DAYTONA, Fla. Jan. 31, 2016 – The first race of the 2016 IMSA WeatherTech Championship delivered the GTLM class competition that fans anticipated and more as Michelin technical partners from Corvette, Porsche, BMW, Ferrari, and Ford battled throughout the Rolex 24 At Daytona.
The 24 hour race was decided by a mere 34 thousandths of a second as the two factory Corvette Racing C7.Rs went flat out, totally free of team orders for the final 30 minutes.
The 2015 Le Mans 24 GT class winners Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, teaming here with Marcel Fassler, held off a stirring challenge by the defending Rolex 24 Hours At Daytona GTLM champions, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, here with Mike Rockenfeller, to claim a dramatic victory.
“Our goal at Michelin is to enable all of our technical partners to perform at their very best and we are pleased that our teams ran at exceptionally high levels in all conditions throughout the weekend” said Chris Baker, Director of Motorsport, Michelin North America.
“The fact that Michelin-equipped GTLM cars took the first seven places overall during the wet qualifying session was gratifying and the consistency of our products in dry conditions—at the blistering pace set by the two Corvettes and the #912 Porsche during the last two hours of the race—was very satisfying as well,” said Baker.
Having taken the lead from Porsche North America’s Earl Bamber with 35 minutes remaining, Gavin tried to establish a lead that could withstand a charge by Garcia who had more fuel and fresher MICHELIN tires.
Garcia was not to be denied, reeling off a string of fast laps that erased the deficit and momentarily passed Gavin with three laps remaining only to be repassed at the exit of the turn.
BMW, Ferrari and Ford rolled out their latest racers with the Ferrari 488 GTE from Scuderia Corsa finishing fourth and the BMW M6 GTLM which finished fifth at the 3.56 mile Daytona International Speedway circuit The new Ford GTs encountered some new car trials. The race debut for the GTs showed them to have considerable pace with a best lap that topped the speed charts until the final hour.
“It was absolutely tooth and nail the entire race,” said Gavin. “Porsche, BMW, Ferrari and Ford were all fast and we were just pushing and pushing the entire race.”