24-hour Daytona ... BMW M8 GTE Team RLL wins GTLM


Daytona, 26th January, 2020 

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.

Porsche 911 RSR celebrates successful USA premiere with double podium

The new Porsche 911 RSR celebrated a successful North American debut with a double podium at the 24 Hours of Daytona. After a strong team effort, the two ca. 515-hp nine-elevens fielded by the Porsche GT Team finished on second and third place. Porsche, which won the manufacturers’ championship in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship last year, is now second in the points after Daytona.

>From start to finish, the GT racers from Weissach ran like clockwork at their first 24-hour race. Not a single technical problem hampered the premiere, at which the two new 911 RSR took turns at the lead over most of the distance. In a top-class and gripping end phase, after 786 laps, Porsche was just several seconds shy of claiming another victory at the 24-hour classic in the USA after 2014.

The two Porsche 911 RSR had already turned heads, qualifying on the first two grid spots in the GTLM class. In the race, Laurens Vanthoor (Belgium), Earl Bamber (New Zealand) and Mathieu Jaminet (France) followed up on this top performance, claiming second place in the No. 912 vehicle, with the No. 911 sister car with the driver trio Frédéric Makowiecki (France), Nick Tandy (Great Britain) and Matt Campbell (Australia) finishing third. With flawless stints, a perfect strategy and swift pit stops, both crews set the pace at the front.

In the final few hours, things turned dramatic on the International Daytona Speedway. In bright sunshine, spectators were treated to a spectacular finale with overtaking manoeuvres and changes at the front. The six Porsche works drivers were rewarded with a double podium and their team for a successful weekend, making the outstanding debut of the new Porsche 911 RSR perfect.

The Porsche customer teams also put in a strong performance at the 24 Hours of Daytona. Wright Motorsports with the American drivers Patrick Long, Ryan Hardwick, Anthony Imperato and the Austrian Klaus Bachler made up many positions in the second half of the race, and managed to finish fourth in the GTD class despite sustaining slight damages to the underbody of their No. 16 Porsche 911 GT3 R. Behind them, Black Swan Racing also put in a spirited chase through the field to take fifth place with drivers Sven Müller (Germany), Jeroen Bleekemolen (Netherlands), Timothy Pappas (USA) and Trenton Estep (USA) at the wheel of the No. 54 entry. The polesitters from the Pfaff Motorsports team experienced bad luck. After leading over a long stretch, a drive-shaft defect relegated the No. 9 car shared by Patrick Pilet (France), Dennis Olsen (Norway), Zach Robichon (Canada) and Lars Kern (Germany) far down the field, with the quartet ultimately concluding the Daytona 24-hour race on 13th.


Ferrari in trouble six hours before finish

Six hours from the chequered flag, with the first light of dawn presaging a rain-free day, the Ferraris are well out of the fight for the podium. Davide Rigon is in fifth place in the 488 GTE of Risi Competizione while Toni Vilander is sixth in the 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Scuderia Corsa.

GTLM. The absence of any Full Course Yellows prevented the Ferrari 488 GTE in the GTLM class from taking on its rivals, with the distance from the leaders gradually growing to a full lap. Maranello’s car was unable to contain the gap, despite a perfect performance by the drivers who took turns at the wheel just before dawn. The 488 GTE has no chance of matching the performance of the other cars because of a very penalising BoP. Davide Rigon currently occupies fifth position, one lap behind the leader.

GTD. After being among the frontrunners, the Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Scuderia Corsa slipped back two laps off the pace due to problems in replacing its brake pads. Up to then, the car had recorded some excellent lap times. At the stroke of the sixth hour, Toni Vilander is in sixth position.

Comments on the race
Klaus Fröhlich (Member of the Board of Management of BMW AG, Development)

“That was an extremely exciting race. The final hours were particularly tense, with the lead changing hands many times. Today’s victory for BMW Team RLL at the Daytona 24-hour race ranks very highly in many regards. It was the result of excellent teamwork between the team, drivers and our engineers. The operative excellence of BMW Team RLL was remarkable. 24 hours without a single mistake, under great pressure throughout the entire race. Compliments to everyone. The same goes for our quartet of drivers, who gave a perfect performance. Last but not least, our BMW M8 GTE once again demonstrated its winning genes at the scene of last year’s triumph. In doing so, it underlined the fact that this car is one of the top GT cars out there right now. The BMW M8 GTE showed no signs of weakness in this 24-hour sprint. It was among the leaders all race and led for more kilometres than anyone else. And all that against extremely strong opposition. We certainly put on a display of great motor racing for the fans and spectators. That was a strong start to the year for BMW Motorsport, including in other categories. Congratulations to all involved. Long may it continue.”

Jens Marquardt (BMW Group Motorsport Director)
“Two Daytona wins in a row for the BMW M8 GTE. That is a sensational effort from BMW Team RLL, the drivers and our engineers at BMW Motorsport in Munich. It is hard to compare the two triumphs. In 2019, we only led for one lap and took advantage of our late opportunity to take victory in the rain. This year, we were among the front-runners from the opening lap. We led for longer than any other GTLM car. The race was defined by the fantastic battle between our #24 car and the two Porsches. We witnessed hard but fair racing. That is how it should be. Congratulations to John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Chaz Mostert and Augusto Farfus on their victory, as well as the entire team in the background. Had the #25 car not needed to come in early for repairs after debris from another car damaged an oil line, then Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler, Colton Herta and Philipp Eng would definitely have been good for a top result too. We certainly head into the rest of the IMSA season with plenty of momentum now.”

Bobby Rahal (Team Principal BMW Team RLL)
“Whoever thought we were just lucky to win last year were shown otherwise today. That was a battle for 24 hours. The drivers did a fantastic job, and the same goes for the crew. We did not make any mistakes. I feel sorry for the guys in the #25 car, as they would also have finished further up the field without the incident. On the whole, I am delighted for my team and BMW Motorsport. Congratulations to Porsche and Corvette, who were good from the word go with their new cars. We are simply very happy today.”

John Edwards (#24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 1stplace)
“I am very rarely speechless – but that is the case today. I had every faith in Jesse bringing it home at the end. And he did it. It was a really hard fight, as always in the GTLM class. The many battles were extremely tiring, particularly during my triple stint. This is definitely the biggest success of my career. I’m overjoyed."

Jesse Krohn (#24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 1stplace)
“What a race! It feels absolutely incredible. This is my third year in the GTLM class – and my first victory. We have come so close so often, and now we have actually done it here at Daytona. The team was awesome. Thank you very much to BMW Motorsport and RLL for trusting me to take the final stint of the race. Every single person did a mega job. I cannot believe that we are on the very top step of the podium.”

Augusto Farfus (#24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 1stplace)
“I am speechless. That was the best 24-hour race I have driven in my whole life. It was extremely fast, extremely close, and you could not afford to make any mistakes. We drove a perfect race: team, strategy, drivers, mechanics. The car worked well throughout the entire race. You don’t get through the full 24 hours like that very often. To win this race twice in a row is exceptional.”

Chaz Mostert (#24 MOTUL BMW M8 GTE, 1stplace)
“Incredible! This is my biggest win since Bathurst 2014. My world-class team-mates carried me through this race. Thank you very much to BMW Motorsport and RLL for allowing me to be involved. In 2019, the other car won. Back then, I could not imagine how it must feel for those guys. Now it was me stood on the top step of the podium. That is something very special.”

Pascal Zurlinden (Director GT Works Motorsport)
“That was a perfect debut for the new Porsche 911 RSR. At the first race in the USA – and one over 24 hours – we didn’t experience a single technical problem and ended up on the podium with both cars. From the team effort to the strategy right through to the work in the pitlane, everything ran smoothly and flawlessly. At the next race in Sebring, we want to defend our victory from last year.”

Nick Tandy (Porsche 911 RSR #911)
“It’s not often that you make it through a 24-hour race without making any mistakes. It’s remarkable and a great start to the season for the new 911 RSR. Even though it wasn’t quite enough today, we’re all the more determined to go all-out and climb to the top step of the podium again in the future.”

Frédéric Makowiecki (Porsche 911 RSR #911)
“It was a clean race that we can be proud of. The car ran well from start to finish. Our pit crew did an awesome job. There’s nothing to improve on. Our pace was good, too, but in the end it wasn’t quite enough to win.”

Matt Campbell (Porsche 911 RSR #911)
“We pushed hard right from the start, stayed amongst the frontrunners for 24 hours and led for a long time. To kick off the season on the podium with the two new RSR is a fantastic start to the 2020 racing year.”

Earl Bamber (Porsche 911 RSR #912)
We fought to the finish and tried everything. Our car ran excellently. However, one of our rivals was slightly faster. I’m still very proud, because the team worked brilliantly together and after 24 hours we’re on the podium with the two new Porsche 911 RSR.”

Mathieu Jaminet (Porsche 911 RSR #912)
“I have mixed feelings after this race about whether I should be happy or not with second place. We drove a perfect race and maintained a steady pace supported by a highly motivated team. But the competition was a little better and you have to acknowledge that.”

Laurens Vanthoor (Porsche 911 RSR #912)
“We had our eye on winning, but unfortunately it wasn’t quite enough. I can’t say what we did wrong. The new RSR ran beautifully, the team and drivers did a great job. I just have to come back next year to finally try to win at Daytona after my successes at Le Mans, Spa-Francorchamps and the 24-hour race at the Nürburgring.”

Patrick Long (Porsche 911 GT3 R #16)
“I’m actually quite satisfied with the race. We constantly had to catch up, but we did this very well as a team with the right pi-stop strategy. Towards the end of the race, we lacked the pace compared to the three competitors in front of us. All in all, it was a good start to the season for our team.”

Race result
GTLM class
1. Krohn/Edwards/Mostert/Farfus (FIN/USA/AUS/BR), BMW M8 GTE, 786 laps
2. Vanthoor/Bamber/Jaminet (B/NZ/F), Porsche 911 RSR, 786 laps
3. Tandy/Makowiecki/Campbell (GB/F/AUS), Porsche 911 RSR, 786 laps
4 Garcia/Taylor/Catsburg (E/USA/NL), Corvette C8.R, 785 laps
5. De Phillippi/Eng/Spengler/Herta (USA/A/CDN/USA), BMW M8 GTE, 772 laps

Race result
GTD class
1. Snow/Sellers/Lewis/Caldarelli (USA/USA/USA/GB), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 765 laps
2. Potter/Lally/Pumpelly/Mapelli (USA/USA/USA/I), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, 765 laps
3. Bortolotti/Ineichen/Morad/Vanthoor (I/CH/CDN/B), Audi R8 LMS GT3, 764 laps
4. Hardwick/Long/Imperato/Bachler (USA/USA/USA/A) Porsche 911 GT3 R, 764 laps
5. Pappas/Bleekemolen/Estep/Müller (USA/NL/USA/D), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 763 laps
13. Olsen/Robichon/Kern/Pilet (N/CDN/D/F), Porsche 911 GT3 R, 716 laps


The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes place on 21st March 2020 at Sebring (USA).