The 2016 24 Hours of Daytona (formally the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona) was an International Motor Sports Association (IMSA)-sanctioned 24-hour automobile endurance race for Prototype and Grand Touring sports cars held at the Daytona International Speedway combined road course in Daytona Beach, Florida, on January 30-31, 2016, before approximately 35,000 people. It was the first of twelve 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship races, the 54th 24 Hours of Daytona, and the first of the four-round North American Endurance Cup.
SMP Racing began from pole position after Mikhail Aleshin set the fastest lap in the Prototype class. The lead was exchanged several times between the DeltaWing, ESM, Michael Shank Racing, Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR), Mazda Motorsport and Action Express Racing teams during the race. Ed Brown, Derani, Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek recovered from a late race speeding penalty to achieve ESM's first win at Daytona and the lead of both the Prototype Drivers' and Teams' Championships. WTR's Max Angelelli, Rubens Barrichello, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor finished 26 seconds later in second, and Ryan Dalziel, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay of VisitFlorida Racing recovered from a late race change of car component to finish third.
The Prototype Challenge (PC) category was won by JDC-Miller MotorSports' Oreca FLM09 car of Kenton Koch--Chris Miller, Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson--after the team recovered from a significant crash damaging their car in the 15th hour. Robert Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith, Jose Gutiérrez and Nicholas Boulle finished five laps down in second, while BAR1 Motorsports' Tomy Drissi, Marc Drumwright, Brendan Gaughan, Johnny Mowlem and Ricardo Vera was third. Corvette Racing won the Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) class with a Chevrolet Corvette C7.R shared by Oliver Gavin. Tommy Milner and Marcel Fässler beating their teammates Antonio García, Jan Magnussen and Mike Rockenfeller by the race's closest finishing margin of 0.034 seconds. Porsche took third with Earl Bamber, Michael Christensen and Frédéric Makowiecki sharing a 911 RSR. Konrad Motorsport led the final nine minutes in Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) until its lead Lamborghini Huracán made a pit stop for fuel handing the victory to Magnus Racing's Andy Lally, John Potter, René Rast and Marco Seefried. Black Swan Racing were second in class with Nicky Catsburg, Patrick Long, Tim Pappas and Andy Pilgrim, and Damien Faulkner, Eric Foss, Ben Keating, Jeff Mosing and Gar Robinson took third for Riley Motorsports.
NASCAR founder Bill France Sr., who built the Daytona International Speedway in 1959, conceived the 24 Hours of Daytona as a race to attract European sports car endurance racing to the United States and provide international exposure to Daytona. It is informally considered part of the "Triple Crown of Endurance Racing" with the 12 Hours of Sebring and the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) president Scott Atherton confirmed the race was part of the schedule for the 2016 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship in August 2015. It was the third consecutive year it was part of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the 54th 24 Hours of Daytona. The 24 Hours of Daytona was the first of twelve scheduled automobile endurance races of 2016 by IMSA, and the first in the four round North American Endurance Cup. It occurred at the 12-turn 3.56 mi (5.73 km) Daytona International Speedway combined road course in Daytona Beach, Florida, on January 30-31.
A total of 54 cars were officially entered for the race with most of the entries in the Prototype and Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) categories. The 2015 race winners, Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR), returned to defend their title. Action Express Racing (AER) and VisitFlorida Racing (VFR) fielded two Chevrolet Corvette DP cars and Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) one. CGR fielded two Riley MkXXVI cars with one from Highway to Help. Mazda Motorsports had two Lola B08/80 cars and both the Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM) and Michael Shank Racing (MSR) teams entered one Ligier JS P2 each. SMP Racing made its North American endurance debut at Daytona with a BR Engineering BR01. Panoz brought the DeltaWing car to Daytona for the fifth successive year. The Prototype Challenge (PC) class was composed of eight Oreca FLM09 cars: two from Starworks Motorsports and BAR1 Motorsports. CORE Autosport, JDC-Miller MotorSports, Performance Tech and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entered one car each.
Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) consisted of 11 cars from 5 different brands. Team RLL debuted the BMW M6 GTLM at Daytona. CGR with Felix Sabates partnered with Ford for two Ford GTs that debuted at Daytona. Porsche fielded two 911 RSRs, three 488 GTEs represented Ferrari with one each from Risi Competizione, Scuderia Corsa and SMP Racing, and Corvette Racing entered two C7.Rs. GTD featured 22 cars among seven different GT3 manufacturers. Lamborghini was represented by five Huracáns in its North American endurance debut: two by Konrad Motorsports and one each from Change Racing, O'Gara Motorsport and Paul Miller Racing (PMR). Porsche had five 911 Rs: two for Alex Job Racing (AJR) and one each for Black Swan Racing, Frikadelli Racing and Park Place Motorsports (PPM). A mix of teams and automotive brands made up the rest of the GTD field. These included two Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS cars: one each from Magnus Racing and Flying Lizard Motorsports (FLM) with Krohn Racing for the revised car's race debut. Turner Motorsport fielded two BMW M6s, Scuderia Corsa and Spirit of Race entered two 458 Italias. There were two Aston Martin V12 Vantages from Aston Martin Racing and TRG-AMR and two Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper Rs.
Two full-time WeatherTech SportsCar Championship drivers drove a car, joined by one North American Endurance Cup racer and one or two extra drivers. These additional participants were recruited from a variety of racing categories, including the FIA World Endurance Championship (such as Marcel Fässler for Corvette and Richie Stanaway for Aston Martin), the IndyCar Series (such as Ryan Hunter-Reay for VFR and Scott Dixon for CGR), and the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (such as Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler for Team RLL) among others. Some drivers competed at Daytona on a one-off basis in 2016 such as: European Formula Three Championship racers Lance Stroll and Felix Rosenqvist, V8 Supercars driver Shane van Gisbergen, and A. J. Allmendinger, Brendan Gaughan, Jamie McMurray, Justin Marks, and Kyle Larson from NASCAR. Jonathan Adam won the 2016 Sunoco Whelen Challenge with the 2015 British GT3 title, earning him a seat with AER. Four women entered the race: Ashley Freiberg, Katherine Legge, Christina Nielsen, and Sabine Schmitz.
Fifty-four entries were involved in three days of testing divided into seven sessions held at the circuit from January 8-10. Risi missed the test session because it was constructing its 488 in Italy. Oswaldo Negri Jr. set the fastest time early on the first day with a 1 minute, 39.655 seconds lap in the No. 60 MSR Ligier. His co-driver Olivier Pla improved to a 1-minute, 39.445-second lap in the second session. Pipo Derani lapped second-fastest in ESM's No. 2 Ligier and Sean Rayhall put the DeltaWing third. The fastest Daytona Prototype was Jordan Taylor's No. 10 WTR Corvette in fourth. Separate crashes by Stroll at turn five soon after he left the pit lane, and João Barbosa of AER at the Bus Stop chicane due to a possible broken rear suspension, led to stoppages on the first day. Colin Braun's No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca led in PC with a 1 minute, 42.423 seconds lap. BMWs took the first two positions in GTLM with Lucas Luhr's No. 100 car setting a 1-minute, 45.088 seconds lap with Farfus' No. 25 entry second. Antonio García's No. 3 Corvette and Richard Westbrook's No. 66 Ford were third and fourth in class. A leak in an FIA-mandated fuel vent on Tommy Milner's No. 4 Corvette overheated when fuel hit it and caused the car's right-rear corner to catch fire. Raffaele Giammaria's No. 51 Spirit Ferrari led GTD from Jeroen Bleekemolen's No. 23 Riley Viper.
Heavy morning fog prompted IMSA to revised the second day's schedule. Pla set the day's fastest time, a 1 minute, 39.445 seconds, ahead of Legge's DeltaWing in second. Ricky Taylor improved the WTR Corvette to third. Spencer Pigot was fourth in Mazda's No. 55 Lola, with Scott Sharp's ESM Ligier fifth. Maro Engel's No. 88 Starworks Motorsport Oreca led the PC category with a 1 minute, 43.175 seconds time from Tom Kimber-Smith's No. 52 PR1 entry. Two crashes by Alex Popow and his teammate Renger van der Zande caused further stoppages to testing. Mike Rockenfeller's No. 3 Corvette led GTLM with a 1-minute, 45.256 seconds lap, ahead of Alessandro Pier Guidi's No. 68 Scuderia car, Westbrook's No. 67 Ford and Jan Magnussen's No. 4 Corvette. Mirko Bortolotti's No. 48 PMR Lamborghini led in GTD with Fabio Babini's No. 28 Konrad car second. An accident with the Konrad Lamborghini and Dion von Moltke caused further disruption to testing.
The third and final day of testing held in cloudy and clear weather saw Daytona debutant Derani's ESM Ligier go fastest with a 1-minute, 39.438 seconds time with 15 minutes left. Derani demoted Negri's MSR Ligier, which was two-tenths of a second slower in second, and Tom Long put the No. 55 Mazda Lola third. Kirill Ladygin set the fourth-fastest lap in SMP Racing's No. 37 BR01, and Jonathan Bomarito's No. 55 Mazda was fifth. Jack Hawksworth set the PC category's fastest lap for Starworks Motorsport's No. 8 team at 1 minute, 42.118 seconds, 0.340 seconds faster than his teammate Rosenqvist in second. Oliver Gavin's No. 4 Corvette recorded the day's quickest GTLM lap of 1 minute, 45.106 seconds. Dirk Müller caused damage to the front of the No. 66 Ford at turn five to stop testing again. The fastest GTD laps were set in the morning session by Leh Keen's No. 22 AJR Porsche and Damien Faulkner's No. 93 Riley Dodge.
After testing, IMSA altered the balance of performance in all four categories in an attempt to achieve parity within them. The BR01, DeltaWing and Ligiers received ballast increases to affect their handling. The Rileys, Ligiers and Lolas had their turbocharger boost pressures lowered to reduce performances. The Corvette Daytona Prototypes had performance changes. The eight PC vehicles had the position of their rear wings adjusted to affect its aerodynamic efficiency. BMW. Ferrari, and Ford had their turbocharger boost pressures cut to lower top speeds. Porsche's and Corvette had fuel tank size increases of 6 l (1.3 imp gal; 1.6 US gal). The GTD, Aston Martin, Audi, Dodge and Ferrari all had 20 kg (44 lb) of weight deducted, as Lamborghini and BMW received ballast increases of the same amount. Porsche received a fuel capacity increase of 1 l (0.22 imp gal; 0.26 US gal).
Four practice sessions were held before the start of the race on Saturday, three on Thursday and one on Friday. The first one-hour session on Thursday morning was followed by a half-hour session later that afternoon. The third held that evening ran for 90 minutes; the fourth on Friday morning lasted an hour.
The track was wet and the sky overcast for the first practice session. The conditions lowered lap times for the GT cars by around 10 to 15 seconds and 15 to 18 seconds for Prototype vehicles. Negri led for MSR with a lap of 1 minute, 54.807 seconds. The fastest GTLM car was Toni Vilander's No. 62 Risi Ferrari in second overall and Frédéric Makowiecki's No. 912 Porsche third. Fourth was James Calado's No. 72 SMP Ferrari and Dirk Werner's No. 25 BMW came fifth. The fastest PC class car was Ryan Lewis' BAR1 No. 26 car with a 2 minutes, 0.221 seconds lap, followed by his teammate Johnny Mowlem's sister No. 20 entry. Matt McMurry's No. 73 PPM Porsche led GTD from Bleekemolen's No. 33 Riley Viper and Gianmaria's No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari. Spencer Pumpelly damaged the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini in an accident against the inside wall leaving NASCAR turn four and stopping the session five minutes early. He was checked and released from the infield care center.
Due to a cold air temperature preventing the track from drying and a forecast for more rain, cars used wet-weather tires for the second practice session. Sébastien Bourdais in the No. 66 GTLM Ford led outright with a 1 minute, 56.024 seconds lap. Giancarlo Fisichella's No. 62 Risi Ferrari was second; third was Calado's No. 72 SMP Ferrari. The two Corvette cars were fourth and fifth. The fastest Prototype car was Mikhail Aleshin's No. 37 SMP BR01 in sixth overall. Mowlem's No. 20 BAR1 Oreca led the PC class, and Maxime Martin's No. 72 Turner BMW topped GTD. The session was first halted ten minutes in when Van Der Zande's No. 8 Starworks Oreca and the No. 50 Highway Riley stopped at the Bus Stop chicane. Both cars returned to the pit lane without external assistance. A second stoppage came soon after for track clearing due to right-rear tire tread coming off the wheel on Lars Viljoen's No. 007 Aston Martin on the front stretch. During the stoppage, the No. 97 Turner BMW's right-rear tire was found to be down. The debris damaged the FLM No. 45 Audi's right-front radiator grille.
Thursday afternoon's 90-minute qualifying session was divided into four groups. All categories had separate 15-minute sessions, and regulations stipulated teams to nominate one qualifying driver, with the fastest lap times determining the starting order of each class. IMSA arranged the grid to put Prototypes ahead of all PC, GTLM and GTD cars. Rain fell and increased in intensity as cars lifted spray from the tarmac surface. Nick Tandy's No. 911 Porsche GTLM was fastest overall, setting a lap of 2 minutes, 1.408 seconds. His teammate Makowiecki qualified the No. 912 Porsche on the GTLM grid's front row. John Edwards qualified the No. 100 BMW third due to an error at turn six, as Pier Guidi's Scuderia Corsa and Vilander's Risi Ferrari 488 cars took fourth and fifth. Gianmaria Bruni's No. 72 SMP car hydroplaned entering turn one and struck a tire barrier, damaging the vehicle's left-rear corner and removing the rear wing. The GTLM qualifying was lengthened to allow drivers to have a minimum of ten minutes of green flag driving time.
Mowlem's No. 20 BAR1 Oreca was eighth overall and the fastest PC class car with a 2 minutes, 5.708 seconds lap. Stephen Simpson's No. 85 JDC/Miller car was second and Ryan Eversley's sister BAR1 car took third. SMP were ninth overall and began from pole position with Aleshin's 2 minutes, 5.793 seconds lap in the BR01 car's first endurance pole position after avoiding the wall on his fastest lap. He was half a second faster than Derani's ESM Ligier in second. Negri took third for MSR, and Ricky Taylor in fourth was the fastest Daytona Prototype driver after failing to control the car on the sodden circuit; WTR did not drive the final 31⁄2 minutes. Daytona debutant Alexander Wurz was fifth in CGR's No. 1 Riley. In GTD, Norbert Siedler took the class pole position in PPM's Porsche with a 2 minutes, 878 seconds time. Marc Basseng put the No. 28 Konrad Lamborghini second, Keen for AJR was third and Falkuner's No. 93 Riley Viper took fourth.
In the third practice session, rain continued to fall; some teams elected not to participate as 34 cars were checked as preparation for the race. Magnussen's No. 4 Corvette set the fastest overall lap of 2 minutes, 5.881 seconds, with Farfus' No. 25 BMW second and Gavin's second Corvette third. Fourth overall was René Rast's GTD-category No. 44 Magnus Audi and Van Gisbergen's AJR Porsche was fifth. The highest-placed Prototype was Dorsey Schroeder's No. 50 Highway to Help Riley in sixth overall with a lap of 2 minutes, 14.193 seconds. Simpson led the PC class with a 2 minutes, 19.275 seconds lap in JDC/Miller's Oreca, ahead of John Falb's No. 26 BAR1 car.
The fourth and final practice session was the first time over the weekend drivers were able to drive on a dry track. Legge in the DeltaWing led by 1 minute, 38.590 seconds, followed by the Ligier cars of Olivier Pla of MSR and ESM's Johannes van Overbeek in second and third. Mazda were fourth after a lap from Bomarito in its No. 55 Lola. The WTR Corvette of Max Angelelli was the fastest Daytona Prototype in fifth. Ladygin's No SMP BR01 engine failed after exiting the West Horseshoe and the session was stopped briefly to allow for its recovery to the pit lane. Kimber-Smith led in PC for PR1 with a 1-minute, 43.283 seconds lap, ahead of Kenton Koch of JDC/Miller and CORE Autosport's Martin Plowman. Bill Auberlen and Luhr had the first two places in GTLM for Team RLL. Pier Guidi of Scuderia Corsa and Earl Bamber's No. 912 Porsche were third and fourth in class. PPM'sJörg Bergmeister led in GTD from the Lamborghinis of PMR's Mirko Bortolotti and O'Gara's Townsend Bell. A second stoppage was necessitated when the No. 60 Turner BMW stopped on the inside before the Bus Stop chicane.
Due to the No. 72 SMP Ferrari causing a stoppage to qualifying, the car was sent to the back of the GTLM field. Both the No. 96 and 97 Turner BMW cars had their qualifying lap times deleted due to turbocharger boost control problems; the No. 96 was demoted to the rear of the GTD grid and the No. 97 had a one-lap penalty imposed on it.
The No. 37 SMP BR01's engine was changed and was allowed to start from overall pole position because the team did so after qualifying for an endurance race. Riley Motorsport's No. 33 Viper had its clutch replaced after the team sidelined it from the final practice session.
|1||GTLM||911||Porsche North America||Nick Tandy||2:01.408||--||22|
|2||GTLM||912||Porsche North America||Frédéric Makowiecki||2:02.364||+0.956||23|
|3||GTLM||100||BMW Team RLL||John Edwards||2:02.497||+1.089||24|
|4||GTLM||68||Scuderia Corsa||Alessandro Pier Guidi||2:03.309||+1.901||25|
|5||GTLM||62||Risi Competizione||Toni Vilander||2:03.386||+1.978||26|
|6||GTLM||4||Corvette Racing||Oliver Gavin||2:03.974||+2.566||27|
|7||GTLM||25||BMW Team RLL||Dirk Werner||2:03.974||+2.566||28|
|8||PC||20||BAR1 Motorsports||Johnny Mowlem||2:05.708||+4.300||14|
|9||P||37||SMP Racing||Mikhail Aleshin||2:05.793||+4.385||1|
|10||GTD||73||Park Place Motorsports||Norbert Siedler||2:05.798||+4.390||33|
|11||GTLM||3||Corvette Racing||Jan Magnussen||2:05.979||+4.571||29|
|12||P||2||Extreme Speed Motorsports||Pipo Derani||2:06.304||+4.896||2|
|13||GTD||28||Konrad Motorsport||Marc Basseng||2:06.357||+4.949||34|
|14||GTD||22||Alex Job Racing||Leh Keen||2:06.556||+5.148||35|
|15||GTLM||66||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Joey Hand||2:06.758||+5.350||30|
|16||GTD||93||Riley Motorsports||Damien Faulkner||2:07.392||+5.984||36|
|17||PC||85||JDC-Miller MotorSports||Stephen Simpson||2:07.413||+6.005||15|
|18||P||60||Michael Shank Racing||Oswaldo Negri Jr.||2:07.432||+6.024||3|
|19||PC||26||BAR1 Motorsports||Ryan Eversley||2:07.485||+6.077||16|
|20||GTD||30||Frikadelli Racing||Sven Müller||2:07.751||+6.343||37|
|21||GTD||33||Riley Motorsports||Jeroen Bleekemolen||2:07.759||+6.351||38|
|22||P||10||Wayne Taylor Racing||Ricky Taylor||2:07.966||+6.558||4|
|23||GTD||98||Aston Martin Racing||Richie Stanaway||2:07.982||+6.574||39|
|24||GTD||23||Team Seattle / Alex Job Racing||Mario Farnbacher||2:07.985||+6.577||40|
|25||GTLM||67||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ryan Briscoe||2:08.440||+7.032||31|
|26||P||01||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Alexander Wurz||2:08.639||+7.231||5|
|27||GTD||11||O'Gara Motorsport||Townsend Bell||2:08.906||+7.498||41|
|28||GTD||44||Magnus Racing||Andy Lally||2:09.117||+7.709||42|
|29||GTD||63||Scuderia Corsa||Jeff Segal||2:09.398||+7.990||43|
|31||P||31||Action Express Racing||Dane Cameron||2:10.016||+8.608||6|
|32||P||02||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Scott Dixon||2:10.094||+8.686||7|
|33||GTD||97||Turner Motorsport||Markus Palttala||2:10.307||+8.899||451|
|34||P||90||VisitFlorida Racing||Ryan Dalziel||2:10.610||+9.202||8|
|35||PC||38||Performance Tech||James French||2:11.110||+9.702||17|
|36||GTD||51||Spirit of Race||Raffaele Giammaria||2:11.298||+9.890||46|
|37||GTD||6||Stevenson Motorsports||Andrew Davis||2:11.245||+10.037||47|
|38||P||90||Highway to Help||Byron DeFoor||2:13.116||+11.708||9|
|39||GTD||96||Turner Motorsport||Jens Klingmann||--||--||542|
|40||P||70||Mazda Motorsports||Tom Long||2:13.380||+11.972||10|
|41||GTD||48||Paul Miller Racing||Bryce Miller||2:13.398||+11.990||48|
|42||P||5||Action Express Racing||João Barbosa||2:15.707||+14.299||11|
|43||GTD||45||Flying Lizard Motorsports||Tracy Krohn||2:16.384||+14.976||49|
|44||P||55||Mazda Motorsports||Tristan Nunez||2:16.429||+15.021||12|
|45||GTD||21||Konrad Motorsport||Emanuele Busnelli||2:18.716||+17.308||50|
|46||PC||8||Starworks Motorsport||Alex Popow||2:19.760||+18.352||18|
|47||GTD||540||Black Swan Racing||Tim Pappas||2:20.513||+19.105||51|
|48||PC||88||Starworks Motorsport||Sean Johnston||2:28.250||+26.842||19|
|49||GTD||9||Stevenson Motorsports||Did not participate||52|
|50||P||0||Panoz DeltaWing Racing||Did not participate||13|
|51||GTD||16||Change Racing||Did not participate||53|
|52||PC||52||PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports||Did not participate||20|
|53||PC||54||CORE Autosport||Did not participate||21|
|54||GTLM||72||SMP Racing||Gianmaria Bruni||No Lap Time Set||323|
The starting order was arranged so that Prototype cars began ahead of all PC, GTLM and GTD entries.
The eeather at the start were clear and cool with a slight breeze; forecasts four days before the event indicated it would be partially cloudy with a maximum air temperature of 67 °F (19 °C). Approximately 35,000 people attended the event. Two-time 24 Hours of Daytona overall winner A. J. Foyt waved the green flag at 14:40 Eastern Standard Time (UTC-05:00) to begin proceedings. 54 cars were due to take the start, but the No. 9 Stevenson Audi was in the garage for three laps with a battery problem. Derani and Negri overtook Aleshin on lap one for first and second. Simpson moved the JDC/Miller Oreca and Bryce Miller in the PMR Lamborghini to the front of the PC and GTD categories, respectively, as Bell's O'Gara car progressed to second in GTD. Derani and Negri pulled away from the third-placed DeltaWing of Legge by 20 seconds before the first full course caution came out and the pace car appeared. Long stopped the No. 70 Mazda Lola at turn four with a loss of oil pressure resulting from a broken flywheel and the car was retired.
Some cars made early pit stops during the caution. Corvette Racing adjusted the angle of the No. 3 C7.R's rear wing to raise its top speed. Several GTD-class vehicles including the category pole sitter Norbert Siedler's No. 73 PPM Porsche incurred stop-and-hold penalties to be taken in the pit lane. Derani maintained the lead from Negri and Legge at the rolling restart on lap 16, moving clear from the rest of the field with slower GT traffic behind his car. The lead of GTLM became a multi-manufacturer battle between Tandy's Porsche, Joey Hand of Ford, the SMP Ferrari of Bruni and Corvette Racing, which saw Tandy emerge in front. Legge overtook Negri for second overall and then the outright lead for DeltaWing before the first hour ended when Derani made a pit stop. She relinquished the lead back to Derani following a pit stop that dropped her to second.
Hand's No. 66 Ford stopped on the apron between NASCAR turns two and three with a dislodged brake line, a faulty gearbox and an intermittent kill switch issue. A caution was required to slow the race for a second time, just as Hand restarted the car and returned to the pit lane. The leaders of the Prototype and GTLM categories made pit stops under caution. Legge stalled as she exited her pit box, and ESM lost time because Van Overbeek took over from Derani. Dixon's CGR Riley elected not to make a pit stop, and led at the lap 56 restart. As Barbosa was lapping slower GTLM traffic on the outside at the International Horseshoe corner, he ran deep onto sodden grass and hit the tire wall with the right front corner of his car. He continued in the No. 5 AER Corvette DP with no major problems. John Pew's MSR Ligier appeared to miss the braking point and struck the rear of Van Overbeek's car at the Bus Stop chicane. Both cars sustained bodywork damage, and Van Overbeek was sent into a spin.
Legge used the DeltaWing's superior aerodynamic performance to retake the lead, making her the first woman to lead a lap of the race outright. She opened up a two-second lead just as the Prototype entries made another sequence of pit stops. The ESM car had its rear wing repaired and diffuser altered, as Andy Meyrick took over from Legge in the DeltaWing. This returned McMurray's No. 2 CGR Riley to first position. Bell's No. 11 O'Gara Lamborghini was forced to enter the garage with a series of electrical problems that dropped the car down the GTD order. Dane Cameron's No. 5 AER car and WTR driver Angelelli dueled for the lead and allowed the No. 55 Mazda and Meyrick to close up to the pair.
As night fell, Sean Johnston's No. 88 Starworks Oreca spun at the exit to the pit lane. He made contact with the wall and destroyed the car's front left corner. That wheel locked up and forced Johnston to return to the pit lane at a slow pace. Meyrick was later issued a stop-and-go penalty because he spun the DeltaWing's rear tires while it was suspended in the air on its jack for a tire change. Chris Cumming stalled the No. 8 Starworks vehicle on the racing line in the center before the first turn afterward. He attempted to restart the car, and IMSA did not immediately activate the caution procedure. Almost 11⁄2 minutes later, Meyrick could not react in time, braked 150 feet (46 m) after not noticing yellow flags, and the DeltaWing front struck Cumming's car with enough force to lift it from the ground. Meyrick and Cumming were evaluated at the infield care center, and Cumming was not cleared to compete. The full course caution was activated for the third time to recover the stricken cars. In the meantime, Angelelli's WTR Corvette DP overtook Cameron's No. 31 AER car for the outright lead as they negotiated past the No. 8 Starworks Oreca. IMSA officials deemed the pass to have occurred under exceptional circumstances and changed the positions.
When racing resumed, Bomarito's No. 55 Mazda led overall with the Corvette cars of Milner and García first and second in GTLM. McMurray's No. 2 CGR Riley took the lead from Bomarito on the inside line before he experienced understeer and Milner made light contact with him. McMurray stalled the Riley just after the racing line at the International Horseshoe turn; no driver hit his car. Angelelli's WTR Corvette DP incurred a penalty for overtaking under yellow flag conditions, giving Bomarito's No. 55 Mazda with a large lead. Konrad's GTD-leading No. 28 Lamborghini earned a penalty for failing to comply with the wave-around procedure during the caution, falling one lap behind Bryan Sellers' PMR car. Pla returned MSR to the lead shortly after. Before the fourth hour was over, a fourth full course yellow was needed to clear the track: Brandon Gdovic locked the wheels on the No. 38 Performance Tech car into the Bus Stop chicane and spun under braking.
As the safety car was recalled, the PC-class leading No. 54 CORE Oreca was brought into the garage by driver Mark Wilkins to be retired after he reported that a vibration jolted the car on NASCAR turn four due to an engine failure causing oil to leak from the engine bay. The car's retirement elevated the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen car of José Gutiérrez to the lead of PC by two laps over the class field. A fifth caution came out shortly after when Don Yount spun and stalled the No. 26 BAR1 Oreca following a collision with Tandy's GTLM-class leading No. 911 Porsche. During the caution, the second-placed No. 55 Mazda of Bomarito and later Pigot had its steering wheel changed in a failed attempt to repair its lighting system. Mazda changed the car's electronic control unit, and it rejoined the race two laps down in ninth. A sixth caution was necessitated for 13 minutes when Mark Kvamme crashed the No. 88 Starworks car at the Bus Stop Chicane. Two further cautions came out within 30 minutes when Ben Keating spun and damaged the No. 93 Riley Viper at the Western Horseshoe turn and the No. 21 Konrad Lamborghini required recovery shortly after.
The cautions brought the first eight cars in GTLM onto the same lap with Bamber's No. 912 Porsche leading Magnussen's No. 3 Corvette and Calado's No. 72 SMP Ferrari. The No. 1 CGR car of Tony Kanaan was required to enter the garage to replace brakes that had lost pressure when applied into the first corner. Repairs took 15 minutes to complete, and the car rejoined the race with Larson driving it 10 laps behind the race leader. A further two cautions came when Koch stopped against a wall leaving the Bus Stop chicane, and Eversley spun and stalled the No. 26 BAR1 Oreca in the infield grass at the Western Horseshoe corner. Nine and a half hours into the race, the race-leading No. 60 MSR Ligier developed engine problems that caused it to leak oil on the track as Negri stopped on the run-off area at the Western Horseshoe turn. An 11th caution was necessitated for officials to dry the oil laid on the track, and to move Negri's car to the garage to be retired. Its retirement promoted Sharp's ESM Ligier to the outright lead before he took a stop-and-hold penalty for passing a red light at the exit of the pit lane and handing the position to Scott Pruett's No. 5 AER car.
The PMR and Change Lamborghini cars of Miller and Justin Marks, who had been dueling for the lead of GTD, collided on the entry to turn one. Both cars spun and the PMR car sustained heavy rear suspension and left-front toe link damage by striking the end of the pit lane barrier. The collision promoted Van Gisbergen's AJR Porsche to the class lead with Alex Riberas' car second. It prompted a 27-minute 12th caution. When racing resumed, Tandy returned the No. 911 Porsche to the top of GTLM and Pruett and Angelelli battled for the outright lead. Sven Müller moved the Frikadelli Porsche to the lead of GTD before the No. 55 Mazda's retirement from a rear value train problem with Tristan Nunez caused the 13th caution. Following 19 minutes of green flag racing, the No. 50 Highway car of Thomas Gruber stopped with suspected electrical issues requiring a 14th caution to allow the car to be extricated to the pit lane. Scuderia Corsa's Pier Guidi used the caution to take the GTLM class lead, and Derani overtook Pruett's No. 5 AER car to return ESM to first position before the 12-hour mark.
A suspected brake disc failure sent Luhr's No. 100 BMW into the outside barrier at turn one and caused heavy damage to the car and debris littered the area. He was sent across an access road and stopped at turn six. Luhr was uninjured, but the damage sustained to the BMW necessitated its retirement. A 13-minute 15th caution was deployed to clear the debris. After the resumption of racing, Simon Pagenaud's No. 31 AER Corvette DP took the lead from Ed Brown's ESM Ligier. The lead of GTLM changed from Scuderia Corsa to Porsche returning to first and second with Kévin Estre's No. 911 car ahead of Bamber's No. 912 entry. The fourth-placed car in GTLM of García was hit by Olivier Beretta's No. 62 Risi Ferrari. García continued without major damage to the No. 3 car. Pier Guidi separated the two Porsche cars by using a 16th caution for the SMP BR01 stopping on the circuit to take second in class. The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Oreca was forced to enter the garage for repairs to a malfunctioning fuel pump relay, losing the team 20 laps to the PC class-leading No. 85 JDC/Miller entry.
The close of the 14th hour saw the 17th caution: the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin of Antonio Pérez and Emanuele Busnell's No. 21 Konrad Lamborghini made contact causing the Aston Martin to spin and rest against a tire barrier on the outside of the Bus Stop chicane. Both cars were retired from the event. The two GTLM class-leading Porsche cars had their brake discs changed and promoted Bill Auberlen's No. 25 BMW to the category lead. Marc Goossens led at the restart in the No. 90 VFR Corvette DP before Cameron of AER overtook him leaving the International Horseshoe corner. Five Prototype cars were within one second of each other as Goossens retook the lead from Cameron not long after. Before the 15th hour ended, the No. 31 AER Corvette DP had a flash fire when fuel hit the car's cockpit and bodywork. JDC/Miller had an anxious moment when Koch damaged the No. 85 Oreca's front bodywork and suspension against a tire barrier. Koch returned to the pit lane and repairs were fast enough for his team not to relinquish the PC class lead to Yount's No. 26 BAR1 car.
The No. 67 Ford of Stefan Mücke stalled off the circuit in the center of the Bus Stop chicane in the early morning necessitating the 18th caution. Around this time, teams began to decide who would run the rest of the event. Sharp got ESM back onto the same lap as the top five and into second overall. Tracy Krohn's stall prompted the 19th caution since his Audi required recovery to the pit lane. A sequence of pit stops promoted AER' Christian Fittipaldi to the lead, which he maintained when racing resumed. One lap later, Derani overtook Jordan Taylor for second, as García ceded the No. 3 Corvette's hold on second in GTLM by taking a drive-through penalty for pit lane speeding. Derani overtook Fittipaldi of AER for the lead at the start of the 19th hour. Corvette Racing returned to first and second in GTLM with Milner and the recovering García bump drafting each other to pass Makowiecki's No. 912 Porsche. The third-placed GTLM No. 911 Porsche entered the garage with a faulty left-rear driveshaft, as the No. 85 JDC/Miller car had a change of front toe link at a pit stop.
Patrick Lindsey's No. 73 PPM car had a front axle failure exiting the fifth corner and slowed en route to the pit lane. He asked a guard to open a gate for access to the infield via an exit road on the circuit to avoid a caution. Lindsey negotiated his way past stationary vehicles, temporary structures and spectators to his garage. Van Gisbergen was faster than Marco Seefried's No. 44 Magnus Audi and used a better corner exit to pass him for the GTD lead. At the front, Derani was relieved by Van Overbeek in the ESM Ligier. Angelelli for WTR caught and passed Van Overbeek in slower traffic to reclaim first position in the 20th hour. Van Overbeek was able to maintain the pace of Angelelli and prevented the latter from pulling away.
The 20th caution came out when the No. 67 Ford stopped between NASCAR turns one and two with a low voltage. Bodywork from the right rear of the No. 28 Konrad Lamborghini also needed clearing. Several drivers made pit stops during the caution. Fässler in the GTLM class leading No. 4 Corvette ignored a red light at the exit of the pit lane, earning him a one-minute stop-and-hold penalty, and lost the category lead to his teammate Rockenfeller. AJR's GTD-leading No. 23 Porsche was assessed a three-minute stop-and-hold penalty for non-compliance of the wave-by procedure. Filipe Albuquerque retook the lead for AER and maintained it until he entered the garage to repair a broken left-rear driveshaft. Repairs took ten minutes to complete, and the team lost the lead to Angelelli. A drive-through penalty imposed on Van Overbeek's ESM Ligier for speeding in the pit lane allowed Angelelli to draw further away. That was nullified when braking issues sent Larson's No. 1 CGR Riley into the tire barrier at the West Horseshoe corner, triggering the 21st and final caution.
Derani relieved Van Overbeek in the ESM Ligier and closed up to the race-leading unwell WTR driver Jordan Taylor. He overtook Taylor on the outside, leaving NASCAR turn four to reclaim the lead. The Alex Job Porsche of Shane Van Gisbergen was within a second of Rast in the No. 44 Magnus Audi at the front of GTD when the car's rear wing collapsed with 50 minutes left due to a negative camber setting creating stress. He consequently spun into the infield and lost six seconds to Rast. Van Gisbergen made a pit stop for repairs to the rear wing and AJR dropped out of contention for a GTD class podium. Bamber's No. 912 Porsche had moved to the front of GTLM. He maintained the position until Gavin aboard the No. 4 Corvette employed a bump and run passing technique for first in class. IMSA race control took no action over the contact between Gavin and Bamber after deeming it acceptable. Gavin's teammate García overtook Bamber for second in GTLM.
Unchallenged in the final hour of the race after a power steering failure and rising transmission temperatures, Derani achieved victory for the ESM team, who completed 736 laps and finished 26.166 seconds ahead of the WTR Corvette DP of Angelelli in second. VFR followed 1 minute and 27 seconds later with the No. 90 Corvette DP to complete the overall podium in third after recovering from a lap down due to a switch of electronic control unit at a pit stop late on. It was Honda, Ligier and ESM's first Daytona win. The Ligier JS P2 became the first Le Mans Prototype 2 car to win outright at Daytona for its first major endurance victory.
Once García had moved into second place in GTLM, Corvette Racing team manager Doug Fehan assured him there would be no team orders. Fehan wanted to let both cars race for the win, and spoke to Chevrolet United States vice president Jim Campbell, General Motors director of racing Mark Kent, and president of General Motors North America Mark Reuss, who all concurred with Fehan. Gavin his race engineer told him he and García could duel each other with no contact. García battled Gavin for the win in the final 20 minutes, losing to the No. 4 team by 0.034 seconds in the closest class finish in race history. Porsche completed the GTLM podium in third place with the No. 912 car. It was Gavin and Milner's first American endurance win since the 2013 12 Hours of Sebring.
Rast's No. 44 Magnus Audi continued to lead in GTD by half a minute until Babini in the No. 28 Konrad Lamborghini overtook him into turn one with nine minutes to go. Babini then slowed on the back straight with a lack of fuel and gave the lead back to Rast. He conserved enough fuel over the final three minutes to win for Magnus Racing by 3.048 seconds over Nicky Catsburg's No. 540 Black Sway Porsche in second. The No. 93 Riley Viper completed the GTD podium in third position. It was the Audi R8 LMS' fourth major endurance victory in five starts over the past year and its first American win. JDC/Miller won in PC with Koch ahead of Kimber-Smith's No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen team by four laps in second. BAR1 took the final PC podium position in third. There were 56 overall lead changes; ten cars reached the front of the field. The ESM Ligier led 16 times for a race-high 179 laps.
The ESM team appeared in Victory Lane to celebrate their victory in front of the crowd. Derani commented on the final 21⁄2 hours, "I was trying to not make any mistakes and keep the gap. To increase the gap up to the end was amazing. I need to thank my team for the amazing car they gave me." Sharp said the win made up for a poor 2015 season, "It is so good to see this come together so well with our merged team with Onroak." Van Overbeek said of ESM's success, "I was reflecting on this win here. Ed and I were responsible for two of the three P2 wins and it makes me happy. Running the P2 made me feel a bit like a red-haired step child, so to win here with a P2 makes me feel quite proud of all of our efforts." Jordan Taylor believed his team were satisfied to finish second and his brother Ricky Taylor felt the race was an example of "one of the more treacherous 24-hour races in the night" due to slower PC class cars impeding him.
Doug Fehan said the battle of the two Corvette cars for the win in GTLM in the final hour was "one of those moments in my own personal career that will always stand out as being really what this sport embodies and what Corvette Racing embodies. It was a wonderful moment in time." Gavin recalled before the 2017 race he had celebrated shortly after achieving victory for the team and praised his teammate García's sportsmanship, "All I could think about was my boss, Doug Fehan and what he would say if we did touch. Then on the last lap I was thinking I had just enough on him, but then he towed up behind me. It was like the line was just going away from me. I couldn't get to the line fast enough. I've just seen a picture of it, actually, and it was pretty close." Lindsey's drive to the infield via the track received attention on social media. He said he learnt of this through a sponsor, and the public thought it was humorous.
Angelelli lost lucidity, strength and awareness of events around him because a cracked exhaust header caused the cockpit of the WTR Corvette DP to fill with exhaust fumes. He stopped on the NASCAR turn one run-off area, where track marshals waved yellow flags. WTR requested medical assistance from IMSA after failing to respond to a radio message from fainting with carbon monoxide poisoning. He was hospitalized in Daytona Beach and then Orlando, where he was treated in a hyperbaric chamber. Angelelli was released on February 1 for recuperation. WTR were interviewed by police and provided data and analysis of the incident to IMSA's Safety Field Investigation team. The GTD-class winning No. 44 Magnus Audi team was investigated for a suspected violation of drivers' stints but was cleared after IMSA found no rules violation.
The five Lamborghini Huracán V10 engines were impounded post-race and sent to NASCAR's research and development center in Concord, North Carolina, for dyno testing in February 2016. This came after the GTD manufacturers and IMSA communicated via e-mail about a series of requests to adjust the balance of performance before the race because Lamborghini ran an illegal air restrictor from an outdated Audi R8 LMS. 23 days after the event, Change Racing, Konrad Motorsport, O'Gara Motorsport and PMR incurred a retroactive five-minute stop-and-hold penalty for violating a regulation enacted to stop sandbagging. Lamborghini had its GTD Manufacturers' Championship and North American Endurance Cup points scored in Daytona invalidated and was fined $25,000. It was the first time since its introduction in 2014 that IMSA imposed the regulation. The No. 28 Konrad car was demoted from fifth to tenth, and the O'Gara car fell from tenth to fifteenth.
Because it was the first race of the season, Brown, Derani, Sharp and Van Overbeek led the Prototype Drivers' Championship with 36 points, with Angelelli, Rubens Barrichello, Jordan Taylor and Ricky Taylor second with 33 points. Misha Goikhberg, Koch, Chris Miller and Simpson led the PC points standings from Robert Alon, Nicholas Boulle, Gutiérrez and Kimber-Smith. Fässler, Gavin and Milner took the lead of the GTLM Drivers' Championship with their teammates García, Magnussen and Rockenfeller in second. In the GTD points standings, Andy Lally, John Potter, Rast and Seefried held sway over Catsburg, Patrick Long, Tim Pappas and Andy Pilgrim. ESM, JDC/Miller, Corvette Racing and Magnus Racing became the leaders of their respective class Teams' Championships. Honda, Chevrolet and Audi assumed the lead of their respective Manufacturers' Championships with 11 races left in the season.