The #24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE driven by John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Augusto Farfus, and Chaz Mostert won the GTLM class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the 2020 season opener for the IMSA WeatherTech Series. It was the second consecutive Rolex 24 win for Team RLL; in 2019 the team’s #25 car won, with Farfus, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, and Colton Herta at the controls. This year car #25, driven by De Phillippi, Eng, Herta, and Bruno Spengler, was set back with a lug nut problem early in the race and a long trip to the garage for repairs after debris damaged an oil line. It returned to finish fifth in class. Farfus, who switched from #25 to #24 this year, walked away with his second Rolex watch for the win.
The winning #24 car was a contender all the way, battling for the lead with the #911 and #912 Porsches for most of the race. Most of the time the cars were less than a second apart. Throughout the race the BMW appeared to have an advantage over the Porsches in straight-line speed, while the Porsches seemed quicker in the infield.
Krohn took over from Edwards for the final stint, passing Nick Tandy in the second-place Porsche with 46 minutes remaining in the race. Krohn held the lead after the final pit stop, finishing fourteen seconds ahead of Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche that he shared with Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet. Tandy finished third in the #911 Porsche that he shared with Fred Makowiecki and Matt Campbell.
Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette finished fourth. The Corvettes, like the Porsches, are new cars this year. The #25 BMW, in fifth, finished ahead of the #62 Ferrari, which struggled with pace after pre-race BOP adjustments, but ran on the lead lap until it was retired late in the race with damage resulting from tire failure. The #4 Corvette was running at the end, but it had spent eight hours in the garage with a bell housing failure.
BMW Motorsport director Jens Marquardt said, “Two Daytona wins in a row for the BMW M8 GTE. That is a sensational effort from BMW Team RLL, the drivers, and our engineers at BMW Motorsport in Munich. It is hard to compare the two triumphs. In 2019, we only led for one lap and took advantage of our late opportunity to take victory in the rain. This year, we were among the front-runners from the opening lap. We led for longer than any other GTLM car. The race was defined by the fantastic battle between our #24 car and the two Porsches. We witnessed hard but fair racing. That is how it should be. Congratulations to John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Chaz Mostert, and Augusto Farfus on their victory, as well as the entire team in the background. Had the #25 car not needed to come in early for repairs after debris from another car damaged an oil line, then Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler, Colton Herta, and Philipp Eng would definitely have been good for a top result too. We certainly head into the rest of the IMSA season with plenty of momentum now.”
The #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 driven by Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, Dillon Machevern, and Jens Klingmann finished sixth in the GTD class, a lap down from the winning #48 Lamborghini driven by Andrea Caldarelli, Corey Lewis, Bryan Sellers, and Madison Snow.
Like BMW’s GTLM win, the overall victory in the race was a repeat of the 2019 result. The #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi that won in 2019 won again this year. Drivers this year were Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon, Kamui Kobiyashi, and Renger van der Zande.
WeatherTech Series competition resumes with the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 21.—Brian Morgan
[Photo of Turner M6 GT3 courtesy Turner Motorsport. All other photos courtesy BMW Motorsport.]