It took every hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona to determine who would be declared the victor in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class at Daytona International Speedway.
From the start, the strongest contenders appeared to be the two Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR-19 entries – the car’s official IMSA debut – versus the two BMW M8 GTEs for BMW Team RLL. However, Corvette Racing and Risi Competizione took turns in the top three as well.
In the final hours of the race, a blanket could have been thrown over the Porsches and the No. 24 BMW of Jesse Krohn, John Edwards, Augusto Farfus and Chaz Mostert. Edwards handed the car over to Krohn in the lead with two hours remaining, but Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche was able to pass the BMW fairly quickly after the stop.
Krohn lost ground but valiantly fought back to get bumper-to-bumper with Tandy with less than an hour remaining. The Finn pulled his BMW on the outside of the Porsche down the front stretch heading into Turn 1 but was initially unable to complete the “over-under” pass.
However, if you don’t succeed, try and try again.
Just a few minutes later, Krohn pulled the same move on the front stretch and, with momentum, swung from the outside to the inside of Tandy’s Porsche heading towards the International Horseshoe. He stuck the BMW to complete the pass and didn’t relinquish the lead for the remaining 45 minutes.
“It’s stressful,” said Krohn. “I had little sleep through the night. It was all on my shoulders in the end. I didn’t want to be the guy who finishes second and denies these guys the watches. I put my head down. I didn’t know how we did it. I’m out of words. No mistakes from anyone at BMW RLL. This is what it takes to win the race.”
Sunday’s victory marked back-to-back GTLM wins at the Rolex 24 for BMW Team RLL. Their 2019 victory being the most recent time the team stood on the top step of the podium.
Farfus is the only driver that was part of both winning lineups. For Krohn, Edwards and Mostert, this is their first Rolex watch. Additionally, IMSA entered the Rolex 24 weekend with 997 winners in the sanctioning body’s top-tier series. Mostert was one of five first-time WeatherTech Championship winners at the Rolex 24, sending that number over 1,000 to 1,002.
“We were back and forth with the Porsche, we’d get out ahead, fall back, get in front,” said Edwards. “It was a hard fight. I think running at the end of a Daytona 24 hour is a different race. I’d like to say it was a fun battle, but it took a lot out of me. This is by far the biggest victory of my life.”
After Krohn’s pass, the No. 24 BMW set sail, with the Nos. 911 and 912 Porsches dueling among themselves for the final two podium positions. With under 40 minutes remaining, Earl Bamber in the No. 912 passed his teammate Tandy in the No. 911. The finishing order remained the same, with Bamber co-driving with Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet, and Tandy alongside Frederick Makowiecki and Matt Campbell.
Corvette Racing is still in search of its 100th IMSA victory, with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg finishing the highest of the team’s two entries in fourth.
The BMW Team RLL’s No. 25 of Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng, Bruno Spengler and Colton Herta rounded out the top five.