It is strange to have the clock reaffirm that the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona has already been underway for twelve hours! The race began at 1:45 p.m. (Daytona time) on Saturday and will end at—you guessed it math whizzes—1:45 p.m. on Sunday. As the evening continues, we’re only halfway there! Here are some of the highlights from Saturday:
The BMW Hybrid V8 GTP cars running with RLL Racing have certainly been top of mind for many of the BMW fans in Daytona. In fact, the lapel pin for this year’s Rolex 24 Hours shows the BMW Hybrid V8 behind the event logo! As the race neared its halfway point, the #24 car climbed as high as third place and has mostly bounced between fifth and seventh as cars pit for fuel and driver changes. The #25 car has had its share of growing pains, but the crew and drivers have certainly been working hard to keep it in the race. It is currently ninth, but continues to move up through the deep field.
As of midnight, Turner Motorsport’s M4 GT3 (in its new McIntosh livery) is sitting in seventh in GTD Pro while the #96 car was in the nineteenth place. Paul Miller Racing’s M4 GT3 was in tenth place and is charging hard through the night.
The BMW CCA hospitality tent has been bustling on Saturday as more as more fans are descending on Daytona International Speedway. In addition to serving as a comfortable retreat from the crowds, the tent served as a great host for BMW executives who came by and gave updates on the race and the company.
One long-time BMW CCA member did not get a chance to come by the tent, but we’ll forgive him. Former West Regional President, Nick Owen, was at Daytona, but in a much different capacity for this race. Owen is at the event with Fast Track Racing as they campaigned their new M4 GT4 in Friday’s BMW M Endurance Challenge.
“After four years with Fast Track Racing, it was great to debut the new BMW M4 GT4 to kick off the Michelin Pilot Challenge,” Owen said Saturday. “We had three good days of testing including the previous weeks Roar Before the 24, and with this race, have a good idea how the car behaves and how our setup can enable us to be even faster. We had a great stint with our rookie IMSA driver, Garret Adams, too. There was some contact late in the race and we encountered some little gremlins that ultimately caused us to retire early with twenty minutes left, but we’re already looking forward to Sebring in March!
“I want to say thank you to all the BMW CCA members who came out to support us. Without you, I would never have gotten into racing let alone made it to my first Daytona!”
Saturday morning also provided a few bonus treats during the Grid Walk and the running of many of the historic IMSA cars on display. BMW fans enjoyed seeing the 2015 Z4 GTLM car out on the track among the maybe fifteen other classics. Then, before the start of the race, the grid and adjacent lawn were packed with possibly the biggest crowd in years.
That’s a wrap for Saturday! The teams continue to run through the night and will greet the fans again on Sunday morning for the last quarter of the race!—Kyle van Hoften