The lead changed hands more than 40 times as the race went right down to the wire before triggering wild celebrations. BMW Team RLL won the opening round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Daytona (USA) for the second season in a row.
John Edwards (USA), Jesse Krohn (FIN), Augusto Farfus (BRA) and Chaz Mostert (AUS) took victory in the GTLM class at the wheel of the #24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE at ‘Daytona International Speedway’. The #25 car finished fifth. At the head of the field, the BMW works drivers thrilled GT fans with magnificent overtaking manoeuvres to finish ahead of two Porsche cars in second and third place.
BMW Team RLL tasted victory at Daytona in 2019. Back then, Farfus gave an impressive final stint to clinch first place at the Florida endurance classic. This time, it was Krohn who took the wheel for the last stint of the race. He overtook the leading #911 Porsche with 46 minutes of the race remaining. Shortly thereafter, he came in for his final pit stop, following which he successfully defended his lead to the finish. Krohn also set the fastest lap of the race with a time of 1:42.168 minutes.
This latest triumph sees BMW Motorsport add another chapter to its success story at Daytona where BMW first won at the ‘World Center of Racing’ back in 1976 with the BMW 3.0 CSL. The BMW M3 GTR then took class wins in 1997 and 1998. Daytona prototypes with BMW engines crossed the finish line in first place in 2011 and 2013. This was the fourth GTLM victory in the IMSA series for the BMW M8 GTE.
Connor De Phillippi (USA), Bruno Spengler (CAN), Philipp Eng (AUT) and Colton Herta (USA), who alternated at the wheel of the #25 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, were unfortunate. Their car ran over debris which damaged an oil line in the early stages of the race. That necessitated a long stop for repairs which saw the quartet drop well down the field. As a result, fifth place was the best the #25 car could achieve.
In the GTD class, the Turner Motorsport team was challenging for a top result at the season-opener in the #96 BMW M6 GT3. BMW works driver Jens Klingmann (GER), Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern (all USA) finished sixth after 763 laps.
For Dan Harper (GBR), Neil Verhagen (USA) and Max Hesse (GER) – the members of the new BMW Junior Team – the victory for the BMW M8 GTE was the icing on the cake at the end of an eventful weekend. The three Juniors were involved in the processes within BMW Team RLL and gained valuable experience behind the scenes. This included a visit to Radio Le Mans, as well as the honour of waving the start flag for the BMW Endurance Challenge, Friday’s opening round of this season’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place on 21stMarch 2020 at Sebring (USA).