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Acura secures historic one-two in first race of LMDh era

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On Saturday 28 January, a 61-car grid hit the track at the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona watched on by a record crowd, marking the launch of the new LMDh age. ORECA participated as constructor of the 10 LMP2 ORECA 07s in the field and as partner of both Acura ARX-06s.

At the end of a hard-fought race and a breathtaking showdown between the two Acura ARX-06s in the final hour, the #60 of 2022 winner Meyer Shank Racing driven by Tom Blomqvist, Colin Braun, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud claimed the top step on the first podium of the GTP era. The car finished 4.19 seconds ahead of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s #10 shared by Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Louis Delétraz and Brendon Hartley. Despite trailing by as many as three laps overnight, last year’s vice-champion fought its way back to the head of the GTP field in the last hour, giving Acura a stunning one-two for the constructor’s third consecutive win at Daytona.

Thanks to these outstanding performances for their first official outings in competition, the two Acuras based on the new ORECA LMDh chassis have decisively demonstrated their reliability and made history in the GTP reign.

The action proved equally intense in the LMP2 class. Though the ORECA 07s entered by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, TDS Racing, AF Corse and Crowdstrike Racing by APR long dominated the classification, Team Proton Competition triumphed after an incredible photo finish at the chequered flag for its rookie LMP2 participation. James Allen snatched the class win for the German team just 0.016 seconds ahead of the Crowdstrike car. AF Corse’s #88 ORECA 07 rounded out the podium on the heels of a flawless race.

Though initially favoured to win the class, TDS Racing’s #35 had to settle for fourth place after a spin just 20 minutes from the finish.

Despite experiencing electronic problems from the start, Tower Motorsport’s #8 made up 11 laps over the 24 hours to finish fifth, only two laps behind the class winners.

The pole-sitter, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports team’s #51 ORECA 07 saw its hopes for victory slip away just 90 minutes from the finish. While in fourth position, French driver Nicolas Lapierre was unable to restart his car after a spin, but still managed to end the race in sixth place ahead of Rick Ware Racing’s #55.

Three retirements were recorded: TDS Racing’s #11 ORECA 07 after going off track, High Class Racing’s #20 for the same reason four hours from the chequered flag and Era Motorsport with engine failure just before sunrise.

ORECA Group President, Hugues de Chaunac: The level of this first confrontation ushering in the GTP era was remarkably elevated thanks to the participation of Porsche, BMW and Cadillac. It was a highly anticipated race by all accounts and obviously we are very proud to see the two Acura ARX-06s triumph. After MSR’s pole and WTR’s third spot at the Roar, we were keen to do well, but the battle against the three other manufacturers was tough! Performance level was there, but reliability was still a question mark. The two cars executed an impeccable race culminating in this one-two. Bravo to both teams and their drivers, to our collaborators who’ve worked so hard for six months to reach this fantastic end result. It’s a wonderful reward and a source of great pride for Acura, HPD and ORECA!”

Super Sebring weekend starting on 17 March will include the 1000 Miles de Sebring, kickoff of the 2023 FIA World Endurance Championship, and the 12 Hours of Sebring, second round of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.