Cadillac wins 2020 Rolex Daytona 24, Chevrolet C8.R makes first start
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Konica Minolta Cadillac took the checkered flag at the conclusion of the 58th Rolex 24 at Daytona over the weekend, setting a new distance record in the process. The number 10 Daytona Prototype International (DPi), piloted by Kamui Kobayashi, Scott Dixon, Ryan Briscoe, and Genger van der Zande, fought off a strong showing from the number 77 Mazda Team Joest and finished more than a minute ahead of the Mazda. This marks the fourth straight Rolex 24 win for Cadillac, and third victory in four years for Wayne Taylor Racing.
The Konica Minolta team was competitive all night, but Briscoe left the pits too soon on a Sunday morning stop, leading to a penalty that brought the car back into the pit to park for a full minute. That dropped them into fourth place, yet Briscoe was able to battle back into the lead with help from a yellow flag that bunched the pack up behind the pace car. With less than three hours left, Kobayashi took over behind the wheel and not only fended off Team Joest, but grew the lead.
The Konica Minolta Cadillac completed 833 laps, or 2965.48 miles, breaking the 2876.85-mile record set in 2018 by the Mustang Sampling Racing team Cadillac.
In GT Le Mans (GTLM) the big news was the competition debut of the Corvette C8.R, as two cars from Corvette Racing took to the track with the new mid-engine racer. The number 3 car, in traditional Corvette livery with yellow and black, was piloted by Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, and Nicky Catsburg. The silver and yellow car was driven by Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, and Marcel Fassler. Both teams were able to hang with the number 24 BMW M8 that was fast on the straights, although their major rivals were the twin mid-engine Porsche RSRs.
The number 911 Porsche and number 912 Porsche seemed to be linked together early in the race, chasing the BMW, with the number 912 taking the class lead just hours in. By sundown, the number 3 Corvette was challenging the Porches and took the class lead for a moment.
Late on Saturday, Corvette number 4 had a problem with its transaxle and retreated to the garage. After a few hours of trying to fix the issue from under the car, the team decided to pull the entire powertrain. We didn’t see much of the team’s secretive engine, as the powertrain was removed and a new gearbox was installed. Hours behind the competition, it returned to the race after sunrise. Despite being so far behind, Corvette Racing’s persistence enabled them to collect more valuable race data and claim the number six spot in class after Ferrari’s DNF.
As the afternoon drew near, the number 24 BMW M8 reestablished its dominance with the Porsche RSRs again battling the number 3 Corvette. The C8.R was charging hard with Catsburg trailing the Porsches closely until he spun with about three hours and fifteen minutes left in the race, costing him about 15 seconds. Somehow he was able to close the gap over the next 25 minutes and take second in class. It looked like Catsburg and the Corvette team had a chance at the podium with less than two hours remaining but it could not overcome its pit stop schedule, settling for a hard-fought fourth in GTLM behind the M8 at twin RSRs.
Even after the race, Chevrolet was secretive about the C8.R’s powerplant. The quick look we got makes us think that it is unique from Cadillac’s Blackwing V-8. One tech tidbit that we picked up was that the DOHC V-8 uses outboard-mounted direct injectors located underneath the exhaust ports, as opposed to the pushrod LT2, which mounts the injectors in the lifter valley side beneath the intake port. Perhaps more details will shake loose after Sebring. In the meantime, we’ll keep digging for details.