2011 Daytona 24

Lexus racing car
Image via Wikipedia

I was able to watch parts of the beginning and the end of the Rolex 24 at Daytona this year. I thought it was a really exciting race and obviously very tough on the drivers, teams and cars and I’m glad Chip Ganassi racing were able to get the win and a one two finish in the event. They haven’t been able to show their full potential in the last couple of years after poor strategy and miscommunication cost them last year.

They had two star-studded teams loaded with IndyCar and Nascar talent from their sister teams and the drivers really got the best out of the cars, despite technical problems with the gearbox in the second car early on in the race.

The other great story for me was the return to Daytona of former F1 and Le Mans driver and current BBC commentator Martin Brundle, alongside former team-mate Mark Blundell in the United Autosports entry. They were solid throughout the race despite coming up against the cream of young American talent as well as other drivers from all over the world. To come out of competitive retirement and go on to claim a fourth place finish is a fantastic result.

It was a race of incidents and action, with the race restarted on the last lap after a caution was waved. This bunched up all of the cars and put pressure on the leaders who otherwise would have been safe from attack after building up a good lead. Brundle tried to overtake the third place car on the final entry to the infield section of the Daytona track but went wide and wasn’t able to take it. It was a brave move to try after 24 hours of racing to risk your car on the final lap, but he almost pulled it off. Fourth was still an incredible result given the circumstances.

I didn’t think I would ever be as interested in an American endurance event as I was with this one. I can’t wait to see it next year. I just hope that they do something to make the Daytona Prototype cars less ugly in the not too distant future. At the moment, their roofs are just too high when compared to the sleek Le Mans cars such as the Peugeot 908 and the Audi R18. Nevertheless, even if they do stay the same for the next couple of years, if the racing stays as good as it was this year then the event has nothing to worry about.