After 24 hours – Chip Ganassi’s 01 and 02 Daytona Prototypes powered by Dinan-BMW 5.0L V8′s have won the 49th 24 Hours of Daytona. In the course of 23 hours and 58 minutes of hard racing, the finishing line up would be determined in the last two minutes and on the last lap with the 02 Chip Ganassi Racing feeling the pressure of the #9 Action Express Porsche Daytona Prototype.
This win marks the first time a BMW earned an overall win in the 24 Hours of Daytona since 1976 when a similarly blue and red BMW 3.0 CSL took home a victory. This is also the first time BMW had earned a 1-2 finish in the historic race.
While the win was well-earned, the race wasn’t always so certain. Joey Hand took an unfortunate penalty when he clipped a tire leaving the pits and had to absorb a 30-second penalty effectively leaving him 4th after an incredible drive and three back-to-back stints that left Joey complaining of a numb right foot. However, it was ultimately worth the discomfort as Joey’s driving decimated the penalty and putting the 01 car back into contention for Scott Pruett when he took over for the final stint. Pit strategy allowed Scott Pruett to get by his Ganassi team member Scott Dixon in the 02 car during the closing hours of the race.
Reportedly, there were no team orders between the 01 Target/TELMEX BMW and 02 TELMEX/Target BMW other than “Just don’t take each other out!” This victory marks Joey Hand and Graham Rahal’s first 24 Hours of Daytona victory and they’ll certainly enjoy putting on their brand new stainless steel Rolex Daytona wrist watches!
In GT, BMW did not fair as well as their Daytona Prototype brethren. Turner Motorsport’s brand new E92 M3 entrant held strong throughout the race but was unfortunately sidelined for many laps when a gearbox repair sent the M3 int the pits during the night. However, the Turner M3 proved to be a very quick car with a great driver line-up when it held strong in second place in GT just behind the historic Brumos Porsche 911 GT3 before the gearbox issue reared its head. The mechanical failures that struck the Turner and Brumos teams opened up a gap in the GT3 category for the TRG Porsche to slip into the lead and ultimately win their class and finish first in class and twelve overall just behind the prototypes. The Turner M3 finished 17th in class and 32nd overall.
Another small victory, but victory nonetheless, was the 1 M Coupe which had a very successful stint lapping the Daytona International Speedway circuit over the entire 24 hour race as the official pace car. This was the first official duties the 1 M Coupe had as a pace car and the Valencia Orange two-door executed them flawlessly. If anyone has any doubts before placing an order – the 1 M sounds incredible and looks spectacular in the release color of Valencia Orange.
Overall, the 1-2 victory for BMW is an incredible finish – in a race more about retention than outright performance, the Dinan-BMW V8′s managed to do the nigh unbelievable and both go the distance and hold of the typically fierce competition from the Porsche’s. While the GT class finish for Turner Motorsport’s M3 wasn’t as well as had hoped, especially given their performance, they will be back to fight against RX8′s, 430′s and GT3′s in the Grand Prix of Miami in early March at the Homestead Miami Speedway.