CADILLAC CLASH DECIDES DAYTONA
Race winner takes ex-alex Martin Focus
A collision between the two leading Cadillacs decided the result of the Daytona 24 Hours last weekend as the IMSA Sportscar Championship’s new DPI era began.
In the end it was the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor, Max Angelelli and Jeff Gordon that triumphed by just over half a second from the Action Express Racing crew of Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.
The clash came with seven minutes remaining when Ricky Taylor attempted a move on leader Albuquerque into Turn 1. Albuquerque closed the door but Taylor didn’t back out, resulting in the Action Express car spinning.
“I don’t think I lost the race, I don’t race like this,” said a disgruntled Albuquerque. “He hit me up the back, so I spun and he didn’t even wait for me, he just took off.
“If the officials don’t agree that it’s a penalty, then OK. He could have waited for me, for the fight but it didn’t happen.
“I’m happy with what I did. I came back still, but not enough. That’s it.”
British GT racer Seb Morris starred on his Daytona debut – thanks to winning the Sunoco Whelen Challenge – twice leading the race in his Action Express machine. But a collision with a backmarker while Eric Curran was behind the wheel and later gearbox issues left Morris 14th overall at the finish.
In the GT Le Mans class, it was the Ford GT of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais that triumphed after resisting pressure from the Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet, Frederic Makowiecki and Dirk Werner late in the contest.
Sunoco 200 Challenge winner Max Bladon finished 11th in a Racers Edge Motorsport Aston Martin in the four-hour IMSA Sportscar Challenge support race on the Friday before the 24 Hours.
Late dramas for Bladon’s team-mates Ramin Abdolvahabi and Chris Beaufait prevented the squad from finishing any higher up the order.
Race winner Stephen Jelley will return to the British Touring Car Championship this season driving a Team Parker Racing Ford Focus ST after a seven-year sabbatical.
The Leicester driver contested two seasons of the BTCC in a WSR BMW 320si in 2008 and 2009, and took two victories, both at Rockingham.
Since then, Jelley has competed in GTS and the Porsche Carrera Cup GB. Jelley drove for Stuart Parker’s team in the Porsche contest last year and was fifth in the standings.
He will return to the tin-top top flight in the car previously used by Alex Martin.
Jelley said: “It was always my aim to come back to the BTCC – I didn’t want to leave, but the finances just weren’t there.
“Team Parker Racing can have a long future in this category and I want a long future here too, so we are looking to build together. I haven’t raced a front-wheel-drive car before so there will be a big test programme ahead of the season to get me up to speed.
“As for my aims, I will wait to see where we are after the opening sessions before we can make a realistic assessment. We are just going to focus on our own performance first and foremost.”
Team boss Stuart Parker said: “We are thrilled to have Stephen with us – he has driven for the team for four seasons in the Porsche Carrera Cup in his career and he is part of the fixtures and fittings at the squad.
“We have had two great years with Alex, who was learning all the time. Stephen is a proven race winner at this level and, although he will be getting to grips with front-wheel-drive for the first time, he can help us move forward.
“If we can be challenging inside the top 10, and then who knows what can happen with the reverse-grid draw.”
Morris starred at Daytona WTR crew won after late collisionPhotos: LAT
Jelley was fifth in Carrera Cup GB in ’16