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Rear View Mirror 1-30-17

John Schommer
Monday, January 30, 2017

After watching almost all of the #Rolex24 Hours of Daytona and interacting live with the Forza community for a most of the race, I am still recovering. It was an amazing race with tons of ups and downs. Here is your Rear View Mirror coverage of the 2017 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.


Johniwanna Live Event

Over the course of the race, I chatted with a host of Forza fans from around the world. While many people, like René Grunner of ESL, and our own Helios T10 and Ayo Jube, stopped in to hang out for a bit, we had a steady crew of “hardcores” that stuck it out for nearly the entire race and live event.


Aside from a brief period of drifting in and out of delirium in the wee hours of Sunday morning, I watched the whole race. First thing Sunday morning, we fired up the final segment of the live event. Overall we had over 3,000 comments, many thousands of views, and more than 17 hours of my mug on your screens. Thanks to everyone who stopped in.



So Much New

This year the #Rolex24 brought us more than just great endurance racing, it was the debut of some seriously hot machinery. For the first time ever, we saw the new Porsche 911 RSR racing. That is the first mid-engined 911 in history.


With the introduction of the GT3 standard for the GTD class, we saw Mercedes-Benz, Acura, and Lexus all bring their racecars to the IMSA series. The Mercedes AMG-GT GT3 and the Lexus RC F GT3 both made their IMSA debuts and the Acura NSX GT3 made its worldwide racing debut at Daytona.


Then of course, in the top Prototype class, the new DPi car made its debut. While complicated as a whole, the new DPi cars intend to simplify the class and encourage manufacturer participation and collaboration. In short, this is a standardized chassis with a Gibson V8 engine. Gone are the DP cars of the past, and after this year the LM P2 cars of 2016 that remain will be gone as well. Also gone is the DeltaWing. There simply is no class for it to compete it in in IMSA any longer.


Change Racing Forza #16 Lamborghini Hurácan GT3

When it comes to racing, and Forza has a car in the race, that’s my favorite car. It’s who I cheer for, and for good or bad, my emotions are attached to how the Forza car fares in the race. This year, Change Racing is partnered with Turn 10 and running the #16 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in the full 2017 WeatherTech series.



As the HMA story I point to above tells, Change Racing has the youngest team in the series. They also have a pretty good record of success with the Huracán, winning the Super Trofeo series two times consecutively. Sadly, that previous track record did not translate to success at the #Rolex24.


Just three laps into the race, with Jeroen Mul behind the wheel, the #16 skirted off-track then smashed into a tire barrier at Turn 5. Thankfully, the driver was ok, and no other cars were involved in the incident.


After being hauled to the garage on the flatbed, the #16 received a completely new left side array of suspension, brakes, body work, radiator, splitter, and floor and returned to the track. While the possibility of contending for the win was out of the picture, valuable testing and seat time were still at stake.


Then, 76 laps later, coming out of the Bus stop with Brett Sandberg behind the wheel, the #16 hit the backstretch wall hard. Again, thankfully, the driver was uninjured, but the car was significantly damaged and was retired. According to team principle Robby Benton, “When it shows up for the next event, it’ll look new again.”



After 24 Hours

Saying “it was a long race,” simply does not do this #Rolex24 justice. While 21 full-course cautions are not a record, it seemed like it. The weather turned after dark, and rain was falling hard in the wee hours of night. The temperatures were in the 40’s. That put grip at a premium with full-wet tires and visibility somewhere between foggy and smeared. I heard several teams refer to the cold and wet as “miserable.”


To endure is more than just to keep the cars and teams together for 24 hours. It is to suffer the elements and get the job done. Thankfully, the weather did let up, just in time for the last 2-3 hours of racing to occur on slicks with more than just a dry line to race on.



The last seven, commercial-free, minutes of racing were worth the wait. Among the DPis the #10 and #5 Cadillacs were fighting it out. The rest of the Prototypes were a lap down or more. Ricky Taylor in the #10 was fighting hard for the win, not only for he and his brother Jordan who have never seen the top tier at Daytona, but for their long-time co-driver Max Angelelli who was to retire after this race.


With seven minutes left, Taylor came into the left hander after the high-speed stretch and set up on the inside. The #5 driven by Filipe Albuquerque moved to block or take that same line, and the result was the #10 tapping the rear of the #5, which sent the #5 car spinning. IMSA reviewed the incident and took no action. The #5 charged back to within less than a second behind, but the #10, the Taylors, and Angelelli, with help from Jeff Gordon, would take the overall win.


SPEED talks about the win


In GTLM, it was anyone’s race as the final minutes approached. The manufacturers were lined up like a parade of top racing brands with Ford leading the way. Ford apparently had something to prove. They brought not only their two American-based Ford GTLMs, but the two European ones as well. At one point the #4 Corvette was surrounded by all of them. It was an intimidating showing, and it paid off.



The #66, headed up by the same team that won at Le Mans last year, held off an unmitigated charge from the #911 Porsche driven by Patrick Pilet. “I destroyed my tires trying to catch him,” Pilet said, after taking a hard-fought second place. The #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 took third, followed by the #4 Corvette.


In GTD, the rest of the Lamborghini GT3s languished, with the top Hurácan finishing seventh. The #28 Porsche 911 GT3 R, led by father and son drivers Carlos and Michael de Quesada were the unexpected winners. Behind them was the #29 Audi R8 LMS GT3. Mercedes was able to earn a podium in their first IMSA race of 2017 with their all-star team. Acura cannot be to upset about a fifth place finish either. Lexus and the RC F had a rough time but the car looked competitive.


Next up, Sebring!


Here is the Fox crew breaking the entire race down


New Forza Gear

When Forza gear comes out, you have to get it while it’s hot, and this stuff is hot. If you want to show your love of Forza, check out this gear. Speed Gear has several t-shirt styles, different Forza-branded hoodies, plus Forza Motorsport or Forza Racing Championship hats.


DLC Clue Thread

Tomorrow is the 31st of January. Next week marks the first week of a new month. Let this be your official announcement that there will be a new car pack coming out next Tuesday for Forza Horizon 3. As is the tradition, and my job to support the release of the car pack, I will be putting together a February DLC Clue Thread. The clue thread will debut on Friday with the publication of the Week in Review. So, get your thinking caps warmed up now. I know you are hungry to start guessing.


In closing, let me just say I am constantly astounded by the people I have had the chance to get to know in the Forza community. You are an amazing bunch. I hope to see you tomorrow in the Tuesday stream on Beam and Twitch at 1 p.m. Pacific, where I will be taking on my Rivals for a bit before hunting up a few more roads with your help.


Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona photos courtesy of Chip Ganassi Racing.