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Record Rolex Run

The winning Cadillac DPi. [Photo by Jack Webster]

The winning Cadillac DPi. [Photo by Jack Webster]

By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

The 2018 running of the Rolex 24 was one for the record books, and likely the distance record set during the race (808 laps) will remain unbroken for some time.

The 808 laps (2876.480 miles) was made possible for a number of reasons. The pace was quick from the start, with 20 prototypes pushing to the limit the entire time and there were only four full course caution periods for a total of just over one and one quarter hours. In addition, except for a brief rain shower on Saturday evening, the weather was mild.

When all was said and done, it was the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi and Felipe Albuquerque taking the overall victory, over the Whelen Cadillac by just over one minute. Third was the first of the LMP2 cars, the Core ORECA.

The Cadillacs ran up front for the entire 24 hours, and were always in the hunt for the win. In addition to the Core Autosport ORECA, which really had a chance to win had it not been delayed early in the race, the Penske Acuras were competitive as well and were on top of the leader board at different times throughout the race. Even fan favorite Fernando Alonso ran at the top of the charts for a while. Perhaps the biggest disappointment during the race was the performance of the Mazda Team Joest prototypes, which had a dismal race, with problems throughout and even a spectacular fire at one point.

Lessons learned, everyone in the prototype class will get their cars back in shape for the next round in the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the Mobil One 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

In GTLM, it was an all Ford GT show and they led most of the race, with the #67 entry of Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon taking the win over the #66 car and the #3 Corvette coming in third.

In the GTD class it was competitive all 24 hours with close racing and multiple lead changes, but in the end, it was the first endurance victory for Lamborghini as the GRT Grasser Race Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 took class honors over the Acura NSX GT3 of Michael Shank/Curb Agajanian Racing and third went to the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.

The weather was decent for the most part, except for an unexpected rain shower on Saturday evening. For once, the crews didn’t freeze in the pits during the long nighttime period as the temperatures stayed in the fifties.

Now it’s on to Sebring for another classic endurance contest.

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Jack Webster has been shooting motorsports since the early 1970’s, covering Formula One, CanAm, F5000, TransAm, GrandAm and American Le Mans races, among others. In addition to his photography, he has also worked on racing teams, both in IMSA and IndyCar, so has a complete knowledge of the inner workings of motorsport. Both his photography and writing can be seen here on racingnation.com. Eddie LePine has been involved in motorsports for over 30 years as photographer, columnist, and driver. Eddie also is now a retired racer (well, retired unless a good ride pops up). You can usually find Eddie in the paddock area, deep in conversation with a driver.