DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ford GT program proved unbeatable during the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Rolex 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway, delivering Chip Ganassi his 200th victory as a car owner.
The two-car squad dominated the GT Le Mans class throughout the 24-hour endurance classic, with the No. 67 Ford GT shared by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon collecting the class victory.
The No. 67 entry with Briscoe at the wheel finished 11 seconds ahead of the second Ford GT, the No. 66 car shared by Joey Hand, Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais. The team cars pitted for the final time on the same lap with 40 minutes left, but it was the No. 67 driven by Briscoe that left pit road first en route to the victory.
“The guys just did a flawless job,” said Briscoe after his second Rolex 24 class victory. “I’m just blown away. The race was perfect. It’s rare that you can have a perfect race. We had one little bobble at the very end of the first stint of the race and from there on it was just head down and go.”
The Ford GT entries were in their own zip code throughout the Rolex 24, with the two cars swapping the class lead multiple times throughout the 24-hour timeframe. Westbrook put the No. 67 car in the lead for the final time on lap 708 after taking the top spot from the No. 66 Ford GT.
Combined the two Ford GT entries led 774 of 783 laps run in the GT Le Mans class.
“It’s an amazing, amazing feeling. What a display,” said Westbrook, who earned his first Rolex 24 victory on Sunday in his 12th attempt. “To get Chip’s 200th win as well, it’s just incredible. No team orders. Twenty-four hours of intense racing. We really earned that. Just amazing to be a part of.”
The Rolex 24 victory is the second-straight for Ganassi’s Ford GT program at Daytona Int’l Speedway. Last year Hand, Mueller and Bourdais brought home the victory in the No. 66 Ford GT.
“I think the car definitely had some good speed,” said Dixon, who has also has two overall Rolex 24 victories on his resume in addition to his GT Le Mans class victory Sunday. “To be honest I think strategy was a big key there too. Brad Goldberg (No. 67 engineer) and the guys switched it up and we were able to jump there others. It was a little nice to not have to push the envelope on track and be able to do it in the exchange. These guys did an amazing job and just proud to be a part of the team.”
Third in the GT Le Mans class went to the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R shared by Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller.
In the GT Daytona class, the GRT Grasser Racing Team made history by delivering Lamborghini the brand’s first victory in a 24 hour event.
It didn’t come easily as the team started the race from last in the 50-car field, meaning they had to race their way through 20 other GT Daytona entries just to get to the front of the class Once they did that, the team then had to battle with Michael Shank Racing’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 team throughout the morning and afternoon on Sunday.
In the end, Mirko Bortolotti was able to get the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 to the checkered flag first by 16.806 seconds over former Pirelli World Challenge GT champion Alvaro Parente, who was driving the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 at the checkers.
“It’s a big day. I’m speechless,” said Bortolotti, who shared the No. 11 Lamborghini with Rik Breukers, Rolf Ineichen and Franck Perera. “We came from last position to win this race. Just super proud and super happy. We did a massive job, the whole team. Lamborghini, the first 24 hour race win for us. I hope there are some more coming, but for now I’m really, really happy and enjoying this one.”
Parente, Katherine Legge, A.J. Allmendinger and Trent Hidman put the Acura NSX GT3 on the podium in the car’s second year at the Rolex 24 with a runner-up finish. Third in the class went to the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 driven by Andrea Caldraelli, Madison Snow, Bryce Miller and Bryan Sellers.
Scott Pruett, IMSA’s all-time winningest driver with 60 victories, previously announced that the Rolex 24 would be his final race as a professional driver. Pruett shared the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus R CF GT3 with Jack Hawksworth, David Heinemeier Hansson and Dominik Farnbacher and claimed a ninth-place finish in the class.