A new era in top-level endurance racing kicked off this past weekend with the 24 Hours of Daytona, the opening round of the 2023 IMSA SportsCar Championship and the first to host the new GTP premier class open to LMDh and LMH hybrid race cars.
There were only LMDh race cars on the track, fielded by Acura, BMW, Cadillac, and Porsche, and it was Acura, the only manufacturer fielding a V-6-powered LMDh (the rest had V-8s), that came out on top.
The number 60 Acura ARX-06 fielded by Meyer Shank Racing and driven by Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves, and Simon Pagenaug was the first to cross the finish line. It finished 4.1 seconds ahead of the no. 10 Acura ARX-06 fielded by Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport and driven by Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Deletraz, Brendon Hartley. and Ricky Taylor.
Rounding out the top three places in the GTP class was the no. 1 Cadillac V-LMDh fielded by Cadillac Racing with Chip Ganassi and driven by Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, and Renger van der Zande.
No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06 at the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona
It was Acura's third consecutive win in the 24 Hours of Daytona, and second consecutive one-two finish.
The no. 60 ARX-06 started the race at pole and dominated most of the race until a series of caution flags closed up the field for the final eight hours. The two Cadillac V-LMDh cars put up a decent fight but were simply outpaced in the end. BMW's two M Hybrid V8s also didn't have the pace but proved more reliable than the pair of Porsche 963s, with the no. 7 Porsche losing multiple laps due to a battery change and the no. 6 car having to retire after it expired in a cloud of smoke.
First place in the LMP2 class and seventh overall went to the no. 55 Oreca 07 fielded by Proton Competition and driven by James Allen, Gianmaria Bruni, Francesco Pizzi, and Fred Poordad.
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 at the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona
And first place in the LMP3 class and 15th overall went to the no. 17 Duqueine D-08 fielded by AWA and driven by Wayne Boyd, Anthony Mantella, Thomas Merrill, and Nicolás Varrone.
Further down, a GTD car finished ahead of a GTD Pro car. In this case, the no. 27 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 fielded by Heart of Racing Team and driven by Roman De Angelis, Ian James, Marco Sørensen, and Darren Turner finished first in the GTD class and 16th overall. First in the GTD Pro class and 17th overall was the no. 79 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 Evo fielded by WeatherTech Racing and driven by Maro Engel, Jules Gounon, Daniel Juncadella, and Cooper MacNeil. The GTD Pro class is the replacement for the former GTLM class which was previously the premier class for production-based cars.
The next round on the 2023 SportsCar Championship calendar is the 12 Hours of Sebring on Mar. 18.