Once again the class of the Latin American pilots was revealed within the American automobile competition after Brazilians Christian Fittipaldi and Felipe Nasr with their respective teams were proclaimed champions and runners-up in the 56th edition of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.
Fittipaldi, 47, along with his teammates, the Portuguese Joao Barbosa and Filipe Albuquerque, completed 808 laps of the Daytona International Speedway circuit and took the victory after having driven without mechanical failures his Cadillac DPI No.5 Mustang Sampling team Express Racing Action
As expected the champion team was the one that his car had better performance in terms of speed, but especially to the endurance of a test of so much duration.
The experience of Fittipaldi, had already won the test on two previous occasions, in the 2004 and 20014 editions, which already had a partner Barbosa, who in turn had also won in 2010, made the difference in favor of the new champions.
While Albuquerque, who achieved his first title, had the honor of being the one to drive the final turn of the race and cross the finish line at the wheel of the Cadillac DPi champion.
“Having won the race for the third time is something very special that leaves you with great satisfaction because all the work and effort that the team did in the end was rewarded with success,” said Fittipaldi. “My teammates have been sensational and the staff that has been preparing the race for months.”
The great work done by the Mustang Sampling team was reflected in the two new brands that they established in the legendary race of prototypes and resistance.
The winning Cadillac DPi completed 808 laps at the Daytona International Speedway, spraying the 762 that had been established in the 1992 edition by the Japanese Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki with the Swedish Anders Oloffson with the prototype Nissan R9a CP.
Fittipaldi, Barbosa and Albuquerque completed lap number 763 when there was still more than an hour to go.
Due to the new configuration of the circuit, with greater distance each lap, the other established mark was the traveled distance of 2,876.48 miles (4,629.23 kilometers), which exceeded that achieved in 1982, of 2,760 miles (4,441.78). kilometers).
The champion team achieved the second mark after having completed 25 more minutes of the race since they reached 763 laps.
“It is another reason for satisfaction and showed that we were always in control of the race before the great performance that our car had at all times,” said Fittipaldi.
His compatriot the young Felipe Nasr, of 25 years, also confirmed the good sensations that had had during the trainings and the tests of classification and next to his companions Stuart Middleton, Eric Curran and Mike Conway managed to enter in second place with the other monoplace Cadillac DPi of the Whelen Engineering Rancing team.
Barely 1: 10.544 of difference with the champions, a time that confirmed that they were also very close to victory when the last turn at the wheel of the Dadillac DPi No.31 was Middleton.
“You have the frustration of having been very close to the great victory, but in the end you are also satisfied that you managed to finish the race in second place,” Nasr said. “It’s a unique experience that I hope to repeat as many times as I can.”
Certainly the veterans, his compatriot Helio Castroneves and the Colombian Juan Pablo Montoya, in the end had to settle for ninth and tenth, respectively, but they were without discussion the pilots who were also in the fight for the title until in the last part of the race began to have mechanical problems with their prototype Acura DPi Team Penske.
Both cars with No.7 and No.6, respectively, even to the end remained in the fight to overcome positions, but finished the race 15 laps behind the champions.
“We went very well, with great control, until we had the mechanical problems that made us lose a time that it was impossible to overcome, although we fought until the end because the whole team did an exceptional job,” said Castroneves, three times champion. the 500 Miles of Indianapolis, which was looking for its first title in the test.
The presence of both drivers, Montoya has three titles to his credit, along with the Spanish Fernando Alonso, who again created a whole “Alonsomanía” off the track, made the 56th edition of the 24 Hours of Daytona record the highest interest and attendance of spectators of its history.
Together with them, four other Latin American drivers completed a great race, such as the Brazilian American Gustavo Menezes, the 23 year old, who finished seventh with the ORECA LMP2 prototype of the JDC-Miller Motorsports team, in which he had Chris as a teammate. Miller, Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg.
While the Colombians Sebastián Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman along with the Mexican Roberto González and the Texan Nicholas Boulle occupied the twelfth place with the Ligier LMP2 car of the AFS / PR1 team, Mathiase Motorsports.