The 55th 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, from January 28 to 29, 2017. It was the first of twelve events in the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship, the 55th 24 Hours of Daytona, and the first in the four-round North American Endurance Cup.
João Barbosa started from pole position for Mustang Sampling Racing by lapping quickest in qualifying, and held the lead for most of the opening hour until teammate Dane Cameron of Whelen Engineering Racing passed him. Wayne Taylor Racing joined in the battle and traded the lead with the Mustang Sampling Racing, VisitFlorida Racing, Extreme Speed Motorsports and Whelen Engineering Racing teams during the event. Late in the race, Ricky Taylor collided with Filipe Albuquerque and held him off in the final minutes to achieve victory for him, Max Angelelli, Jeff Gordon, and Jordan Taylor after 659 laps to lead the Prototype Drivers' and Teams' Championships. Albuquerque, Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi followed 0.671 seconds later in second and VisitFlorida Racing's Marc Goossens, René Rast and Renger van der Zande completed the overall podium one lap behind in third.
The Prototype Challenge (PC) category was won by the Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 vehicle shared by Nicholas Boulle, James French, Kyle Masson, and Patricio O'Ward after leading the category's final 514 laps. BAR1 Motorsport's No. 26 entry of David Cheng, Trent Hindman, Adam Merzon, Johnny Mowlem, and Tom Papadopoulos finished 22 laps down in second and third was the sister BAR1 car of Chapman Ducote, Mark Kvamme, Buddy Rice, Gustavo Yacamán, and Don Yount. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing won the Grand Touring Le Mans (GTLM) category with a Ford GT shared by Sébastien Bourdais, Joey Hand, and Dirk Müller by 2.988 seconds over the Porsche 911 RSR driven by Frédéric Makowiecki, Patrick Pilet, and Dirk Werner that beat the third-placed Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of James Calado, Giancarlo Fisichella, and Toni Vilander by 0.091 seconds. Alegra Motorsports team of Michael Christensen, Carlos de Quesada, Michael de Quesada, Jesse Lazare, and Daniel Morad won the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class in a Porsche 911 GT3 R by 0.293 seconds after Christensen overtook Montaplast by Land-Motorsport's Audi R8 LMS of Connor De Phillippi, Jules Gounon, Christopher Mies, and Jeffrey Schmidt in the race's final hour. The Riley Motorsports - Team AMG-fielded Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen, Adam Christodoulou, Ben Keating, and Mario Farnbacher completed the class podium in third.
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's (IMSA) president Scott Atherton confirmed the race was part of the 2017 IMSA SportsCar Championship schedule in August 2016. It was the fourth year in a row the race was part of the series calendar and the 55th 24 Hours of Daytona. The 24 Hours of Daytona was the first of twelve scheduled automobile endurance races of 2017 by IMSA, and the first of four North American Endurance Cup (NAEC) events. It occurred at the 12-turn 3.56 mi (5.73 km) Daytona International Speedway combined road course in Daytona Beach, Florida, from January 28 to 29.
A total of 55 cars were officially entered for the event with most entries in the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) class. The 2016 winners, Extreme Speed Motorsports (ESM), returned to defend their title. Daytona marked the debut of IMSA's Daytona Prototype International (DPi) cars in place of Daytona Prototype (DP) machinery to compete alongside the revised Automobile Club de l'Ouest-regulated Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) cars in the Prototype category. Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR), Mustang Sampling Racing and Whelen Engineering Racing (WER) each fielded one Cadillac DPi-V.R car and ESM entered two Nissan Onroak DPi vehicles. Mazda Motorsports sent two Mazda RT24-P chassis and VisitFlorida Racing entered a single Riley Mk. 30 LMP2-specification car for Daytona. Oreca was represented by three 07-Gibson cars with one each fielded by JDC-Miller Motorsports (moving from the Prototype Challenge (PC) class), DragonSpeed and Daytona debutants Rebellion Racing. The PC category was composed of five Oreca FLM09s: two each from BAR1 Motorsports and Starworks Motorsport and one from Performance Tech Motorsports.
GT Le Mans (GTLM) consisted of 11 vehicles from five different brands. Porsche's GT Team debuted the mid-engined 911 RSR while Ford Chip Ganassi Racing (CGR) and its UK division each fielded two Ford GTs for a four cars in total. Team RLL entered two BMW M6 GTLMs and Corvette Racing fielded two C7.Rs. Ferrari was represented by one Ferrari 488 GTE fielded by Risi Competizione. GTD featured 27 entrants among 9 different GT3 manufacturers. Lamborghini was the most represented marque in GTD with eight Huracáns: two by GRT Grasser Racing Team and one each by Change Racing, DAC Motorsports, Dream Racing Competition, Ebimotors, Konrad Motorsport and Paul Miller Racing. Porsche was represented by five 911 GT3 Rs with one entered by Alegra Motorsports, CORE Autosport, Manthey Racing, Park Place Motorsports and The Racer's Group each. A mix of teams and automotive brands made up the rest of the GTD field. These included three Audi R8 LMS with one each fielded by Alex Job Racing, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport and Stevenson Motorsports and three Mercedes-AMG GT3s by Riley Motorsports - Team AMG, Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech Racing and SunEnergy1 Racing. Michael Shank Racing partnered with Acura for two debuting Acura NSX GT3 as 3GT Racing gave two Lexus RC F GT3s their competition debut at Daytona. Scuderia Corsa and Spirit of Race both entered one Ferrari 488 GT3 apiece. There was one Aston Martin Racing-fielded Vantage GT3 and one Turner Motorsport-entered BMW M6 GT3.
Each car was driven by two full-time entrants along with one NAEC racer and one or two extra competitors. These additional participants were recruited from a variety of racing categories, including the FIA World Endurance Championship (such as Neel Jani for Rebellion Racing and Brendon Hartley for ESM), the Supercars Championship (such as Shane van Gisbergen for Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech Racing), the IndyCar Series (such as Scott Dixon for CGR and James Hinchcliffe for Mazda Motorsports), the Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters (such as Robert Wickens for Starworks Motorsport), and Super GT (such as Andrea Caldarelli for Paul Miller Racing). Some drivers competed at Daytona on a one-off basis, such as four-time NASCAR Cup Series champion Jeff Gordon, and Formula E racer Sam Bird. Seb Morris joined WER after winning the Sunoco Whelen Challenge for British GT Championship, Radical Team Challenge and Radical European Masters entrants.
The week before the official three-day test session at the circuit, IMSA altered the balance of performance in all four categories to create parity. All Prototype entries had 930 kg (2,050 lb) of baseline weight and 75 L (16 imp gal; 20 US gal) fuel cell capacity. The PC category received no performance changes. The Ford GT received an boost ratio curve increase to attempt to ease performance, the Aston Martin Vantage had 50 kilograms (110 lb) of minimum weight added for worse handling and the Lamborghini Huracán's power was reduced by a 1 mm (0.039 in) air restrictor reduction to two 39 mm (1.5 in) openings. All DPi cars had their performance raised. The Mazda RT24-P and Nissan Onroak DPis received turbocharger boost raises across all RPM ranges and the Cadillac DPi-V.R. had its air restrictor increased by 1.2 mm (0.047 in). The Ligier JS P217, Oreca 07 or Riley Mk. 30 LMP2 machines had no performance changes. The GTLM-category Porsche 911 RSR had its minimum rear wing angle set at zero degrees. The GTD and PC classes had no performance alterations.
There were 55 entries involved in a seven-session, three day test at Daytona from January 6 to 8 as race preparation. Some drivers such as Corey Lewis, Matt McMurry, Gustavo Menezes and Alessandro Pier Guidi missed testing because they were racing in the Asian Le Mans Series's 4 Hours of Thailiand. The first day saw warm and low-wind weather. Neel Jani set the first session's best lap of 1:39.164 in Rebellion's No. 13 Oreca car before improving by 0.004 seconds in the second session. Mathias Beche was second in JDC-Miller's No. 85 entry. The fastest DPi car was WTR's No. 10 Cadillac of Ricky Taylor in third, followed by José Gutiérrez's PR1/Mathiasen No. 52 Ligier and Nicolas Lapierre's No. 81 DragonSpeed Oreca in fourth and fifth. Johnny Mowlem's No. 26 BAR1 Oreca car led PC with a 1:42.701 lap. A crash by Clark Toppe aboard Performance Tech's No. 38 car against the Bus Stop chicane barrier heavily damaged the car after an hour's testing. Toppe was uninjured. Jan Magnussen led the morning session in GTLM with a 1:44.760 lap in Corvette's No. 3 C7.R and remained top in the afternoon session from Dirk Müller's and Andy Priaulx's Nos. 66 and 67 Fords. Andrew Davis' No. 57 Stevenson Audi led GTD.
Jani again set the fastest overall lap of 1:38.944 during testing's second day. Tristan Nunez's No. 55 Mazda was second with Ben Hanley' DragonSpeed car third and JDC-Miller's Oreca car fourth. WTR's Cadillac of Jordan Taylor came fifth. Pato O'Ward led in PC at 1:43.119 driving Performance Tech's car. Dixon's No. 67 Ford led in GTLM with a 1:44.558 lap recorded during the afternoon session and was two-tenths of a second quicker than Magnunssen's second-placed No. 3 Corvette. A major fire caused by a fuel line allowing fuel to escape and ignite on the warm engine compartment surface in Corvette's No. 4 C7.R of Marcel Fässler entering NASCAR turn two caused him to stop on the infield with front-left corner damage. Fässler was unhrt; he was evaluated and then released from the infield medical center. Corvette Racing withdrew from testing to investigate the fire's cause. Christopher Mies' No. 29 Land Audi lapped at 1:47.723 to pace GTD. A stoppage on the circuit for João Barbosa's No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and a collision between Patrick Pilet's No. 911 Porsche and the No. 98 Aston Martin that damaged Pilet's left-front suspension disrupted testing.
Testing's third and last day saw DragonSpeed's Hanley lap fastest overall at 1:38.343, 0.020 seconds quicker than Jonathan Bomarito's second-placed No. 55 Mazda. Sébastien Buemi put the Rebellion Oreca third, the PR1/Matheisen car came fourth with Barbosa's Mustang Sampling Cadillac the fastest DPi entry in fifth. Performance Tech continued to lead in PC after a lap by James French. GTLM was led by Ryan Briscoe's No. 67 Ford with a 1:44.380 lap, two-tenths of a second faster than Tony Kanaan's second-placed sister No. 69 car. Sven Müller lapped fastest in GTD at 1:46.810 in Manthey's No. 59 Porsche in the morning session, going a tenth of a second quicker than Jeroen Bleekemolen's second-placed No. 33 Riley Mercedes-AMG.
After testing, IMSA again adjusted the balance of performance in all categories. The Mazda RT24-P and Nissan Onroak DPis had their fuel tanks raised while the Mazda and Riley Mk. 30s received minimum main plane angles for two approved rear wing choices. Cadillac's DPi-V.R.s rear wing assembly was moved back by two degrees. The PC cars had less fuel capacity and shorter hose restrictors. All five GTLM cars had minimum rear wing angles altered and refuelling flow restrictors established. All GTD-class machinery received weight adjustments. The Audi R8 LMS, Lamborghini Huracán, Porsche 911 R and Mercedes-AMGs had their performance lowered with air restrictor reductions and the fuel capacities of the Lamborghini, the Lexus and Mercedes-AMG cars were reduced. All nine GTD cars had their refuelling flow restrictors established.
There were four practice sessions preceding the race's start on Saturday, three on Thursday and one on Friday. The first two one-hour sessions were on Thursday morning and afternoon. The third held that evening lasted 90 minutes; the fourth on Friday morning lasted an hour.
The first practice session happened in cloudy weather. Cadillacs led with the best lap set by Mustang Sampling's Christian Fittipaldi at 1:38.196 to unofficially surpass Alex Gurney's 2014 DP class record, 0.792 seconds faster than WTR's Ricky Taylor in second. Mike Conway was third in WER's No. 31 vehicle. The quickest LMP2 lap was set by Hanley in DragonSpeed's fourth-placed entry with Beche's JDC-Miller entry fifth. Stéphane Sarrazin stopped the Rebellion Oreca on the banking and brought a halt to practice with 15 minutes remaining. He was able to return to the pit lane. The five-vehicle PC class was led by BAR1's No. 20 Oreca of Gustavo Yacamán with a time of 1:43.668. The quickest GTLM entry was the No. 68 Ford of Olivier Pla whose 1:44.755 lap put him ahead of Porsche's second-placed No. 912 RSR of Laurens Vanthoor. With a 1:47.778 lap, Alessandro Balzan led the 27-car GTD class in Scuderia Corsa's No. 63 Ferrari by a tenth of a second from Christian Engelhart's No. 61 GRT Lamborghini.
In the second practice session, Barbosa's Mustang Sampling car lapped quickest at 1:38.549, 0.177 seconds ahead of WTR's Ricky Taylor in second and WER's Dane Cameron completed in a duplicate of the top three from the first session. Orecas followed in fourth to sixth with Loïc Duval's DragonSpeed, JDC-Miller's Stephen Simpson and Rebellion's Jani. ESM's No. 22 Nissan of Johannes van Overbeek stopped entering the backstraight with no fuel and was recovered to the pit lane during a red flag period. A spin by Duval into the turn one inside exit barrier saw DragonSpeed's car sustain major left-hand side damage and ended practice with five minutes left. Johnny Mowlem led PC with a 1:44.175 lap in BAR1's No. 26 Oreca with O'Ward's Performance Tech car second. In GTLM, Pla's 1:44.245 lap set with approximately ten minutes remaining led the class in Ford's No. 66 car, almost three-tenths of a second faster than Toni Vilander's Risi Ferrari. Bill Auberlen's No. 19 BMW was third. GTD saw Patrick Lindsey's No. 73 Park Place Porsche record the quickest class lap of 1:47.135, 0.059 seconds faster than Pier Guidi's No. 51 Spirit of Race Ferrari.
Thursday afternoon's 90-minute four-group qualifying saw each category run separate 15-minute sessions. Regulations stipulated teams to nominate one qualifying driver, with the fastest laps determining each classes starting order. IMSA arranged the grid to put Prototypes ahead of all PC, GTLM and GTD cars. Barbosa achieved his first career pole position with a 1:36.903 class lap record in Mustang Sampling's Cadillac. His teammate Cameron qualified the sister WER entry 0.072 seconds slower in second and Jani third-placed Rebellion entry became the fastest Oreca car late in the session. WTR's Ricky Taylor had pole position for most of qualifying before Jani's lap demoted him to fourth. The ESM duo of Hartley and Ryan Dalziel qualified fifth and sixth. The DragonSpeed Oreca did not partake in qualifying because the team received permission from IMSA to switch to the spare tub from their spare car to replace the one damaged beyond repair by Duval's second practice session accident.
French took the PC pole position for Performance Tech with a 1:42.559 time set on his final lap with five minutes left. Mowlem qualified the No. 26 BAR1 entry second and Buddy Rice's sister No. 20 car was third after leading the class for most of the session. In GTLM, Ford took the first three positions led by its No. 66 car of Joey Hand whose benchmark time of 1:43.473 was 0.231 seconds faster than Richard Westbrook's second-placed sister No. 67 entry. Pla's No. 68 car was third. Pla avoided damaging his car against the tyre barrier at the International Horseshoe with less than five minutes remaining. The fastest Porsche was Pilet's No. 911 RSR in fourth and the highest-placed Ferrari was Vilander's fifth-placed No. 62 488 GTE. Ferrari qualified first and second in GTD led by Spirit of Race's Pier Guidi at 1:47.099 from Scuderia Corsa's Balzan by 0.018 seconds after Balzan's final lap was slower. Marco Sørensen qualified the Aston Martin third ahead of Matteo Cairoli's fourth-placed Manthey Porsche and Mirko Bortolotti's fifth-placed No. 11 GRT Lamborghini.
The third practice session saw Max Angelelli lap quickest for WRT at 1:37.757, 0.148 seconds ahead of Barbosa in second. ESM were third and fourth after laps by Hartley and Scott Sharp with WER's Cameron fifth. Gordon caused a stoppage early on when he lost control of WTR's car. O'Ward led in PC with a 1:43.634 lap in Performance Tech's car to go 0.824 seconds over Remo Ruscitti in Starworks' second-placed No. 8 entry. A lap of 1:44.242 saw Briscoe's No. 67 Ford lead GTLM from the No. 912 Porsche of Kévin Estre and the No. 911 Porsche of Dirk Werner by less than a tenth of a second. Porsche paced GTD with Park Place's 911 of Jörg Bergmeister lapping at 1:48.084 over Robert Alon's No. 15 3GT Lexus. Jeroen Mul stopped the No. 16 Change Lamborghini on the track entering the Bus Stop chicane with half an hour left and saw practice red-flagged again.
In the last practice session, Jordan Taylor went fastest for WTR at 1:36.790 on his final lap. Lapierre's rebuilt DragonSpeed Oreca was second, followed by Mustang Sampling's Fittipaldi who set a time late on for third. Rebellion was fourth after a lap by Jani and VisitFlorida Racing's No. 90 Cadillac of René Rast was fifth. Yacamán's No. 20 BAR1 Oreca led PC with a 1:43.164 lap, quicker than Wickens' No. 8 Starworks vehicle. Hand's No. 66 Ford paced GTLM with a 1:43.490 lap, 0.053 seconds quicker than Werner's No. 911 Porsche. GTD was led by Paul Miller's Audi of Calderelli with a late lap of 1:47.455, 0.056 seconds faster than Bleekemolen's Riley Mercedes-AMG. Kaz Grala's Change Lamborghini was third. There were two stoppages during the session. The first stoppage came 13 minutes in when the Risi Ferrari laid oil on the circuit. Emmanuel Anassis' DAC Lamborghini necessitated the second stoppage due to a left-rear tire failure caused by low air pressure, destroying the car against the turn one barrier. The car was recovered to the pit lane on a flat bed truck. IMSA allowed DAC to switch to a 2016 O'Gara Motorsports display Lamborghini.
|1||P||5||Mustang Sampling Racing||João Barbosa||1:36.903||1|
|2||P||31||Whelen Engineering Racing||Dane Cameron||1:36.973||2|
|3||P||13||Rebellion Racing||Neel Jani||1:37.123||3|
|4||P||10||Wayne Taylor Racing||Ricky Taylor||1:37.169||4|
|5||P||22||Tequila Patrón ESM||Brendon Hartley||1:37.609||5|
|6||P||2||Tequila Patrón ESM||Ryan Dalziel||1:38.251||6|
|7||P||85||JDC-Miller MotorSports||Stephen Simpson||1:38.915||7|
|8||P||52||PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports||Tom Kimber-Smith||1:39.149||8|
|9||P||55||Mazda Motorsports||Jonathan Bomarito||1:39.940||9|
|10||P||70||Mazda Motorsports||Joel Miller||1:39.973||10|
|11||P||90||VisitFlorida Racing||Marc Goossens||1:40.532||11|
|12||PC||38||Performance Tech Motorsports||James French||1:42.559||12|
|13||PC||26||BAR1 Motorsports||Johnny Mowlem||1:43.396||13|
|14||GTLM||66||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Joey Hand||1:43.473||18|
|15||PC||20||BAR1 Motorsports||Buddy Rice||1:43.515||14|
|16||GTLM||67||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Richard Westbrook||1:43.704||19|
|17||GTLM||68||Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK||Olivier Pla||1:43.987||20|
|18||GTLM||62||Risi Competizione||Toni Vilander||1:44.121||21|
|19||GTLM||911||Porsche GT Team||Patrick Pilet||1:44.251||22|
|20||GTLM||69||Ford Chip Ganassi Team UK||Andy Priaulx||1:44.256||23|
|21||GTLM||3||Corvette Racing||Jan Magnussen||1:44.359||24|
|22||GTLM||912||Porsche GT Team||Kévin Estre||1:44.591||25|
|23||GTLM||4||Corvette Racing||Oliver Gavin||1:44.685||26|
|24||GTLM||19||BMW Team RLL||Bill Auberlen||1:44.759||27|
|25||GTLM||24||BMW Team RLL||John Edwards||1:44.974||28|
|26||PC||8||Starworks Motorsport||Chris Cumming||1:46.628||15|
|27||GTD||51||Spirit of Race||Alessandro Pier Guidi||1:47.099||29|
|28||GTD||63||Scuderia Corsa||Alessandro Balzan||1:47.117||30|
|29||PC||88||Starworks Motorsport||Alex Popow||1:47.682||16|
|30||GTD||98||Aston Martin Racing||Marco Sørensen||1:47.734||31|
|31||GTD||59||Manthey Racing||Matteo Cairoli||1:47.736||32|
|32||GTD||11||GRT Grasser Racing Team||Mirko Bortolotti||1:47.785||33|
|33||GTD||29||Montaplast by Land-Motorsport||Connor De Phillippi||1:48.213||34|
|34||GTD||93||Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian||Andy Lally||1:48.268||35|
|35||GTD||28||Alegra Motorsports||Daniel Morad||1:48.341||36|
|36||GTD||86||Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian||Jeff Segal||1:48.350||37|
|37||GTD||73||Park Place Motorsports||Patrick Lindsey||1:48.424||38|
|38||GTD||61||GRT Grasser Racing Team||Christian Engelhart||1:48.483||39|
|39||GTD||48||Paul Miller Racing||Bryan Sellers||1:48.496||40|
|40||GTD||14||3GT Racing||Scott Pruett||1:48.541||41|
|41||GTD||16||Change Racing||Jeroen Mul||1:48.590||42|
|42||GTD||57||Stevenson Motorsports||Andrew Davis||1:48.683||43|
|43||GTD||23||Alex Job Racing||Pierre Kaffer||1:48.798||44|
|44||GTD||96||Turner Motorsport||Justin Marks||1:48.810||45|
|45||GTD||75||SunEnergy1 Racing||Boris Said||1:48.969||46|
|46||GTD||33||Riley Motorports - Team AMG||Ben Keating||1:49.056||47|
|47||GTD||15||3GT Racing||Austin Cindric||1:49.130||48|
|48||GTD||21||Konrad Motorsport||Marco Mapelli||1:49.322||49|
|51||GTD||50||Riley Motorsports - WeatherTech Racing||Cooper MacNeil||1:49.809||52|
|52||GTD||54||CORE Autosport||Jon Bennett||1:50.809||53|
|53||GTD||18||DAC Motorsports||Emmanuel Anassis||1:51.517||54|
|54||GTD||27||Dream Racing Motorsport||Lawrence DeGeorge||1:55.835||55|
|-||P||81||DragonSpeed||Did not participate||17|
Weather conditions at the start of the race were cool and cloudy with an ambient temperature of 55 °F (13 °C). Dario Franchitti, triple Indianapolis 500 and 2008 24 Hours of Daytona champion, commanded the drivers to start their engines. The green flag was waved by honorary starter Hurley Haywood at 2:30 pm on 28 January to commence proceedings, led by the starting pole sitter Barbosa. All 55 cars took the start and Barbosa maintained the lead for AER with Johnny Mowlem taking the PC lead from Performance Tech's entry. The first full course caution was deployed on lap five when Mul crashed the Change Lamborghini into the left-hand side tire barrier at turn five (the West Horsehoe) after going onto the right-hand side grass and sustained left-front car damage; safety crews were required to extricate the car from the wall. When racing resumed eight minutes later, Cameron overtook his teammate Barbosa on the inside at the Bus Stop chicane after 16 laps. Ricky Taylor fast pace moved WTR from fourth to second overall by the first hour's conclusion as French retook the PC lead from Mowlem.
Taylor's pace for WTR promoted him to the overall lead when he overtook Barbosa's AER Cadillac in the second hour and Lindsey passed Christina Nielsen's No. 63 Risi Ferrari to lead GTD. Scott Pruett lost control of 3GT's No. 14 Lexus leaving turn one and went across the road in front of Tommy Milner's No. 4 Corvette. He struck the left-hand side pit lane exit barrier head-on. No other car was involved in the incident, which triggered the second caution. Pruett exited the car unaided; he was transported to the infield care center and later released. The Lexus was immediately retired due to severe damage. Behind the safety car that led the field for 20 minutes, the Rebellion Oreca's hold on fourth position was relinquished when Jani brought the car into the garage for eleven laps to have the engine drive-by-wire throttle motor switched. After racing resumed, Tom Long tried to return to the circuit in the flow of traffic following a pit stop in the No. 70 Mazda but he and the front-left of Gordon's braking-locking WTR Cadillac collided in the International Horseshoe turn. The accident lost WTR the overall lead to Morris' WER car and fell to third overall. Long was penalized one minute and issued a stop-and-go-penalty. GTD saw the class lead go to Jules Gounon's Land Audi from Lindsey's Park Place Porsche.
Following Morris' error at the first chicane and near collision with a GTD-category Lamborghini, the WER car of Eric Curran stalled in the pit lane after Curran relieved Morris and was moved into the garage for troubleshooting. It was demoted to third overall as Fittipaldi took the lead with Gordon being relieved by WTR's second-placed Max Angelelli. The third caution was needed when the No. 8 Starworks PC Oreca car of John Falb attempted to lap McMurry's Park Place Porsche entering the Bus Stop chicane but the two cars collided and struck the tire barrier. The Porsche was immediately retired as Falb entered the pit lane for repairs. McMurry was treated at the infield medical center and released. Falb was deemed responsible for the accident, being assessed an eight-minute stop-and-go penalty and was summoned to race control. Curran returned to the lead during the pit stop cycle when teammate Fittipaldi's rear bodywork was replaced due to a rear lights failure but later lost it to Angelelli.
As night fell, Mike Gausch lost control of PR1/Mathiasen's Ligier car in the International Horseshoe corner, being avoided by Curran's race-leading WER car and Angelelli's WTR Cadillac. GTD had become a multi-car battle with the lead changing several times between manufacturers over the following hours. The Risi Ferrari had an anxious moment when it and the No. 991 TRG Porsche collided under braking for the Bus Stop chicane but continued without losing the GTLM lead. James Dayson's No. 88 Starworks PC Oreca entry was being overtaken by Curran's WER Cadillac on the outside on the banking when the two collided. Dayson crashed into the inside barrier and sustained right-hand side suspension damage that forced his slow return to the pit lane before being moved by a recovery vehicle. The accident required a fourth caution for extensive cleanup; Curran continued driving with minor damage led at the restart. Angelelli overtook Curran to return the WTR Cadillac to the overall lead.
Fässler's fourth-placed No. 4 Corvette in GTLM was hit from behind by Harry Tincknell's No. 69 Ford and spun into the infield grass. The No. 4 Corvette suffered a complete power shutdown on the banking, causing Fässler to stop on the inside of the backstraightaway leaving the second turn. Consequently, the fifth caution was necessitated to allow for the Corvette's recovery to the pit lane. During the caution, Conway's WER Cadillac was forced behind the pit lane wall with a starter motor problem that required push starting the car following two refuelling stops. Light rain began falling in the sixth hour and increase in intensity as several teams brought their cars into the pit lane for wet-weather tires. When racing resumed, WTR's Jordan Taylor's drove on dry tires that lost temperature and pressure during the caution. He relinquished the lead to Filipe Albuquerque's Mustang Sampling car after a pit stop for wet-weather tires. In the seventh hour, the No. 50 Riley Mercedes of Cooper MacNeil ceded the GTD lead due to a flat tire damaging its front-right wheel suspension componentry and was sent to the garage for an inspection for further damage from the tire.
The sixth caution was prompted for more than 20 minutes when Kyle Masson lost control of the PC-category leading Performance Tech car at the International Horseshoe turn in front of Conway, who avoided the incident. Masson was able to restart his vehicle without trouble, leaving no debris and did not relinquish the PC lead. GTLM became a multi-car battle with representatives of each of the five entered manufacturers with the cars running close behind each other on the same lap. Vilander's Risi Ferrari became the new GTLM leader following pit stops ahead of Sébastien Bourdais' No. 66 Ford. Conway lost the WER Cadillac second overall to Jordan Taylor's WTR entry when Conway ran wide at the first turn. The WER vehicle was later forced into the garage for six laps to repair steering wheel and suspension damage caused by its fifth hour accident with Dayson by replacing the right-front toe link. ESM's No. 22 Nissan of Hartley and later Bruno Senna took the lead when the battling WTR Cadillac of Ricky Taylor was lapping slower and Mustang Sampling's repaired a faulty rear brake light problem by repacing their car's rear end.
Land's Audi of Connor De Phillippi ceded the GTD lead to Core's No. 54 Porsche of Colin Braun when the Audi sustained a flat right-rear tire due to debris accumulated on the circuit during the event and was forced to make a pit stop. Not long after, the Change Lamborghini of Brett Sandberg struck the Bus Stop chicane exit barrier, which caused the seventh caution. Following 20 minutes of the caution period, Kanaan was able to lap quickly in the wet conditions and moved the No. 69 Ford from seventh to second in GTLM. 3GT's sole-remaining Lexus of Dominik Farnbacher bowed out of the battle for the GTD lead when it made an unscheduled pit stop for a replacement door due to a right-rear tire failure on the banking destroying the car's right-rear section. An eighth caution was needed when Hartley in the second-placed No. 22 ESM Nissan failed to generate tyre temperature on the wet track, causing him to run onto the grass at both hairpins. He hit the side of Wolf Henzler's No. 991 Porsche leaving turn six, spinning him sideways into the outside barrier on the banking. Hartley could not steer due to damage and stopped on the entrance to the Bus Stop chicane for recovery by officials to the pit lane on a flatbed truck. This incident promoted the Mustang Sampling Cadillac of Barbosa to second overall, a lap behind WTR's Ricky Taylor.
When racing resumed, Mies moved the Land Audi past the No. 93 MSR Acura of Andy Lally for the GTD class lead. The No. 67 Ford of Briscoe sustained rear wing damage against the barrier at the exit of the Bus Stop chicane after losing control and went to the garage for repairs. At half distance, the WTR Cadillac of Angelelli led overall from VisitFlorida's entry of Rast as Performance Tech led in PC. Estre took the GTLM lead halfway through the 11th hour in Porsche's No. 912 RSR from his teammate Pilet's No. 911 car in order to counter Ford's strategy switch while MSR's Acura of Jeff Segal led in GTD with De Phillipi lapping approximately three seconds faster in Land's second-placed Audi. The ninth caution came out when Nic Jönsson was apparently hit from behind by an Audi on the entry to the Bus Stop chicane and damaged the car's left-hand corner against the barrier. The car was retired due to heavy damage following an inspection in the garage. Jönsson was unhurt; he was checked at the medical center and released.
Following the resumption of racing, Angelelli was later issued a drive-through penalty after the refueller inserted the fuelling nozzle before the fire extinguisher was moved over the pit lane wall, dropping the WTR car to second and promoting Rast's VisitFlorida car to the lead. Continuous rainfall that progressively increased in intensity prompted officials to deploy the race's 10th caution for 54 minutes. Shortly after racing resumed, MacNeil lost control of Riley's No. 50 Mercedes exiting the second corner and damaged its front-left suspension against the inside barrier, prompting the 11th caution. The Mercedes was retired due to heavy damage. Just before a 12th caution was needed because Trent Hindman's No. 26 BAR Oreca PC-class car stopped in the Bus Stop chicane, WTR's Angelelli retook the lead from Rast's VisitFlorida entry as Porsche's faster pace in the rain allowed Werner's No. 911 car into the GTLM lead. WER's Curran's dropped out of contention for the win when he entered the garage for shifter repairs.
In the early morning a 13th caution was deployed for one hour and 42 minutes due to heavy rain just before the Risi Ferrari of James Calado overtook Werner's No. 911 Porsche to lead in GTLM. The long caution period meant the Audi R8 safety car was running low on fuel and had to be replaced by a Porsche Cayenne until the Audi was refuelled; teams were notified by race control that there would be no race stoppage due to the caution period but the large amount of standing water made racing unsafe. French had an anxious moment when he lost control of the PC leading Performance Tech car at the International Horseshoe turn but recovered without losing the category lead. Marc Goossens' VisitFlorida entry took the lead during the caution when Ricky Taylor made a troubled pit stop in WTR's Cadillac that saw it refuse to start;[a] Goossens lost the lead to Albuquerque's Mustang Sampling car at the restart. Ricky Taylor caught and overtook Albuquerue for the lead before VisitFlorida's car of Renger van der Zande was issued a drive-through penalty for repeatedly shortcutting the Bus Stop chicane after IMSA race director Beaux Barfield told teams of the nonacceptance of such errors.
David Cheng's No. 26 BAR1 Oreca PC car shed the front bodywork onto the circuit exiting the Western Horseshoe turn after the car sustained damage, which prompted the 14th caution as Buddy Rice's No. 20 BAR1 entry entered the garage for rear bodywork repairs. Bourdais was able to return the No. 66 Ford GT back to the GTLM lead and WTR regained the lead it had lost to Barbosa when Angelelli passed the Mustang Sampling Cadillac. The fourth-placed No. 2 ESM Nissan of Sharp crashed into an advertising hoarding in the infield that was left on the racing surface but a caution was not needed to remove the signage. A 15th caution came out when Jack Hawksworth crashed the No. 15 3GT Lexus into the outside tire barrier at turn six but continued driving. Vilander moved the Risi Ferrari past Hand's No. 66 Ford and Antonio García's No. 3 Corvette for the GTLM lead before being closed in on when the circuit dried. Several teams began to install dry tyres onto their cars in the pit lane when a dry line began to emerge on the track, making them lap faster than on a wet surface. Angelelli had an anxious moment when he ran onto a damp curb and lost control of WTR's Cadillac entering the Bus Stop chicane but kept the overall lead over Barbosa.
In the 21st hour, Chris Cumming caused the 16th caution when he spun the No. 8 Starworks PC car into the inside barrier leaving the first corner and retired. A 17th caution then came out when Trent Hindman spun the No. 26 BAR1 car on cold tires during his out-lap entering the first turn. He crashed into the tire wall but not before continuing by reversing. Hanley's DragonSpeed Oreca in the Bus Stop chicane and removed most of the car's rear bodywork, triggering the 18th caution. Bird moved Scuderia Corsa's Ferrari to the GTD lead before its engine failed on the exit of the inside at turn six before the banking, causing a 19th caution. The Ferrari's retirement allowed Gounon's Land Audi into the class lead. Michael Christensen's No. 28 Alegra Porsche joined the battle in GTD, led by Riley's No. 33 Mercedes of Bleekemolen from Lally's No. 93 MSR Acura. Ricky Taylor's WTR and Mustang Sampling's Albuquerue duelled for the overall lead and Hand moved the No. 66 Ford back to first in GTLM.
A 20th caution was triggered after the radiator duct on Lally's No. 93 MSR Acura detached from the hood and landed on the circuit, causing airflow into it to be disrupted and overheat the gearbox enough to force the car into the pit lane. Ricky Taylor and Albquerque continued to battle for the win upon the resumption of racing while García's No. 3 Corvette took the lead in GTLM after a pit stop cycle before losing out to Müller's No. 66 Ford and Calado's Risi Ferrari. Riley's No. 33 Mercedes led GTD before it was passed by De Phillipi's Land Audi and Christensen's Alegra Porsche due to a lack of grip. The 21st and final caution was needed when Lally stopped the No. 93 MSR Acura on the infield grass close to the entry of turn five due to a loss of power and needed recovering. When racing continued, Ricky Taylor was second and unsuccessfully attempted to pass Albuquerque on the outside at the first infield hairpin. He tried again braking into turn one and the WTR Cadillac's front-right hit the Mustang Sampling car's left-rear, promoting Ricky Taylor to the lead and causing Albuquerque to spin. Race control investigated the collision, taking no action against Taylor.
Taylor maintained the lead under pressure from Albuquerque to achieve WTR's second Daytona win by 0.671 seconds after 659 laps. The VisitFlorida Riley car that was slower in dry weather than in wet conditions was the highest-placed LMP2 entry in third. The battle in GTLM continued until the final hour, as Müller's No. 66 Ford gave CGR victory by 2.988 seconds over Pilet's No. 911 Porsche; Pilet failed repeatedly to overtake Müller into the first turn and overstressing his Porsche's tyres. The Risi Ferrari completed the GTLM podium in third with Calado 0.091 seconds behind Pilet as the latter slowed on the final lap. In the final PC race at Daytona, the final 514 laps were led by Performance Tech's Oreca FLM09, which finished 22 laps over the second-placed No. 2 BAR1 team in its maiden IMSA victory and class win since the 2013 Baltimore Sports Car Challenge. The GTD duel lasted to the final hour when Christensen's strategy to stop for fuel in the final hour and conserve it during the last caution progressed him past Mies' Land Audi in Alegras' first Daytona class win since 2007 by 0.293 seconds. Bleekemolen's No. 50 Riley Motorsport's car was third in GTD in Mercedes' maiden IMSA event.
Albuquerque expressed his displeasure over the late-race collision with Ricky Taylor that lost AER the overall victory, saying: "If he's a true racer who did a mistake, just back off. Wait, don't leave. And he left! A true racer, in my opinion, in the end, deep inside, I'd feel a little bit ashamed of the win." Ricky Taylor defended WTR's race-winning pass, arguing: "Obviously I'd been working on it for a while, looking at where we were strong, and it's the 24 Hours so everybody is going to take a risk. I don't understand what he says about closing the door and getting hit. If you get enough alongside, you can make it work. I think he saw me coming, he saw me committing and, like he said, he closed the door." Rast admitted to being surprised to finish on the podium given VisitFlorida's lack of preparation for the event: "We actually expected to stop in our garage after 50 minutes, because we didn't know how long the car will last. We were counting the laps, because our longest run before was maybe 10 or 11 laps. We never did 20 [laps] or 1 hour in a row, so we didn't know what to expect, but the car was just running and running without any big issues."
Bourdais and Hand paid tribute to their teammate Müller for passing García's Corvette and Calado's Ferrari and fending off Pilet's Porsche to secure the No. 66 Ford team victory in GTLM. Müller described the race's concluding two hours as "nerve-racking" and added: "Ferrari and Porsche really turned it up at the end. They were so much faster on the straight all of a sudden. I just had to stick to my line and cover myself. I really enjoyed racing again Patrick [Pilet] and James Calado. I think that was one of the best GT races you could have seen, that you coulda dreamed of." Alegra team owner and racer Carlos de Quesada said he was proud to give young drivers the opportunity to showcase their abilities at Daytona: "I like helping young kids. I watched the kids grow up through karting, watching my son, and I remember Daniel racing. We'd do all the winter tours and everything. And just that dream, the hopes of kids trying to get to the next level, and so I tried to do what I can."
Christensen said: "It's really tough just to keep it on track, and yeah, our plan was to stay on the lead lap and have a perfect race car for the end of the race." Gounon said the reason Land Motorsports did not win in GTD was because IMSA installed a smaller-sized fuel restrictor on their Audi that elongated their pit stops. Performance Tech team principal Brent O'Neill called his team's PC class win "really special": "There were a lot of people after the Roar that didn't think that our car was going to be winning any races any time soon, but here we are. This was good for the whole team. It was a great morale booster as we head into the rest of the season." Atherton said that three of the four categories saw race-long battles demonstrated the effectiveness of IMSA's Technical Committee getting their calculations correct when establishing its regulations and restrictions: "While we recognize it will always be a topic of great debate, we believe it was extremely fair and equitable for all involved."
As this was the season's first round, Angelelli, Gordon and the Taylor Brothers led the Prototype Drivers' Championship with 35 points, ahead of Albuquerue, Barbosa and Fittipaldi by three points. Nicholas Boulle, French, Masson and O'Ward led the PC points standings from Cheng, Hindman, Adam Merzon, Mowlem and Tom Papadopoulos. Bourdais, Hand and Müller held the GTLM Drivers' Championship lead over Frédéric Makowiecki, Pilet and Werner. In GTD, Christensen, Carlos de Quesada, Michael de Quesada, Jesse Lazare and Daniel Morad led the class points standings from De Phillipi, Gounon, Mies and Jeffery Schmidt. WTR, Performance Tech, CGR and Alegra all led their respective Teams' Championships as Cadillac, Ford and Porsche led their respective Manufacturers' Championships with 11 rounds remaining in the season.