT received an increase in boost ratio curve to attempt to create ease in performance while the Aston Martin Vantage had 50 kilograms (110 lb) of minimum weight added for worse handling and the Lamborghini Huracán received a power reduction with a 1 mm (0.039 in) air restrictor reduction to two 39 mm (1.5 in) openings. All DPi cars had their performance raised. The Mazda RT24-P and Nissan Onroak DPis received with turbocharger boost raises across all RPM ranges and the Cadillac DPi-V.R. had its air restrictor increased by 1.2 mm (0.047 in). The Ligier JS P217, Oreca 07 or Riley Mk. 30 LMP2 machines had no performance changes. The GTLM-category Porsche 911 RSR had its minimum rear wing angle set at zero degrees. The GTD and PC class received no performance alterations.
There were 55 entries involved in three days of testing divided into seven sessions held at the circuit from January 6 to 8 to prepare for the race. Some drivers such as Corey Lewis, Matt McMurry, Gustavo Menezes and Alessandro Pier Guidi missed testing since they were in Buriram for the Asian Le Mans Series's 4 Hours of Thailiand. The first day saw warm and low-wind weather conditions. Neel Jani set the fastest lap in the first session of 1:39.164 driving Rebellion's No. 13 Oreca car before improving by 0.004 seconds in the second session. Mathias Beche was second-fastest in JDC-Miller's No. 85 entry. The fastest DPi car was WTR's No. 10 Cadillac of Ricky Taylor in third, followed by PR1/Mathiasen's No. 52 Ligier of José Gutiérrez and DragonSpeed's No. 81 Oreca of Nicolas Lapierre in fourth and fifth. Johnny Mowlem's No. 26 BAR1 Oreca entry led in PC with a 1:42.701 lap. A crash by the No. 38 Performance Tech car of Clark Toppe against the Bus Stop chicane barrier and heavily damaged the car after an hour into testing. Toppe was uninjured. Jan Magnussen led the morning session in GTLM with a 1:44.760 lap in Corvette's No. 3 C7.R and remained top in the afternoon session from Dirk Müller's and Andy Priaulx's Nos. 66 and 67 Fords. Andrew Davis' No. 57 Stevenson Audi led GTD.
Jani again set the fastest overall lap of 1:38.944 during testing's second day. Tristan Nunez's No. 55 Mazda set the second-fastest lap as the DragonSpeed car of Ben Hanley placed third and the No. 85 JDC-Miller Oreca car was fourth-quickest. WTR's No. 10 Cadillac of Jordan Taylor came fifth. Pato O'Ward set the day's pace in the PC category with a lap of 1:43.119 in the No. 38 Performance Tech entry. Dixon's No. 67 Ford led in GTLM with a 1:44.558 lap recorded during the afternoon session and was two-tenths of a second quicker than Magnunssen's second-placed No. 3 Corvette. A major fire caused by a fuel line allowing fuel to escape and ignite on the warm engine compartment surface in the No. 4 Corvette driven by Marcel Fässler entering NASCAR turn two caused him to stop the car on the infield with front-left corner damage. Fässler was unhrt; he was transported to the infield medical center for evaluation and was subsequently released. The resulting damage caused Corvette Racing to withdraw from testing so it could investigate the fire's cause. Christopher Mies in the No. 29 Land Audi lapped at 1:47.723 to go fastest in the GTD field. A stoppage on the circuit for João Barbosa's No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and a collision between Patrick Pilet's No. 911 Porsche and the No. 98 Aston Martin that damaged Pilet's left-front suspension twice stopped testing.
Testing's third and last day saw DragonSpeed's Hanley lap fastest overall over the course of three day's testing at 1:38.343, 0.020 seconds quicker than Jonathan Bomarito's second-placed No. 55 Mazda. Sébastien Buemi put the No. 13 Rebellion Oreca third, the No. 52 PRI/Matheisen car came fourth with Barbosa's No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac the fastest DPi entry in fifth. Performance Tech continued to hold sway in the PC category to go fastest after a lap set by James French. The GTLM class was led by the No. 67 Ford of Ryan Briscoe with a 1:44.380 lap, going two-tenths of a second faster than Tony Kanaan's second-placed sister No. 69 entry. Sven Müller lapped fastest in GTD at 1:46.810 in Manthey's No. 59 Porsche in the morning session, going a tenth of a second quicker than Jeroen Bleekemolen's second-placed No. 33 Riley Mercedes-AMG.
Post-testing balance of performance alterationsEdit
After testing, IMSA again adjusted the balance of performance in all categories. The Mazda RT24-P and Nissan Onroak DPi cars had their fuel tanks raised while the Mazda and Riley Mk. 30 machines received minimum main plane angles for two approved rear wing choices. Cadillac's DPi-V.R. vehicles rear wing assembly was moved back by two degrees. The PC category cars had less fuel capacity and shorter hose restrictors. All five GTLM cars had their minimum rear wing angles altered and refuelling flow restrictors established. Several weight adjustments were made to all GTD-class machinery The Audi R8 LMS, Lamborghini Huracán, Porsche 911 R and Mercedes-AMG had their performance lowered with air restrictor reductions and the fuel capacities of the Lamborghini, the Lexus and Mercedes-AMG cars were reduced. Each of the nine GTD cars had their refuelling flow restrictors established.
Practice and qualifyingEdit
There were four practice sessions preceding the race's start on Saturday, three on Thursday and one on Friday. The first two one-hour sessions were on Thursday morning and afternoon. The third held later that evening lasted 90 minutes; the fourth on Friday morning lasted an hour.
The first practice session happened in cloudy weather. Cadillacs led the time sheets with the best lap set by Mustang Sampling's No. 5 entry of Christian Fittipaldi at 1:38.196 to unofficially surpass Alex Gurney's 2014 DP class record. Fittipaldi was 0.792 seconds faster than Ricky Taylor's No. 10 WTR car in second and Mike Conway was third-quickest in WER's No. 31 vehicle. The quickest LMP2 lap was set by Hanley in DragonSpeed's fourth-placed No. 81 Oreca car with Beche's No. 85 JDC-Miller entry fifth. Stéphane Sarrazin stopped the No, 13 Rebellion Oreca on the circuit's banking and brought a halt to practice with fifteen minutes remaining. He was able to return to the pit lane. The five-vehicle PC class was led by the No. 20 BAR1 Oreca of Gustavo Yacamán with a time of 1:43.668. The quickest GTLM entry was the No. 68 Ford of Olivier Pla who set a lap of 1:44.755 and finished ahead of Porsche's second-placed No. 912 RSR of Laurens Vanthoor. With a lap of 1:47.778, Alessandro Balzan led the 27-car GTD class in Scuderia Corsa's No. 63 Ferrari by a tenth of a second from Christian Engelhart's No. 61 GRT Lamborghini.
In the second practice session, Barbosa's Mustang Sampling car lapped quickest at 1:38.549, 0.177 seconds ahead of WTR's Ricky Taylor's in second and WER's Dane Cameron completed in a duplicate of the top three from the preceding session. Orecas followed in fourth to sixth with Loïc Duval's DragonSpeed, JDC-Miller's Stephen Simpson and Rebellion's Jani entries. ESM's No. 22 Nissan of Johannes van Overbeek stopped entering the backstraight with no fuel and was recovered to the pit lane during a red flag period. A spin by Duval into the turn one inside exit barrier saw DragonSpeed's car sustain major left-hand side damage and ended practice with five minutes left. Johnny Mowlem paced the PC category with a 1:44.175 lap in BAR1's No. 26 Oreca with O'Ward's Performance Tech car second. In GTLM, Pla's 1:44.245 lap set with approximately ten minutes remaining led the class in Ford's No. 66 car, almost three-tenths of a second faster than Toni Vilander's Risi Ferrari. Bill Auberlen's No. 19 BMW was third. GTD saw Patrick Lindsey in the No. 73 Park Place Porsche record the quickest category time of 1:47.135, 0.059 seconds faster than Pier Guidi's No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.
Thursday afternoon's 90-minute four-group qualifying saw each category run separate 15-minute sessions. Regulations stipulated teams to nominate one qualifying driver, with the fastest laps determining each classes starting order. IMSA arranged the grid to put Prototypes ahead of all PC, GTLM and GTD cars. Barbosa achieved his first career pole position with a 1:36.903 class lap record in Mustang Sampling's No. 5 Cadillac. His teammate Cameron qualified the sister No. 31 WER entry 0.072 seconds slower in second and Jani third-placed Rebellion entry became the fastest Oreca car late in the session. WTR's Ricky Taylor had pole position for most of qualifying before Jani's lap demoted him to fourth. The ESM duo of Hartley and Ryan Dalziel qualified fifth and sixth. The DragonSpeed Oreca did not partake in qualifying because the team received permission from IMSA to switch to the spare tub from their spare car and replace the one that was damaged beyond repair as a result of Duval's second practice session accident.
French took the PC category pole position in the Performance Tech Oreca with a 1:42.559 time set during his final quick lap with five minutes left. Mowlem qualified the No. 26 BAR1 vehicle second and Buddy Rice's sister No. 20 car took third after leading the category for most of the session. In GTLM, Ford took the first three positions led by the No. 66 Ford of Joey Hand who set a benchmark time of 1:43.473. Hand lapped 0.231 seconds faster than Richard Westbrook's second-placed sister No. 67 Ford and Pla's No. 68 Ford took third. Pla lost control of his Ford in the International Horseshoe with less than five minutes to go but was able to avoid damaging the vehicle by not striking the tyre barrier. The fastest Porsche was the No. 911 RSR of Pilet in fourth and the highest-placed Ferrari was the No. 62 488 GTE of Vilander in fifth. Ferrari claimed the first two places in GTD led by Pier Guidi's No. 51 Spirit of Race car at 1:47.099 from Scuderia Corsa's No. 63 entry of Balzan by 0.018 seconds after Balzan's final lap was slower than Pier Guidi's. Marco Sørensen qualified the Aston Martin Vantage third ahead of Matteo Cairoli's fourth-placed Manthey Porsche and Mirko Bortolotti's fifth-placed No. 11 GRT Lamborghini.
The third practice session saw Max Angelelli lapped quickest for WRT at 1:37.757, 0.148 seconds faster than the second-placed Barbosa. Hartley set the third-fastest time in the No. 22 ESM Nissan with the sister ESM car of Scott Sharp fourth. WER's Cameron was fifth-quickest. Gordon caused a stoppage early on when he lost control of WTR's Cadillac. O'Ward set the pace in the PC category with a 1:43.634 lap in Performance Tech's car to go 0.824 seconds over Remo Ruscitti in Starworks' second-placed No. 8 entry. A lap of 1:44.242 saw Briscoe's No. 67 Ford lead GTLM from the No. 912 Porsche of Kévin Estre and the No. 911 Porsche of Dirk Werner by less than a tenth of a second. Porsche paced GTD with Park Place's 911 of Jörg Bergmeister lapping at 1:48.084 over Robert Alon's No. 15 3GT Lexus. Jeroen Mul stopped the No. 16 Change Lamborghini on the track entering the Bus Stop chicane with half an hour left and saw practice red-flagged again.
In the last practice session, Jordan Taylor went fastest for WTR at 1:36.790 on his final lap. Lapierre's rebuilt DragonSpeed Oreca was second, followed by Mustang Sampling's Fittipaldi who set a time late on for third. The Rebellion Oreca was fourth after a lap by Jani and Visit Racing's No. 90 Cadillac of René Rast came fifth. Yacamán in the No. 20 BAR1 Oreca led the PC category with a 1:43.164 lap, quicker than Wickens' 8 Starworks vehicle. Hand's No. 66 Ford paced GTLM with a 1:43.490 lap, 0.053 seconds quicker than Werner's No. 911 Porsche. GTD was led by Paul Miller's Audi of Calderelli with a late lap of 1:47.455, 0.056 seconds faster than Bleekemolen's Riley Mercedes-AMG. Kaz Grala's Change Lamborghini was third. There were two stoppages during the session. The first stoppage came 13 minutes in when the Risi Ferrari laid oil on the circuit. Emmanuel Anassis' DAC Lamborghini necessitated the second stoppage due to a left-rear tire failure caused by low air pressure, destroying the car against the turn one barrier. The car was recovered to the pit lane via a flat bed truck. IMSA allowed DAC to switch to a 2016 O'Gara Motorsports display Lamborghini.
|1||P||5||Mustang Sampling Racing||João Barbosa||1:36.903||1|
|2||P||31||Whelen Engineering Racing||Dane Cameron||1:36.973||2|
|3||P||13||Rebellion Racing||Neel Jani||1:37.123||3|
|4||P||10||Wayne Taylor Racing||Ricky Taylor||1:37.169||4|
|5||P||22||Tequila Patrón ESM||Brendon Hartley||1:37.609||5|
|6||P||2||Tequila Patrón ESM||Ryan Dalziel||1:38.251||6|
|7||P||85||JDC-Miller MotorSports||Stephen Simpson||1:38.915||7|
|8||P||52||PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports||Tom Kimber-Smith||1:39.149||8|
|9||P||55||Mazda Motorsports||Jonathan Bomarito||1:39.940||9|
|10||P||70||Mazda Motorsports||Joel Miller||1:39.973||10|
|11||P||90||VisitFlorida Racing||Marc Goossens||1:40.532||11|
|12||PC||38||Performance Tech Motorsports||James French||1:42.559||12|
|13||PC||26||BAR1 Motorsports||Johnny Mowlem||1:43.396||13|
|14||GTLM||66||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Joey Hand||1:43.473||18|
|15||PC||20||BAR1 Motorsports||Buddy Rice||1:43.515||14|
|16||GTLM||67||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Richard Westbrook||1:43.704||19|
|17||GTLM||68||Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK||Olivier Pla||1:43.987||20|
|18||GTLM||62||Risi Competizione||Toni Vilander||1:44.121||21|
|19||GTLM||911||Porsche GT Team||Patrick Pilet||1:44.251||22|
|20||GTLM||69||Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK||Andy Priaulx||1:44.256||23|
|21||GTLM||3||Corvette Racing||Jan Magnussen||1:44.359||24|
|22||GTLM||912||Porsche GT Team||Kévin Estre||1:44.591||25|
|23||GTLM||4||Corvette Racing||Oliver Gavin||1:44.685||26|
|24||GTLM||19||BMW Team RLL||Bill Auberlen||1:44.759||27|
|25||GTLM||24||BMW Team RLL||John Edwards||1:44.974||28|
|26||PC||8||Starworks Motorsport||Chris Cumming||1:46.628||15|
|27||GTD||51||Spirit of Race||Alessandro Pier Guidi||1:47.099||29|
|28||GTD||63||Scuderia Corsa||Alessandro Balzan||1:47.117||30|
|29||PC||88||Starworks Motorsport||Alex Popow||1:47.682||16|
|30||GTD||98||Aston Martin Racing||Marco Sørensen||1:47.734||31|
|31||GTD||59||Manthey Racing||Matteo Cairoli||1:47.736||32|
|32||GTD||11||GRT Grasser Racing Team||Mirko Bortolotti||1:47.785||33|
|33||GTD||29||Montaplast by Land-Motorsport||Connor De Phillippi||1:48.213||34|
|34||GTD||93||Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian||Andy Lally||1:48.268||35|
|35||GTD||28||Alegra Motorsports||Daniel Morad||1:48.341||36|
|36||GTD||86||Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian||Jeff Segal||1:48.350||37|
|37||GTD||73||Park Place Motorsports||Patrick Lindsey||1:48.424||38|
|38||GTD||61||GRT Grasser Racing Team||Christian Engelhart||1:48.483||39|
|39||GTD||48||Paul Miller Racing||Bryan Sellers||1:48.496||40|
|40||GTD||14||3GT Racing||Scott Pruett||1:48.541||41|
|41||GTD||16||Change Racing||Jeroen Mul||1:48.590||42|
|42||GTD||57||Stevenson Motorsports||Andrew Davis||1:48.683||43|
|43||GTD||23||Alex Job Racing||Pierre Kaffer||1:48.798||44|
|44||GTD||96||Turner Motorsport||Justin Marks||1:48.810||45|
|45||GTD||75||SunEnergy1 Racing||Boris Said||1:48.969||46|
|46||GTD||33||Riley Motorports - Team AMG||Ben Keating||1:49.056||47|
|47||GTD||15||3GT Racing||Austin Cindric||1:49.130||48|
|48||GTD||21||Konrad Motorsport||Marco Mapelli||1:49.322||49|
|51||GTD||50||Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech Racing||Cooper MacNeil||1:49.809||52|
|52||GTD||54||CORE Autosport||Jon Bennett||1:50.809||53|
|53||GTD||18||DAC Motorsports||Emmanuel Anassis||1:51.517||54|
|54||GTD||27||Dream Racing Motorsport||Lawrence DeGeorge||1:55.835||55|
|–||P||81||DragonSpeed||Did Not Participate||17|
Class winners are denoted in bold.
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