Reliability issues put Fernando Alonso out of contention at Daytona but another familiar name was in the winner’s circle at the end of the 24-hour endurance classic.
The #5 Action Express Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Christian Fittipaldi, Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa took top honours at Daytona on Sunday, the crew achieving a new mileage record in the process.
It was a 1-2 Cadillac triumph with Mike Conway, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran coming home second ahead of the first LMP2 entry, the Oreca driven by Romain Dumas, Loic Duval, Jonathan Bennett and Colin Braun.
United Autosports came in fourth thanks to the skilled crew composed of Paul di Resta, Bruno Senna, Will Owen and Hugo de Saedeleer.
The team’s #23 entry, steered by Alonso, Lando Norris and Phil Hanson was hit during the night by a puncture and a master cylinder failure which led to a lengthy stop and a drop down the order.
The team managed to climb back into the top-10 LMP2 standings before another brake issue dealt an irrecoverable blow to the United Autosports machine, leaving Alonso to ponder what may have been following a competitive start to the event on Saturday.
Having been at the wheel of the #23 car when it suffered its second brake problem, the Spaniard admitted he was unsettled by the sudden failure.
“On the brakes you are a little bit scared, no doubt,” he said.
“You arrive at the first corner – it happened twice at the first corner – so you arrive there around 300-310kph (190mph) and then you hit the brakes and there are no brakes.
“So luckily in this track you go directly to Turn 6, so you have an interesting shortcut there.
“At night obviously you don’t clearly see the tyre wall or where this escape road is, so that was even more scary, but it’s the way it is.
“You try to get the car back to the garage because you know in endurance racing this may happen and the mechanics will solve the problem.”
While pleased with his mount’s outright speed, the McLaren driver was disappointed with the reliability issues associated with the well-proven car. Ultimately however, he thoroughly enjoyed his first 24-hour race experience.
“I didn’t ask exactly what the problem was, but they’ve been racing with this car all last year,” he said.
“They were at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, they finished fourth, so it’s a car that is well proven. It’s not a new car where you come here and you have issues here and there.
“So it was a little bit of a surprise and a little bit unlucky. Even more for our sister car that was in the podium, clearly.
“We could be there. We were even one lap ahead of them at that moment. So we lost our opportunity here, but I have a positive outcome even with all the issues because I really did enjoy it a lot.
“It was a very nice experience, the whole event – the test, the quali, the restarts, the stints, the fatigue at night, the transition from night to day… It was very nice being on track at that time. I really enjoyed the traffic management, the car itself.
“Maybe the nicest thing was how competitive we felt. Because we entered the race with no high hopes because we were never competitive and suddenly we picked up the pace and everyone was smiling in the garage. So that was a nice feeling.
“Into the night it was a very good part of the race. The car felt quite competitive. It was a surprise because we were not very competitive in practice three weeks ago, and we were not competitive this week in pure laptime pace.
“I love driving and when you drive eight or nine hours in one race it’s much better than one. So it’s a very good feeling driving 24 hours.”
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