Rolex 24 couldn’t outrun NASCAR’s heavy hand

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The Rolex 24 from Daytona signaled the first race since the merger of the American Le Mans Series and the NASCAR-owned Grand Am series. While the homologation of the cars proved difficult indeed, the race control seems to have been all NASCAR.

With a handful of minutes left in the race, a pedestrian off from a Porsche prompted officials to throw a yellow flag for full-course caution. Not a local yellow, which is typical for this type of incident, but a full-course caution which can only been seen as a NASCAR-style “competition caution”. That may thrill fans at Talladega but for Sports Car fans, it’s a patronizing move and it’s a unfortunate way to complete a 24-hour grueling race regardless of the “excitement” of a “shootout”.

If that were the only heavy-handed move by race officials, perhaps fans could live with the thought that the first race post-merger was an eventful affair but that isn’t the end. Race officials decided, almost instantaneously, to penalize the GTD class winning Ferrari #555 from Level 5 Motorsports for avoidable contact with the Flying Lizard Audi #45…which is somewhat odd as there was no contact made between the two cars.

The rules may say that actual contact doesn’t have to take place for the avoidable contact penalty but fans were incensed by the call as they, and many drivers such as David Brabham, voiced their frustration on Twitter. It was an amazing response time for the penalty to occur which, quite honestly, was faster than I’ve seen from Formula 1, NASCAR or Le Mans. A shame to penalize Level 5 Motorsports for two professional drivers scrapping to the end. Isn’t that racing?

As it was, Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and  Sebastien Bourdais took the Prototype win in the Action Express racing Corvette and it can’t be ignored just how saturating the General Motors (GM) presence was at the race. It was almost the GM Corvette 24 hours at Daytona. I’m as excited as the next person to see GM involved but there were many story lines such as Mazda’s Diesel, Porsche’s new North American challenger, Audi’s increased approach to USC and the new Ford EcoBoost motor in the Ganassi team’s car.

The other challenge was the homologation which slowed the PC class cars down and made the Daytona Prototypes the class of the field and while they have come a long way, I would have liked to see some parity with these two classes. It’s difficult to find motivation if you are a PC class challenger when the GT Le Mans class cars are beating you.

In the end, the merger was successful, the racing had some of the best drivers in years and the GTD class was a lot of fun to watch. In all, the United Sportscar Championship would have been much better off if they had adopted the ALMS officiating and rule book as well. Applying NASCAR-style regulations, race control and penalty justification has left a sour taste in true sportscar fans mouths. If they wanted NASCAR, they’d watch NASCAR.

This series could be very popular as long as the NASCAR nuance remains muted. The teams, drivers and sport could use a new, combined officiating and regulatory system that perhaps IMSA could provide leaving NASCAR politics behind and placing real American road racing at the forefront.

Will fans continue to watch? Sure, but when it starts to feel and act like a NASCAR version of road racing, they may be looking for the ALMS again. Oh, could someone enlighten me as to what April Rose actually does during race weekends and what insight does she bring to the race or broadcast? A women parading around the paddock in a skin-tight spandex suit with cleavage for days smiling and waving for the camera is about as patronizing as the penalty for Level 5 Motorsports and the “competition caution”. I’m sure she’s a delightful woman but come on…

There were some great moments in the race but also some very scary moments and for this, I commend USC for their quick action. An early crash between Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli. Gidley suffered a broken back and has had surgery on his arm and leg. Both drivers were awake and communicative so the signs are good but it was a very scary moment indeed as fans around the world held their collective breath.

Results:

FinishCLASSCARCAR TYPELAPS COMPBEHIND LEADERBEHIND NEXT IN CLASS
1P5CORVETTE DP695– – –– – –
2P10CORVETTE DP6951.4611.461
3P9CORVETTE DP69519.48918.028
4P90CORVETTE DP6932 LAPS2 LAPS
5P6NISSAN ORECA6923 LAPS1 LAPS
6GTLM911PORSCHE 911 RSR67916 LAPS– – –
7GTLM55BMW Z4 GTE67916 LAPS2.838
8P42NISSAN MORGAN67817 LAPS14 LAPS
9PC54ORECA FLM0967817 LAPS– – –
10PC25ORECA FLM0967718 LAPS1 LAPS
11P2HPD ARX-03B67619 LAPS2 LAPS
12GTLM91SRT VIPER GTS-R67520 LAPS4 LAPS
13PC38ORECA FLM0966926 LAPS8 LAPS
14GTLM56BMW Z4 GTE66827 LAPS7 LAPS
15P02FORD ECOBOOST/RILEY66728 LAPS9 LAPS
16GTLM4CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R66629 LAPS2 LAPS
17PC52ORECA FLM0966233 LAPS7 LAPS
18GTD555FERRARI 458 ITALIA66233 LAPS– – – penalty for contact
19GTD45AUDI R8 LMS66233 LAPS1.293
20GTD58PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA66233 LAPS0.159
21GTD72FERRARI 458 ITALIA66233 LAPS13.760
22GTD35AUDI R8 LMS66134 LAPS1 LAPS
23GTD556FERRARI 458 ITALIA66134 LAPS3.061
24PC8ORECA FLM0965936 LAPS3 LAPS
25GTD94BMW Z465936 LAPS2 LAPS
26GTD22PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA65639 LAPS3 LAPS
27GTLM93SRT VIPER GTS-R65342 LAPS13 LAPS
28GTD30PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA65243 LAPS4 LAPS
29GTD65FERRARI 458 ITALIA64946 LAPS3 LAPS
30GTD63FERRARI 458 ITALIA64748 LAPS2 LAPS
31GTD44PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA64550 LAPS2 LAPS
32GTD73PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA64550 LAPS31.014
33GTD64FERRARI 458 ITALIA64550 LAPS25.084
34GTD23PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA63956 LAPS6 LAPS
35P50DINAN/RILEY63164 LAPS36 LAPS
36GTD48AUDI R8 LMS62669 LAPS13 LAPS
37GTLM57FERRARI F458 ITALIA62570 LAPS28 LAPS
38GTD51FERRARI 458 ITALIA62075 LAPS6 LAPS
39GTD49FERRARI 458 ITALIA61877 LAPS2 LAPS
40GTD33SRT VIPER GT3-R61580 LAPS3 LAPS
41P31CORVETTE DP61382 LAPS18 LAPS
42PC7ORECA FLM0961283 LAPS47 LAPS
43P01FORD ECOBOOST/RILEY61085 LAPS3 LAPS
44GTLM97ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE V861085 LAPS15 LAPS
45GTD19PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA60392 LAPS12 LAPS
46GTD28PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA60194 LAPS2 LAPS
47P60FORD ECOBOOST/RILEY59996 LAPS11 LAPS
48GTD007ASTON MARTIN V12 VANTAGE580115 LAPS21 LAPS
49GTD71PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA566129 LAPS14 LAPS
50GTD27PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA566129 LAPS13.590
51GTD81PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA560135 LAPS6 LAPS
52GTD009ASTON MARTIN V12 VANTAGE516179 LAPS44 LAPS
53GTD18PORSCHE 911 GT AMERICA492203 LAPS24 LAPS
54GTLM912PORSCHE 911 RSR489206 LAPS121 LAPS
55PC87ORECA FLM09460235 LAPS152 LAPS
56P07MAZDA SKYACTIV-D445250 LAPS154 LAPS
57P70MAZDA SKYACTIV-D369326 LAPS76 LAPS
58PC08ORECA FLM09361334 LAPS99 LAPS
59P1HPD ARX-03B359336 LAPS10 LAPS
60GTLM3CHEVROLET CORVETTE C7.R329366 LAPS160 LAPS
61P0DELTAWING DWC13288407 LAPS71 LAPS
62P78DINAN/RILEY238457 LAPS50 LAPS
63PC09ORECA FLM09177518 LAPS184 LAPS
64GTD32AUDI R8 LMS151544 LAPS341 LAPS
65P99CORVETTE DP92603 LAPS146 LAPS
66GTLM62FERRARI F458 ITALIA88607 LAPS241 LAPS
67GTD46AUDI R8 LMS5690 LAPS146 LAPS

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Tom Firth
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Tom Firth

I’ve got to agree entirely with what your saying , It’s a shame that the race ended the way it did because as an event, It was interesting and a success although I can’t help but feel the coverage was a little let down overall. I would of liked some live online streaming as the ALMS had, It’s rather awkward trying to watch 16+ hours of coverage without it and today with most other sportscar series worldwide offering this service, it would make sense for TUSCC to do so. Overall though a good start to the new championship , The… Read more »

Cody
Guest

There was live streaming. They were using a sports car channel feed, alternating with Fox, and three on-board cameras. The link was provided by Speed (Fox) on their live race blog.

Tom Firth
Guest
Tom Firth

The overnight and the onboards worked fine on IMSA.com and the FOX minisite and throughout but the rest of the race at least I couldn’t find a direct simulcast of the FOX broadcast, Although maybe its because of being outside of the USA, In which case, I apologise.

BadCaptain
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BadCaptain

If only they actually used NASCAR style officiating regarding the “contact” between the 555 Ferrari and the 45 Audi. When was the last time NASCAR gave out an avoidable contact penalty during a cup race? In fact when was the last time NASCAR gave out any kind of penalty during a cup race? Isn’t it their policy to let the drivers police themselves?

@_Canuck_
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@_Canuck_

At time F1 is like this with penalties and cations so i am not surprised afterall they or on a roaval.

@_Canuck_
Guest
@_Canuck_

At time F1 is like this with penalties and cations so i am not surprised afterall they are on a roaval.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

Saw a tweet where IMSA was in meetings to discuss the penalty at the end of the race. This may not be set in stone after all.

Rapierman
Member
Rapierman

UPDATE: Call reversed by IMSA! Race finishes as it stood before the incident!

Alianora La Canta
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Alianora La Canta

The “avoidable contact” penalty for avoided contact has been reversed.

Looks like Rolex 24 can outrun NASCAR’s heavy hand on a photo finish…

Tim
Guest
Tim

What I think is impressive is that IMSA can re-look at a situation, evaluate it carefully, and come to the correct decision. The tragedy would have been if they let the penalty stand. So . . . I’m ok with this part of the race. Now, the yellow flag, that’s a whole other story. That was just silly. A local yellow would have been fine, but a full course caution for a spin . . . come on. The car didn’t hit anything and was able to keep going. That’s what fans should be outraged about. The correct use of… Read more »

GaryKPDX
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GaryKPDX

Agree entirely with your analysis. After investing several hours watching an endurance race with all the subtleties that come into play, we are treated to a stupid NASCAR shootout and an arbitrary penalty. On the coverage side, I was simply unable to get the Fox stream. I don’t know if it was overloaded, needed Java to run or what. Maybe I have a Mac and Fox is a PC shop. I had tennis and cycling to watch so i was not very persistent with the streaming.