DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – While Cadillac was celebrating its fourth-straight overall win in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, BMW and Lamborghini earned victories of their own Sunday at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing, under the guise of BMW Team RLL, topped an exhilarating GT Le Mans class battle to earn its second Rolex 24 class victory in as many years as an organization.
In 2019, the RLL squad won with its No. 25 BMW entry, but this time around it was the No. 24 and co-drivers Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert who reigned in the end.
After trading the lead with both Porsche North America entries for much of the 24-hour distance, Finnish pilot Krohn survived drama on a late pit stop and then pulled away from the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Earl Bamber during the final stint of the twice-around-the-clock endurance classic.
With an hour and eight minutes to go, Krohn was coming down pit road for a routine round of service when an LMP2 entry pulled out from the stall just ahead of BMW Team RLL’s, leading to a brief stall of Krohn’s machine that cost the No. 24 eight critical seconds of road time as it crept into position.
As it turned out, however, it didn’t make a difference in the final result.
Krohn absolutely turned up the wick inside of the final hour of competition, running down Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 and making the winning pass on lap 760, when Tandy ran wide at turn one with just under 46 minutes to go.
From there, Krohn slowly and steadily opened up a 14-second margin of victory – the largest gap of the race – as he put in near-qualifying times lap after lap down the home stretch.
Sunday’s class victory was the first Rolex 24 triumph for Krohn, Edwards and Mostert, but the second for Farfus, who was also part of the 2019 class-winning team on the other end of the RLL garage stall.
“I knew (after the bad pit stop) it needed to be quali lap after quali lap,” said Krohn of his final stint. “I knew I couldn’t make any mistakes, and I knew that catching (the Porsches) was one thing, but passing them was completely another. I don’t know how we did it, but a flawless job by the whole team.
“These guys (Edwards, Farfus and Mostert) led the pace; I just had to go in and bring it home.”
The pair of factory Porsches filled out the remaining two steps on the GTLM class podium, with the No. 912 of Bamber, Mathieu Jaminet and Laurens Vanthoor crossing second and the No. 911 co-driven by Tandy, Matt Campbell and Frederic Makowiecki finishing third in the hotly-contested class.
In GT Daytona, Paul Miller Racing finally collected its maiden Rolex 24 class victory after many years of trying thanks to the efforts of Andrea Caldarelli, Corey Lewis, Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow.
The quartet co-drove the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo to the win following a strategy shift that saw the Paul Miller squad short-pit on its final two stops in order to save time on refueling.
That move ultimately allowed Caldarelli to leapfrog the GRT-Magnus Racing Lamborghini of Marco Mapelli going into the final stint, giving the No. 48 an 18-second margin at the head of the class order.
Caldarelli maintained and extended that gap to the finish, taking the checkered flag in front of Mapelli by 21.908 seconds. It was the third straight Rolex 24 win for Lamborghini in the GTD class.
Among Paul Miller Racing’s quartet of drivers, perhaps the most emotional after the race was Sellers, who finally took a class win at the Rolex 24 in his 14th attempt at the 24-hour endurance classic.
“The emotions are high,” said Sellers. “The difference is, in the 13 times prior to this, I didn’t have these guys and the crew standing behind us. It’s not about one single person in this deal, it’s everybody. You don’t win a race like this without everyone … and everyone played their part today.
“I have to say, in every race there’s a standout performance, and we all did our jobs, but Andrea really stood out,” Sellers added. “We leaned on him heavily, especially at the end of the race, and we’re just thankful that he was able to come here and be a part of our program. I’m so happy. I don’t know what to say; I’m just so proud of everyone at Paul Miller Racing. They deserve to finally celebrate this one.”
Second in GTD went to the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of Mapelli, Andy Lally, John Potter and Spencer Pumpelly.
The final step on the class podium filled by the No. 88 WRT Speedstar Audi R8 LMS GT3 co-driven by Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Daniel Morad and Dries Vanthoor.
Wayne Taylor Racing collected the overall victory on Sunday. For more on the two prototype classes, click here.