Acura have dominated the debut of hybrid engines in North American sports car racing with a 1-2 finish at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, where Helio Castroneves and the automaker won the prestigious 24-hour race for a third consecutive year.
Castroneves won the Rolex in 2021 in an Acura with Wayne Taylor Racing and won with Meyer Shank Racing the last two seasons.
Castroneves, who turns 48 in May, was overcome with emotion after Tom Blomqvist closed out the victory.
The Brazilian led his teammates, who included fellow Indycar star Simon Pagenaud and MSR newcomer Colin Braun, in his signature “Spiderman” celebratory climbing of the fence.
“It’s a very tough sport. You lose more than you win,” Castroneves said. “It did touch me. That’s why I love this sport so much. It is very hard and when you get it, you celebrate.”
Castroneves has been a huge part of building Meyer Shank Racing, which since helping Castroneves win a record-tying fourth Indianapolis 500 in 2021 has added consecutive Rolex titles and the IMSA championship.
Despite being the reigning champions, MSR and Acura were a bit of an unknown ahead of Daytona.
The twice-round-the-clock endurance race this year marked the launch of a new hybrid era of racing, and the change in technology for IMSA’s top GTP class makes it the only motor sports series in North America to race with hybrid engines.
The move has been a massive draw to automakers eager to compete in motor sports with technology that relates to its road cars.
As such, the top GTP class doubled its manufacturers from last year’s Rolex from two to four this season, and Daytona International Speedway officials said the crowd for the Saturday-to-Sunday race was the largest in its 61 years.
The fans came for a showdown between some of the top carmakers in the world.
Acura put forth a pair of entries with Michael Shank and Wayne Taylor, who partnered only last month with Michael Andretti. Porsche lured Roger Penske back to sports car racing with two cars, while BMW persuaded Bobby Rahal to move his program up to IMSA’s top class. Cadillac came strong with three entries, two from Chip Ganassi Racing and a third from Whelen Engineering.
But the entire buildup to the launch turned into a nervous hand-wringing over durability concerns, as all nine GTP teams worried that the new technology and supply chain issues would prevent the cars from completing a 24-hour race.
Alas, one of Rahal’s BMWs had an early mechanical problem, and then both of Penske’s Porsches broke. It was a bitter blow for Porsche, who with Penske had primarily done all the development work for the GTP move to hybrid engines.
But Acura and Cadillac were able to manage their first race kinks, and a restart with under 30 minutes remaining had both Acuras and two Cadillacs in contention for the overall win.
It was Blomqvist closing it out in the No. 60 Acura. He held off Filipe Albuquerque in the Acura for Taylor/Andretti on the restart and pretty much coasted his way to the win.
Denial of responsibility! insideheadline is an automatic aggregator around the global media. All the content are available free on Internet. We have just arranged it in one platform for educational purpose only. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials on our website, please contact us by email – [email protected]. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.