Acura Survives Treacherous Rolex 24 Hours Race, Scores Podium Finish
Heavy rains, low visibility and several on-track accidents made for tough conditions at this years Rolex 24 Hours race at Daytona.
Heavy rain and resulting low visibility descended upon the Daytona International Speedway just past the mid-point in this weekend’s Rolex 24.
For the first time in history, the race was red flagged twice due to wet conditions, first for an hour, 45 minutes early Sunday morning; and a for second and final time at 12:39 p.m. Race officials waited for conditions to improve enough to resume competition, but eventually displayed the checkered flags to end the race 10-minutes shy of the scheduled 24 hours.
When the opening round of the 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship had concluded, Acura Team Penske scored a third-place result overall and in the Daytona Prototype International category, while Meyer Shank Racing came away with a fifth-place finish in the GT Daytona class for the Acura NSX GT3 Evo.
Acura Team Penske
The Acura Team Penske ARX-05 prototypes featured throughout the first half of the 24-hour endurance contest, running 1-2 at the end of the first hour, and again at the eighth and ninth hours. Each car took additional, individual turns at the front of the field through the first half of the contest.
However, with less than five hours remaining, the #6 ARX-05 of Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud went to the garage to repair an external oil system issue. The Acura returned to the track, but was now 18 laps off the pace. The rain, frequent cautions and race stoppage left them sixth at the finish.
The #7 Acura continued to challenge for the lead through the second and final race stoppage, taking the final Red Flag – and eventual checkers – in third for the driver lineup of Helio Castroneves, Ricky Taylor and Alexander Rossi.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo
Meyer Shank Racing brought its pair of NSX GT3 Evos to start the new season on a positive note, running at or near the top of the competitive and large 23-car GT Daytona field.
Starting third with a driver lineup featuring Mario Farnbacher, Trent Hindman, Justin Marks and A.J. Allmendinger, the #86 MSR Acura moved into the lead in the first hour and led several times thereafter as no less than a dozen GTDs remained on the lead lap and in contention throughout the first 14 hours of the race. Pit stops, spins and collisions in the final hour on track jumbled the running order, but the #86 Acura survived to finish fifth.
The arrival of rain in the 14th hour began to separate the contenders, including the second MSR Acura of Katherine Legge, Simona De Silvestro, Bia Figueiredo and Christina Nielsen. The all-star female driver lineup, assembled by team principal Jackie Heinricher with support from Caterpillar, was running fifth when damage from a deflated tire forced the #57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo to the garage for repairs. As a result, the car returned to action 10 laps in arrears to the leaders, and finished an unrepresentative 13th.
The 2019 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now moves to central Florida for the 67th annual 12 Hours of Sebring, March 16 in Sebring, Fla.
Video recaps from this weekend’s Rolex 24 endurance race at Daytona International Speedway are being posted on the “Honda Racing/HPD” YouTube channel. Produced by the Carolinas Production Group, the video packages can be found in the 2019 HPD Trackside Video Playlist here.