Meyer Shank Racing Rules 60th Rolex 24 at Daytona

Before the 60th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona began, promptly at 1:40PM on January 29th, all talk at Daytona International Speedway centered on how all drivers in the 61-car field were going to deal with traffic around the 3.56-mile road/oval course – and the cold weather that had inundated northern Florida for the week leading up to the race and during the 24-hour period slotted for this start to IMSA’s 53rd season and its premier race in the WeatherTech SportsCar championship.

By the time 1:40PM rolled around on Sunday afternoon, the talk was about who survived and who fell off the pace. At the checkered flags it wasn’t the blue and black defending three-time consecutive champions, Wayne Taylor Racing’s (WTR) No. 10 Acura ARX-05 collecting a fourth set of Rolex watches. No, it was the hot pink Acura of Meyer Shank Racing’s (MSR) No. 60 taking the honors three seconds ahead of WTR, earning their second victory in this difficult contest.

This result for MSR is especially poignant and significant. Before he brought Jim Meyer on-board as his partner in 2017, Mike Shank earned victory in this IMSA race in 2012, the 50th edition of the mid-winter classic. Shank had been trying for ten years to win the Rolex 24 and he earned victory in, conceivably the toughest event on the calendar. Surprisingly he had to wait another ten years to accomplish the feat a second time, with a different car, manufacturer and a totally new set of drivers.

Meyer and Shank’s partnership allowed them to succeed again in 2022, with a stellar quartet of drivers: four-time Indianapolis 500 winner Helio Castroneves, who helped MSR to its first victory in that contest in May of last year (and was on WTR’s 2021 Rolex 24 winning team) and Simon Pagenaud, the 2019 Indy 500 champion and NTT INDYCAR SERIES titleholder in 2016, both times driving for Team Penske, where Castroneves earned his first three Indy 500 titles. Full-season competitors Oliver Jarvis, who drove for Mazda before it exited the series and  former BMW Motorsport standout Tom Blomqvist rounded out the complement of MSR competitors.

There were seven entries in the WeatherTech series’ premier DPi prototype class, making its swan song in 2022 before the GTP(LMDh) hybrid class takes over at this race next January. In addition to the two Acura prototypes that finished one-two, there were five Cadillac prototypes on the grounds. The No. 5 JDC Motorsports Cadillac rounded out the podium in DPi. This trio were less than five seconds apart at the end of 24 hours. That’s how competitive this long race turned out to be.

The No. 31 Whelen Cadillac took fourth place, completing the same 761 laps as the winners and balance of the podium, while the Jimmie Johnson and Kamui Kobayashi-led No. 48 Ally Cadillac’s issues found it in 11th position, 22 laps behind the leaders, followed by the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing, 27 laps down in 12th place, while Ganassi’s No. 01 finished behind the LMP3 victor in 14th place, 39 laps back. Both of Chip Ganassi’s cars had issues of one sort or another.

Victory in LMP2 went to the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA ORECA LMP2 07 of Eric Lux, Devlin DeFrancesco, Patricio O’Ward and Colton Herta. The latter three drivers are entered in this year’s NTT INDYCAR SERIES championship; DeFrancesco is a rookie driver for Andretti Autosport, while O’Ward returns with Arrow McLaren SP and Colton Herta is DeFrancesco’s Andretti Autosport teammate. Herta brought the car to the checkered flags after a spirited fight to the close after a late race final caution.

For the second consecutive year, the No. 74 LIGIER JS P320 Riley Motorsports entry for Gar Robinson, Felipe Fraga, Kay van Berlo and Michael Cooper earned their Rolex watches over the Sean Creech Motorsport No. 33  car of Joao Barbosa, Malthe Jakobsen, Seb Priaux and Lance Willsey, leading the second-place car by a lap.The bright orange and blue prototype was either at the front of the class or close at hand throughout the race, showing the proficiency of both the team and its drivers.

The GTD Pro class is new to IMSA’s WeatherTech series for 2022 and caused disruptions from the norm, which was the usual and customary sight of Corvette Racing at the front of the pack. An electrical issue sent the No. 3 C8.R mid-engine sports car to the garages for 13 laps in the middle of the night and guaranteed the lack of victory for the 2021 GTLM champs. The No. 4 Corvette had to recover from incident damage and spent almost 2.5 hours in the garages. The full-season No. 3 salvaged sixth in class; the No. 4 was tenth at the close of the race.

Those issues left the door open for the other new entries in 2022. With a robust 13 GTD Pro cars on the 61-car grid, there was real competition throughout the field, between the Corvettes, Porsches, BMWs, Mercedes-Benz, Aston Martin, Lamborghini, Ferrari and Lexus. Not every one of them led the race but it was Porsche, with the Pfaff Motorsports team of Matt Campbell, Mathieu Jaminet and Felipe Nasr first to the checkers.

The most heavily-populated class, GTD had 22 entries for this race, but none of them could keep up with the bright blue Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R of extremely experienced endurance racers Ryan Hardwick, Zachary Robichon, Jan Heylen and Richard Lietz. To understand how competitive this class was at Daytona, the top four runners were all on the same, 707th lap at the close of a day of racing. In fact, the second-placed Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of John Potter, Andy Lally, Spencer Pumpelly and Jonathan Adam was less than 15 seconds behind the leader.

In all cases, class winners kept appropriate pace over two 12-hour shifts with the long goal in mind., even as 17 cautions – but no serious incidents – unfolded. It was fitting, as the clock wound down, that the sun would come out and warm the great crowd that had assembled, once again, to watch the finest endurance racing stars of the world compete for glory, watches and points in the season-long WeatherTech and Michelin Endurance Championship points. Camping had been sold out a year ago and it was easy to see that the regulars weren’t going to let COVID-19 steal the 60th annual Rolex 24 at Daytona.

About Anne Proffit 1264 Articles
Anne Proffit traces her love of racing - in particular drag racing - to her childhood days in Philadelphia, where Atco Dragway, Englishtown and Maple Grove Raceway were destinations just made for her. As a diversion, she was the first editor of IMSA’s Arrow newsletter, and now writes about and photographs sports cars, Indy cars, Formula 1, MotoGP, NASCAR, Formula Drift, Red Bull Global Rallycross - in addition to her first love of NHRA drag racing. A specialty is a particular admiration for the people that build and tune drag racing engines.

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