The dust and flying rubber bits have finally settled, and the teams and crews are homeward-bound. The Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona was one for the books—literally the record books. The fans in attendance would agree that the weather was the best in years for this IMSA kick-off event, which likely contributed to the record attendance.
There were other records set, too. The Meyer Shank Racing’s team won its second consecutive Rolex 24 in the #60 Auto Nation Acura. Driver Helio Castroneves became the first driver to win the Rolex 24 in three consecutive calendar years. And while the RLL Racing team did not set those types of records, it did record a first with the inaugural race of its new Hybrid V8 GTP cars.
If you like to see good-looking cars fly around the track, the BMW GTPs held serve. If you want to see them win, it’s fortunate that the season has many more races ahead. The #24 car finished sixth, five laps down, much of that possibly due to the BMWs’ relative lack of pace and a quick trip to the garage to address some braking issues. The #25 car struggled throughout the night with electrical issues, eventually leading to a ninth-place finish.
The #24 car was driven by Philipp Eng, Augustus Farfus, Marco Wittmann, and Colton Herta; #25 was driven by Connor De Phillippi, Nick Yelloly, Sheldon van der Linde, and Colton Herta (who drove that car in addition to #24!).
Many predicted challenges for the GTP cars, since this was their first race—and an arduous 24-hour competition at that. Indeed, some were predicting that none of the GTP cars would finish, but BMW was pleased that both of its entries crossed the finish line; because BMW was the last manufacturer to join the program, the team has had much less development and testing time for the cars. For BMW fans, it was still exciting to see the BMW Hybrid V8 GTP out there breaking new ground.
There were many other highlights throughout the weekend, including seeing BMW chairman Oliver Zipse wave the green flag to start the Rolex 24. BMW CCA members welcomed the chairman, along with BMW’s Tom Plucinsky, Frank van Meel, and Maximilian Schöberl, who spent time sharing BMW insights with our members.
Other BMW news—with a global impact—included the worldwide debut of the 2024 M3 CS, and the use of the M4 CSL and the BNW XM as Daytona safety cars.
Another highlight was the touching tribute by Turner Motorsport for Gary Bossert. A long-time BMW CCA member and active club racer, Bossert passed away last year. Turner Motorsport added his name to the A-pillar of the #96 M4 GT3 car, so technically, Bossert—or at least his name—made 695 laps at Daytona this past weekend.
While the results for BMW in Friday’s BMW M Endurance Challenge weren’t what fans might have hoped for, it was still great to see five new M4 GT4s race around Daytona in the kick-off race for the Michelin Pilot Challenge season. Leading the BMW pack, Stephen Cameron Racing’s #43 placed thirteenth with Sean Quinlan and Gregory Liefooghe driving.
Next for BMW, Robby Foley, Vincent Barletta, and Jens Klingmann piloted the #96 car to an eighteenth-place GS Class finish.
The next BMW to cross the line was also the last one to cross it; Turner’s other car, #95 driven by Robert Megennis and Cameron Lawrence, placed 26th in class.
Auto Technic Racing’s #25 car, driven by JCD Dubets and Rob Walker, retired with ten minutes remaining, officially placing 28th in class. Fast Track Racing’s #26 car officially placed 29th; it was driven by Garrett Adams, Toby Grahovec, and Neil Verhagen.
In the Rolex 24, one of the two M4 GT3 cars from Turner ran in the GTD Pro Class. The #95 car, looking fantastic in its new McIntosh livery, was driven by Bill Auberlen, Chandler Hull, Bruno Spengler, and John Edwards. They were still in the hunt until a power-steering issue ended their race three hours early.
The #96 car, driven by Robby Foley, Patrick Gallagher, Michael Dinan, and Jens Klingmann, ran in GTD, placing seventeenth in class 34 laps off the pace. Paul Miller Racing’s GTD entrant, Car #1 in a new-look Quartz Oil livery, placed eighth in class. It was driven by Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow, Corey Lewis, and Maxime Martin.
All in all, it was a promising beginning to an exciting season—and a new era in endurance-car racing!—Kyle van Hoften
For video interviews, photos, and more details of the weekend’s events, be sure to check out Kyle van Hoften’s live blog from Daytona here.