Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona: The sun slowly set, hid and triumphantly rose again to mark a full 24 hours of racing around the famed Daytona International Speedway infield in the opening race of the GRAND-AM series and 2013 racing calendar. After a grueling slog that collected several cars and plenty of yellow flags, the pole-sitting No. 01 BMW-Riley Daytona Prototype of Chip Ganassi Racing emerged victorious to capture the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona just 21.9 seconds ahead of the charging No. 12 Corvette Prototype.
This year featured all kinds of new changes to the race, but it ended with the familiar Ganassi team taking the checkered flag – their fifth in the last ten years. The win also marked a milestone for driver Scott Pruett, one-fourth of the team behind the No. 01 wheel, and a newly-crowned five-time Rolex winner.
In the ultra-competitive GT Class, Audi took a 1-2 finish with their No. 24 and No. 52 cars ahead of the likes of Porsche, SRT, BMW and others. It marked the best showing ever for the Audi R8, which added Daytona to its list of 24-hour accomplishments that includes Spa, Sebring, the Nurburgring and Le Mans. Six GT cars finished on the lead lap, an incredible feat considering each car went around 678 times over the course of the race.
In the brand new alternative fuel GX Class, two Porsche Caymans finished 1-2 with the No. 16 of Napleton Racing taking top honors. Despite an all-star driving crew and three brand new cars, Mazdaspeed and their striking diesel-powered Mazda6 cars could not mount an impressive showing in their race debut. Sadly, none of the three cars completed more than 51 laps before suffering race-ending mechanical failures. Only six cars total competed in the GX Class, an ominous sign for the GRAND-AM experiment that they hope will continue to further an environmentally-friendly image when the series merges with American Le Mans Series in 2014.
Check out the photos above, and enjoy the video below from the perspective of the Porsche GT teams.