Monday, January 15, 2024

ROLEX 24: 2023 Qualifying Recap

As so much for a Quiet “Buildup” to the Race’s Main Event!


Strange, how much another elongated Offseason can make you suddenly Crave some Motor Racing, Eh? Since it had only been just over Two and-a-Half months since I’d last “watched,” Err listened to the (2022) Brazilian Grand Prix Wayback’ on November 13th. While I won’t even belabour How Stupendously long Indy Cars Off season is! Seriously, One Half of a Gory Year, Yikes!


Thus for Humour, I decided to try seeing if I could pull-up Friday’s second practice session via Ye Intrawoods’, nee internet, which I did via IMSA Radio. And it was G-R-R-R-Reat! Hearing John Hindhaugh’s voice once again. Whose definitely my Numero Uno Announcer!


Then I listened to Sunday’s Qualifying session in it’s entirety, including the extra 20mins “Warm-up” session for the GTP runners preceding Qualifying. As I’m really not sure why they needed the extra 20mins? But IMSA seemed overly intent on giving them every opportunity to work out potential Bugs prior to Thar maiden race outing…


First out was All 33 GTD racers, i.e.; GTD Pro and GTD, for which the first four positions were filled by Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo racecars! With the No. 57 Winward Racing entry with Philip Ellis taking the overall Pole. As three GTD Mercs’ led the way, with the “Heinz 57” followed by the #32 Team Korthoff Motorsports and #75 SunEnergy1 Racing entries ahead of the fastest GTD Pro entry in P4, the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing entry.


Next up in what seemed sort of stupid! Like why couldn’t they have combined the LMP2 and LMP3 categories together? Yet instead the LMP3 Class got 15mins alone. In what became a massive back “n forth Scrum for Pole. Which finally went to 18yr Old Chilean Nico Pino in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsports Ligier. Which was Pino’s Debutante Pole position.


Ditto for the LMP2 Class, having 15mins on the Day-Toner’ High banks All to themselves. As Ben Keating in the #52 PR1/ Mathiasen Motorsport entry took Pole ahead of His Arch-nemesis Steven Thomas in the #11 TDS Racing entry, which includes Rinus VeeKay.


As I enjoyed Keating’s Aw Shucks I’m Talkin’ Smack Texas Drawl during the Pole winner’s interview. With Keating claiming that Thomas wouldn’t let Him go ahead of Him ON-track, so He just used Him for a “Tow” to Claim Pole!


But the Big News was the massive crash that Tower Motorsports No. 8’s Team Boss John Farano suffered at the Bus Stop Chicane. To which Keating said He wasn’t surprised by. Noting that the first two days they’d had a 10mph Headwind which Had suddenly switched to a 20mph Tailwind there!


Yet Farano wasn’t the only driver to crash at the Bus Stop. As it was kinda Funny Hearing Hindhaugh muse how Nick Tandy in the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsport’s 963 was the first to Officially Crash a GTP entry during Thar 20mins Qualie’ session.


As Tandy was supposedly on a Flyer that was headed towards Pole before losing the car Arse-sumedly due to the Mega’ Tailwind, bringing out the Day’s second Red Flag. Followed by Tom “the Bomb” Blomqvist in Meyer Shank Racin’g #60 Acura ARX-06 claiming Pole position on a single lap “Flyer!”


Obviously both of these Prototype chassis were completely rebuilt before practice kicked off four days later. When unfortunately  things got serious during Thursday morning’s first practice session before the race.


As Lucas Auer lost control of the No. 57 Windward Racing’s GTD Pole sitting Mercedes and Slammed Head-on into a Concrete Wall, writing off the Mercedes!

As Auer had to be extracted thru the roof hatch with major injuries to His Back.


As later that night I caught Racer’s Video recap with Marshall Pruett, Graham Goodwin and Sebastien Bourdais. With Bourdais saying it looked like a compression fracture to Him, albeit it wouldn’t be as Bad as His Nasty Accident at Mother Speedway since you’re at least sitting upright in the GTD Cars…


As this Had to be the story of the eventual race for Mwah. When the Winward Racing team amazingly got it’s spare Mercedes-AMG GT3racecar out to Daytona from it’s Houston Shop

Lickidly Split! As I thought I’d heard that the team’s Spotter – Who also serves as it’s (Semi) Hauler’s Driver had flown back to Houston. And then drove the team’s spare chassis to Daytona. For which the backup chassis happened to be a previous race winner.


As GT4 racer David Morad substituted for Auer, who reportedly broke His Back.


As Auer is the nephew of somebody named Gerhard Berger, who you may recall once was a Ferrari and McLaren Formula 1 Driver. Along with previously owning some racing series called DTM.


As here’s a No Fenders tome I scribbled about Herr Berger a long, long time ago…


As the Winward’s Fairytale Dream of redemption came up just 35 minutes short! After having been forced to start last in the GTD Field due to replacing it’s entry, the team ran as far as second in class for periods of time. But then on a final restart it All went Pear Shape! As Pilip Ellis who was trying to pass the GTD Pro Corvette for a shot at the eventual winning GTD No. 27 entry collided and suffered Driveshaft damage I believe…