The Rolex 24 kicked-off the endurance season with the #7 Porsche coming home with the overall win while fighting the #31 Cadillac for most of the race.
At around 13:40 EST the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona got underway with pole sitter Pipo Drani getting the early jump on the rest of the field, to lead into turn one with the #06 Porsche of Felipe Nasr going with him to take second from Bourdais.
It didn’t take long for things to head south though, as the #78 Forte Racing Lamborghini went off in a big way, into the outside wall of the middle part of the Le Mans chicane, which brought out the first full course yellow.
The race got going again around 20 minutes later, but not for long as just before the end of the first hour the leading GTD Pro #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus hit a mid-spin Dennis Andersen in his MDK by High Class Racing #20 Oreca at the second corner.
Both cars sustained heavy damage in the incident, after stopping they rejoined the race, but the #20 High Class Oreca retired after 185 laps completed, with the #14 Lexus making it to 397 laps complete.
At the same time the #11, #18, and #99 Oreca’s went off at the Le Mans Chicane, making minimal contact, but this was enough to bring the full course yellow out again.
The hectic start wasn’t over yet though, as at the exit to the Le Mans Chicane, at the end of the second hour, Steven Thomas got unsettled and went heavily straight on into the outside SAFER barrier.
Therefore, as a result of the damage sustained in the accident, the #11 JDC-Miller Motorsports LMP2 car became the first retirement of the race.
After the incident-filled start, the race settled down a little bit, with the main runners at the front of the field being the #31 Whelen Cadillac, #01 Cadillac, and #7 Porsche all having periods of the race where they headed the field.
Then with just under 16 hours still to go in the race, the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura driven by Filipe Albuquerque reported he could smell burning in the car, and three seconds later the whole thing shut off.
This firmly put the car out of contention, even though it rejoined the field after being towed back to the pits, but didn’t finish as it retired with just under an hour and 30 minutes to go in the race.
Then one of the lead protagonists exited stage left, as Sebastian Bourdais in the #01 Caddy went straight on in a cloud of smoke at turn 5, after he gained a puncture as a result of running over debris, with the car rejoining and sparking its way to the pits.
Renger Van Der Zande got the car back onto the lead lap, but ultimately fell away as it stopped with ten hours and 20 minutes to go, eventually retiring.
The two BMW’s races were looking promising, with them running in or near the top three for most of the race, until the #24 driven by Dries Vanthoor shut off with just over 11 hours to go in the race.
The car returned to the circuit around 30 minutes later, but out of the lead race with itself 12 laps down from the lead lap.
A couple of hours later, with nine hours to go in the race, the #25 being driven by Connor De Phillippi was running in third position, until it was taken back to the garages, which dropped it down nine laps from the lead.
Meanwhile, in the GTD Pro class, the #3 Pratt Miller Motorsport Corvette Z06 was running around the circuit semi-on fire.
This was a result of damage on the rear right of the car, which seemed to be leaking fluid, which the team put up with from seven hours to four hours to go, when the car finally came in to get it repaired, dropping them from third in class.
Meanwhile, in the early hours, the lead battle had come down to the #6 Porsche, #7 Porshe, and #31 Cadillac.
The #6 fell away when it had to serve a third ten-second Stop n Go penalty for failure to control powertrain parameters, and Kevin Estre going straight on at the first Horse Shoe with cold tyres.
Back in the GTD class, it was stealing the show with four hours to go in the race, as the #53 Winward Racing Mercedes held the lead of the class while going three wide into turn one with the #023 Triarsi Competizione, and the Risi Competition #62 Ferrari of James Calado who went around the outside of them both to lead the whole of GTD.
After being one of the main contenders in GTD Pro, the #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW’s charge ended when the front right wheel came loose after a pit stop with just under two hours remaining in the race.
Coming down to the last hour of the race Tom Blomqvist led the way in the GTP field with an outrageous overtake using the #023 Triarsi Ferrari to go around the outside of Felipe Nasr in the #7 at turn one.
After nearly 24 Hours of racing, it wasn’t over, as the sole remaining #12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus caught fire leaving the pitlane, which brought out one final Full Course Yellow.
After a pit stop the #7 Porsche came out of the pitlane back in the lead of the race, which it held when the race got going with just about 30 minutes remaining.
Despite pressure from Tom Blomqvist, Felipe Nasr held on to win the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona for the Porsche #7 team of Dane Cameron, Matt Campbell, and Josef Newgarden.
In the end, Whelen’s #31 Cadillac claimed second position overall, and a lot further back despite a valiant effort was the #40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura in 3rd.
Then in the LMP2 class, it was the #18 Era Motorsports Oreca that prevailed with drivers Ryan Dalziel, Dwight Merriman, Christian Rasmussen, and Connor Zilisch.
Following them was the #04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR in second and the #74 Riley Oreca in third .
Moving to the GTD Pro field the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari driven by Daniel Serra, James Calado, Alessandro Pier Guidi, and Davide Rigon took the win in class and overall, in GTD.
In second in that class was the #77 AO Racing Porsche (Rexy), followed in third by the #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW.
Then down in the GTD class the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes won and was driven by Daniel Morad, Indy Dontje, Phillip Eliss, and Russell Ward.
Following them in second was the #21 AF Corse Ferrari, and in third was the #34 Conquest Racing Ferrari.