Last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race – the first race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – held no punches as numerous Prototype cars were relegated to the pits, destined to receive DNFs, while still others were forced to sit out for lengthy repairs. Among the casualties was 2017’s winning car, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R of Wayne Taylor Racing, which suffered five tire punctures during the race, at which point the team made the call to pack it up lest one of their drivers be put in harm’s way.
But it wasn’t all bad news for Cadillac fans, as the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi managed to pull out an overall win at the 56th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, setting new records for number of laps (808) and distance (2,876 miles). The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi wasn’t far behind, finishing second about a minute and ten seconds behind the No. 5 car.
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi, like the No. 10 Konica Minolta car, received a DNF, after the engine developed a misfire that couldn’t be diagnosed or repaired on-site. Both Mazda DPis (Nos. 55 and 77) and both Nissan DPis (Nos. 2 and 22) were forced to retire, as well.
The winning No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac was very nearly debilitated, too, as the team had to contend with tire punctures and an overheating engine. But the team stuck it out, and broke lap and distance records at the race that had stood since 1992 and 1982, respectively.
“I was looking all the time to the water temperature and oil temperature and it is flashing on and off at the same time,” said driver Filipe Albuquerque after the race. “I am seeing the 31 [Whelen Engineering DPi] and the 54 [CORE Autosport LMP2] gaining laps and laps and I had to overtake the GT cars at the same time. It was really hard to manage.
“When you have to back off, it takes heat out of the brakes and you get pick-up on the tires. I started hearing every little thing with the car. In the end, the Cadillac engine behaved very well and was able to handle the high temperatures for the win.”