DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Contact between the leaders with seven minutes remaining in the 55th annual Rolex 24 At Daytona decided the outcome of the twice-around-the-clock classic at Daytona Int’l Speedway.
The race was the opener in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship campaign.
Ricky Taylor, driving the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac Dpi-V.R, saw a hole under leader Felipe Albuquerque, who was piloting the Action Express Cadillac Dpi-V.R, entering the first turn and went for it. When Albuquerque closed the door, the two cars made contact with Albuquerque spinning.
While Albuquerque stormed back toward the front, Taylor held on to win by .641 seconds to give Wayne Taylor Racing its first Rolex 24 victory.
The incident was reviewed by IMSA officials who ruled “no action” would be taken against Taylor, who shared the winning car with his brother, Jordan, Max Angelelli, who retired following his final stint in the No. 10, and Jeff Gordon, who became the fourth (Mario Andretti, A.J. Foyt and Jamie McMurray) driver to win both the Daytona 500 NASCAR race and the Rolex 24 at the World Center of Racing.
“It was that gap from the kink to the corner and he opened his hands a little bit, I released the break and I fully committed and he went for it, and I wasn’t going to budge,” Ricky Taylor explained. “It was the end of the Rolex 24 and Cadillac’s debut and we wanted to be flying the American flag. They are all about American optimism.”
Angelelli exited the car with a little more than four hours remaining, and confirmed to FOX Sports, “That’s it. I’m done. I’m finished.” Later in victory lane, the 50-year-old Italian said he was speechless and credited Ricky Taylor for a great drive.
Ricky Taylor, meanwhile credited Angelelli for the inspiration. “If I learned one thing from Max, it is to never give up,” Ricky Taylor said.
“Great to be back at Daytona with Cadillac and we win it with Jeff Gordon,” said Jordan Taylor. “My brother Ricky had some great moves out there and what a way to send Max off into retirement.”
“What an amazing experience,” Gordon said. “This experience wouldn’t have been the same without Wayne and his passion for this car and this series…I am so honored to be part of this.”
The Cadillacs, which finished one-two after 659 laps of the 3.56-mile infield road course, with much of the race run in cold and wet conditions, dominated the event.
Albuquerque shared his second-place machine with IMSA regulars Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi.
Albuquerque said he realized it was “last lap of the race type stuff,” but that he believed Ricky Taylor should have been penalized for the aggressive move that decided the outcome of the race.
Third overall was the Visit Florida.com Dpi shared by Marc Goosens, Ranger Van Der Zande and Rene Rast, finishing one lap behind the two Cadillacs.
Fourth went to the ESM Nissan Dpi that was shared by Scott Sharp, Ryan Dalziel, Luis Felipe Derani and Brandon Hartley, the defending winners of the Rolex 24.
The Performance Tech Motorsports No. 38 Oreca claimed a dominant victory in the Prototype Challenge category that featured only five cars.
Nicholas Boulle took the checkered flag for the team that included drivers James French, Patrico O’Ward and Kyle Masson.
For coverage of the GTLM and GTD classes, see separate story.