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Rolex Daytona 24 at dawn | Time for Coffee?

Daytona weekend means the start of a new motorsport season, and this year didn't disappoint

By Sam Sheehan / Monday, January 27, 2020

While the drama of the Monte Carlo Rally (and reigning WRC champ Tanak's crash) was enough to fill newsfeeds over the weekend, those who followed the Daytona 24 Hours will know it was another vintage running of Florida's iconic race. The opening round of IMSA's WeatherTech SportsCar Championship fielded just 38 teams for 2020, it's smallest entry list yet, but the competition for the four class wins was hot. Not least because the list of drivers contending for silverware represented some truly world class talent.

Among those in with a shot at the overall win in the top DPi class (which will lend some of its regulations to the new ACO-IMSA LMDh class that was announced on Friday) were four-time Champ Car title winner Sébastien Bourdais, star Brit Oliver Jarvis and some chap called Juan Pablo Montoya. The front-running Cadillacs, Mazdas and Acuras of the top category were averaging over 130mph across Daytona's part-banked, part infield layout, with the former section seeing cars reach speeds in excess of 200mph. Most impressive is how cars were able to do this for the race's entirety.

In fact, like its European brother from another mother, the 24 Hours of Le Mans - for which the regulations of the LMP2 and GTE classes are already aligned - this East Coast event is more daylong sprint than endurance race these days. And no clearer is that in the early hours of the morning, when mechanics in the garage are liable to steal a few minutes of shut eye after over a dozen hours of on-track action. Those on circuit, however, must resist fatigue and press on, like Dutch racer Renger Van Der Zande, who's responsible for pedalling the Cadillac around Daytona at dawn in the footage below.

The number 10 V8 machine - which was also driven by Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon and Kamui Kobayashi - went on to win the event with only a 65-second gap to the chasing Mazda of Jarvis and his teammates after 24 hours. As the video shows, clawing out this miniscule gap required unrelenting commitment - note how hard the Cadillac is thrown over kerbs and bumps even at this advanced stage in the race, and the pace difference to lower category machines. It's impressive, eye-widening stuff; better get that brew on and turn up the volume in your headphones...

Feeling inspired? Find out how you can go to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with PH here.

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