In what is already being considered one of the greatest all-time battles in sportscar racing, Pfaff Motorsports captured the inaugural IMSA GTD Pro class victory in the 60th running of the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona on the final lap.
Porsche factory drivers Mathieu Jaminet (FRA), Matt Campbell (AUS) and two-time IMSA prototype champion and former F1 driver Felipe Nasr (BRA) banded together for their first event with the Canadian-based squad following a successful preseason test last week at the 5.73-km (3.56 mi) Florida circuit, where the team qualified second in its plaid-livery Motul Porsche 911 GT3 R ahead of the 2022 season-opener.
Entering the calendar’s longest and most grueling race, wet weather during Thursday and Friday practice sessions meant less track time before Saturday’s race start, where dry track conditions combined with unseasonably cold temperatures throughout the 24 hours.
From the wave of the green flag, Pfaff challenged for the lead, taking the top spot on lap nine and staying within the top two positions for the next 120 laps. From there, the team and drivers were methodical in their execution, keeping within the top four positions and performing flawlessly in the pits, while a stream of 17 full-course yellow flags kept the field together throughout the race.
Making a push in the final quarter of the race, Campbell began to chip away at the leading KCMG Porsche, swapping to the top spot before handing the car to Jaminet for the final stint – and a tumultuous two-hour battle with former Pfaff driver and 2021 GTD champion Laurens Vanthoor.
Under green flag conditions, Jaminet and Vanthoor fought head-to-head in the final hour, in what would become one of the Daytona 24’s most exciting finishes.
With just four minutes remaining, Vanthoor retook the lead, defending Jaminet with every available resource; the two drivers pushed each other to the track limits and sometimes beyond, battering their 911 GT3 Rs in a fierce dogfight.
Coming down to the final lap, Jaminet made a calculated dive on the inside of the international horseshoe corner and held steady entering into the NASCAR superspeedway. Making a last-ditch effort with just six corners remaining, Vanthoor pulled alongside Jaminet on the outside of the Le Mans chicane, where the two bumped and went off track. Jaminet held steady as Vanthoor spun, giving the French driver clear air to cross the finish line and capture the team’s first win at the Daytona 24 Hours – in Pfaff’s third full season in IMSA WeatherTech competition
Pfaff Motorsports now returns to its headquarters in Toronto, Canada in preparation for round two and the series’ second-longest event, the 12 Hours of Sebring, happening March 16-19.
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