24 Hours of Daytona

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The night has a certain calm about it. A time to sit and reflect on the days events. It was noisy, the smell of race fuel was in the air and yet it was still calming. When I took this photo the race was already hours old. I was tired; everybody was. This was only the halfway mark.

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Rewind three days, day one of the 2016 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, kicking off the 2016 IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car Championship.

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The action began with practice on Thursday and the weather was rather damp.

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I shouldn’t have been surprised that it started raining. I’ve had had wonderful luck with rain recently.

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Since it wasn’t snowing like back home in Minnesota, I didn’t mind for about an hour. Then it really started raining and it was miserable.

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Rain continued during qualifying and as the light faded quickly conditions become more and more treacherous.

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Friday morning arrived and the sun was shining.

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Cars were quick to get on track and practice in the dry.

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As the day came to a close teams finished up as quickly as they could, making final adjustments and dialing in the cars for the race.

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Race day had arrived and teams were working bright and early.

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The pits were buzzing as teams were busy getting ready for a grueling 24 hours.

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The morning moved by quickly; soon the cars were backed out of their garages and began heading towards the grid.

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As the fans began to walk the grid the drivers also made their way towards the cars.

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The fans quickly began to clear the grid and it was time to go racing.

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Sometimes you make the mistake of not checking to see if the card in your camera is full. Mine was, so I missed the start of the Prototype cars. I was able to catch the pack of GTLM and GTD cars as the roared past the start/finish line.

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It only took a lap and the GTLM field was already battling like it was the final hour of the race.

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Everybody was pushing as hard as they could.

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As the first few hours ticked away the race seemed to be going by very quickly.

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Before long, the sun began to go down.

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When night fell the clock seemed to stop.

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A certain rhythm set in.

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With the simple goal of surviving the night. Execute everything perfectly.

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Hit your brake zones……

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…….Safely navigate traffic.

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Watching the drivers through the night is fascinating to me. You really see the skill level they possess in the dark.

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The night is long and unforgiving.

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Things can go wrong in an instant and not everyone survived the night.

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Lucas Luhr of BMW Team RLL also suffered a mechanical failure and had big hit with the wall. He was ok but the car had to be retired.

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The night rolled on and my energy was quickly fading.

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I spent about 20 minutes just staring off and watching cars go by.

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Like I said earlier. It was surprisingly calming and peaceful. Most of the fans don’t watch the race during the night.

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After a night that seemed to be never ending light began to show itself.

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The sunrise sure made up for a very lacking sunset.

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It was pretty epic.

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The light revealed the dirt and the grime that racing for 24 hours cakes on the cars.

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The final few hours of the race had begun…..

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….the grind of 24 hours of racing was starting to show on the face of the crews.

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This late in the race there is no room for error.

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Drivers must continue to execute every corner of the track perfectly.

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And teams must execute pit stops perfectly.

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The final hour went by in the snap of a finger.

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The number 4 Corvette made its final pit before taking the win over their sister car by only 34 thousandths of a second. You can really see the amount of grime that builds up over 24 hours.
It makes for awesome photos.

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Just as quickly as it all began, the race was over.

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The Rolexes were handed out by Mr Le Mans himself, Tom Kristensen, who served as the Grand Marshall for the weekend.

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Scott Sharp, Ed Brown, Johannes Van Overbeek, and Pipo Derani of Tequila Patron ESM and their Honda powered Ligier JS P2 took the overall win.

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Wayne Taylor Racing’s Corvette Daytona Prototype taking second place and the Visit Florida Racing Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP coming in third. The Prototype Challenge class was won by JDC Miller Motorsports, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports taking second and BAR1 Motorsports taking third.

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The GT field led by the GTLM class was taken by the number 4 Corvette of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler. As stated before it was a 1-2 finish for the team with the 912 Porsche North America 911 RSR coming in third. GTD was taken by Magnus Racing followed by Black Swan Racing and the Dodge Viper of Riley Motorsports.

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736 laps. 2,620.16 miles. 76 lead changes. GTLM margin of victory of 0.034 seconds. These are the numbers. This race is something one must witness. For me it was around a 38 hour ordeal. I was sore, tired, taxed; just about any way you could describe being a “walking zombie” but it was worth it. So now it’s on to Sebring, half the time and twice as hard.

-Peter Lapinski

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