A thrilling and highly competitive 59th edition of the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA saw the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi crowned winners for the third consecutive year. Marking the start of Rolex’s motor sport season, the Swiss watch brand has been Title Sponsor of this historic endurance race since 1992, forming part of its long-term commitment to motoring excellence and achievement.
The 2021 Rolex 24 At DAYTONA got underway when the 49-car field crossed the start line on Saturday afternoon at 15:40 local time. The Cadillacs controlled the early pace, but following an impressive charge to the front, due to a series of tactical pit stops and exciting wheel-to-wheel racing, the No. 10 Acura took the lead. With the Rolex clock counting down the final hour, five Daytona Prototype international (DPi) teams still had a chance of victory. The No. 01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi V.R came closest to challenging, only to suffer a devastating puncture with less than eight minutes remaining, relegating them to fifth. After a late comeback from Kamui Kobayashi, the No. 48 Ally Racing Cadillac DPi V.R came in a close second, followed by the No. 55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda RT24-P DPi – the first time that three different manufacturers have shared the podium since 2013.
This year, having recently switched manufacturers, the No. 10 fielded a refreshed driver line-up of defending IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Champions Ricky Taylor and Hélio Castroneves, alongside Filipe Albuquerque and Alexander Rossi. Reflecting on the team’s achievement, Taylor said: “It’s an amazing feeling – so much went in to this, it was definitely a test of trust and a testament to preparation. From the start, the race never slowed down, it was one of the most hectic, intense, flat out 24 hours I’ve ever been a part of; it went right down to the end.” Following the conclusion of the race, the No. 10 drivers were presented with a Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona in recognition of the dedication and excellence required to take victory at the Rolex 24 At DAYTONA.
In the final season for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class before the introduction of the new GTD Pro category, Corvette Racing claimed a dominant one-two with the No. 3 coming home 3.519 seconds ahead of its sister No. 4 car. The GT Daytona (GTD) category, which represented more than a third of entries, was won by the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3. While in the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) category, the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 headed an Oreca top three finish, and the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 VK took a commanding inaugural Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class victory.
This weekend, in recognition of the bright future of endurance racing, Pierre Fillon, President of the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO), gave the starters orders. Reflecting on the role of Grand Marshal, as well as the convergence of the ACO and the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) a year after their landmark announcement, Fillon said: “It is a great honour and pleasure for me. My presence here as Grand Marshal of this prestigious race sends out a strong message to the entire endurance world: Le Mans and Daytona, the ACO and IMSA, are working hand-in-hand and shall continue to do so. Our discipline has a bright future thanks to this collaboration. Competing in the WeatherTech Championship and in the FIA WEC with the same car was a dream for many manufacturers. It is soon a dream come true.” Rolex’s involvement in endurance racing also encompasses the 24 Hours of Le Mans and the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC), supporting motor sport’s desire to continuously push the boundaries of technology and innovation.