The 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona
By Efrain Olivares
Michael Shank Racing scores first win at Rolex 24 in DP, while Magnus Racing scores first ever victory in GT
|58 cars took the Green Flag at 3:30 PM ET on Saturday for the 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona
Let's not beat around the bush. These are the hard numbers; 58 cars started the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The winning margin in the Daytona Prototype class was 5.198 seconds. The winning margin in the GT class was 9.412 seconds. The 50th Rolex 24 at Daytona lived up the hype and was a slugfest – literally and figuratively – from start to finish.
|Ryan Dalziel wheeled the no. 8 Starworks Ford-Riley to a shock pole position in Daytona Prototype
The surprises started in qualifying for DP. The pre-race favorites – including the no. 10 Suntrust Corvette DP (Max Angelleli/Ricky Taylor/Ryan Briscoe), the no. 99 Gainsco Corvette DP (Alex Gurney/Jon Fogarty/Memo Gidley), the no. 01 Ganassi Racing BMW-Riley (Scott Pruett/Memo Rojas/Graham Rahal/Joey Hand) and the no. 02 Ganassi Racing BMW-Riley (Scott Dixon/Dario Franchitti/Jamie McMurray/Juan Pablo Montoya) – had the rug pulled out from under them by the no. 8 Starworks Ford-Riley (Ryan Dalziel/Lucas Luhr/Allan McNish/Alex Popow/Enzo Potolicchio), qualified by Dalziel. Dalziel threw down a time of 1:41.119 – just edging the no. 10 Suntrust Corvette by a tenth of a second, who ran a 1:41.20. Third was Scott Dixon in the no. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW-Riley with a 1:41.463, and the no. 02 car didn't take part due to a blown engine.
The fourteen DP cars had a clean start with the no. 60 Mike Shank Racing Ford-Riley (AJ Allmendinger/Justin Wilson/John Pew/Oswaldo Negri) mixing it up with the no. 8 Starworks Riley and the pair of Chip Ganassi Racing cars. The first bombshell of the race came no less than thirty minutes in, when Angelelli brought the no. 10 Suntrust Corvette into the garage where it was ultimately retired with an engine failure.
|A huge surprise was the engine failure of the no. 10 SunTrust Corvette DP, a heavy favorite and the second-place qualilfier. The car did not make it past the first 30 minutes.
With most of the DP field running on the lead lap, the no. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP (Antonio Garcia/Olivier Gavin/Jan Magnussen/Richard Westbrook) took a turn at the lead, mixing it up with the leaders as the race neared the 6 hour mark. Shortly after, the No. 99 Gainsco car was forced into the garage with a hole in the radiator, eliminating it from contention.
Just after 2:30 in the morning, the no. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing car also fell far down the order after a long pit stop to fix a broken shifter. The overnight hours were mostly led by the no. 8 Starworks car, which then fell a lap down to fix damage caused when Lucas Luhr went off track. When the sun came up just after 7:00 AM, the no. 60 Michael Shank Racing car was leading with the no. 01 Chip Ganassi car in second and the no. 8 Starworks car in third, but one lap down.