10 hours was all it took to close the chapter on many different stories in IMSA.
From the President Scott Atherton stepping down to the last race for the Corvette C7.R, even the 50th anniversary of the IMSA series as a whole, there was plenty to witness in 2019.
It was the last race for the Porsche 911 RSR in IMSA, the last of the factory Ford GTs also. Everything was bittersweet in the final race of the IMSA series.
It was obvious from the beginning that the mile-record was going to be in danger with the fastest lap of the day coming from the No. 31 Daytona Prototype International machine and a time of 1:08.869.
Numerous lead changes occured in the event from the LMP2 category that saw title victory just 201 laps into the race when the PR1 Mathiaesen Motorsports entry ran longer then their opponent Performance Tech Motorsports who were taken out in an early crash.
Catching up with one of the PR1 drivers who were classified the LMP2 champions with three hours to go in the race Gabriel Aubry said it was pretty weird to be classified a champion despite not finishing the race.
“We have two hours before the end of the race and I’m sitting here,” Aubry said. “My intent when I came here to this championship was to learn the American tracks. I just fell in love with that championship so much.”
Outside of the LMP2 class, the rest of the race raged onwards. The GTLM category had numerous things happen. One of the Ford GTs that were leading the race made a mistake and wound up beached in the first turn of the course and ultimately struggled to make up the two-lap gap that had built while they waited to be rescued.
The battles remained intense despite one of the Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team dropping to the back of the class for hours, the top-five GTLM teams of the No. 67 Ford GT, the Risi Competizione Ferrari, BMW Team RLL’s No. 25, Porsche GT Team’s No. 912 and 911 along with Corvette Racing’s No. 3 waged a battle for the ages.
However, it didn’t overshadow the GT Daytona part of the field.
The GTD class also swapping positions throughout the event. Teams like Tuner Motorsport, Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Pfaff Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, Scuderia Corsa and even Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Racing program had their own lead changes.
But the story in GTD remained amongst the manufacturers title as Acura was hoping to to Lamborghini for the coveted bragging rights of their cars superiority.
However, it was going to be tough, given the Meyer-Shank Racing’s No. 86 driven by Trent Hindman, Justin Marks and Mario Farnbacher lost their radiator 201 laps into the event. But that didn’t put a damper on the fact that the No. 86 won the championship.
But when the final hour came, there was no telling how things would play out. A caution late in the race quickly bunched the field up.
The DPi leader Filipe Albuquerque came out of the caution with a rocket restart and looked to drive away, until a mechanical issue ended their day 30 minutes from the finish.
The GTD battle heated up as the top four teams were seperated by less than 10 seconds on the track with a BMW and Mercedes battle brewing as they were just a second apart.
But a late issue for Felipe Fraga who ran off track in the Mercedes opened the door for Bill Auberlen and BMW to take the class win in spectacular fashion.
Overall race winners on the night were Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Cadillac DPi, James Calado in the Ferrari 488 in GTLM. Auberlen in the No. 96 BMW M6 and Dalton Kellett driving an Oreca LMP2.