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Rolex Takes The Lead At Rolex 24 At Daytona

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With torrential downpours and wicked winds beating down at Daytona International Speedway during the second day of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, top drivers from around the world proved they could go the distance when it comes to endurance racing under extreme conditions. In fact, for several hours on Sunday morning, both red and yellow flags, and continuous wipeouts stymied drivers and left thousands of fans frustrated. In the end, the International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) called the race over just 10 minutes prior to the scheduled 24-hour checkered flag time. Still, the extreme weather conditions and track flooding didn’t dampen spirits, as the 50th season of the Rolex 24 at Daytona witnessed fantastic victories and the awarding of Rolex watches to the winners.

Fernando Alonso, two-time FIA Formula 1 Drivers’ World Champion, took his first overall win at an IMSA event. His victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona, which is the kick-off event of the IMSA season, took the lead in Turn 1 just minutes before the red flag that ended the race came into play. The two red flags that went up on Sunday morning, stopping the race once and then ultimately ending the race early, mark the first two red flags were waved in one race in the event’s history. Alonso drove the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPI-V.R racecar along with teammates Jordan Taylor, Kamui Kobayashi and Renger van Der Zande.

GTD Class Winner: #11 GRT Grasser Racing Team, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, GTD; Rolf Ineichen (CHE), Rik Breukers (NLD), Mirko Bortolotti (ITA), Christian Engelhart (DEU)

At the Gatorade Victory Lane on Sunday, in the pouring rain, Rolex USA CEO and President, Luca Bernasconi presented the coveted Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona to Alonso, his teammates and all of the driver winners in all categories. While the winning trophy is an honor, drivers swear that the most important thing about winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona is the Rolex watch. In fact, Scott Pruett, five-time overall winner of the Rolex 24 at Daytona (as well as a friend of the brand) and this year’s Grand Marshal of the event, solidified the fact that the watch carries significant appeal.

“When you consider all the time, effort and energy that goes into trying to win the Rolex 24, it is completely consuming, and a watch is a symbol of this commitment. If you win a trophy, it sits in your trophy case.” says Pruett. “However, when you win a Daytona, with ’Winner’ engraved on the back, there’s nothing more special. There’s no current driver or past driver who wouldn’t say the most memorable thing you can take away from this race is the watch.”

#8 Starworks Motorsport,Audi R8 LMS GT3, GTD; Parker Chase (USA), Ryan Dalziel (GBR), Ezequiel Perez Companc (ARG), Chris Haase (DEU) #25 BMW Team RLL, BMW M8 GTE, GTLM; Augusto Farfus (BRA), Connor De Phillippi (USA), Philipp Eng (AUT), Colton Herta (USA) #63 Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 488 GT3, GTD; Cooper MacNeil (USA), Toni Vilander (FIN), Dominik Farnbacher (DEU), Jeff Westphal (USA) #47 Precision Performance Motorsports (PPM), Lamborghini Huracan GT3, GTD; Steve Dunn (USA), Linus Lundqvist (SWE), Milos Pavlovic (CHE), Don Yount (USA)

Rolex’s affiliation with auto racing runs long and deep. As early as the 1930’s Rolex watches were seen on the wrists of drivers who identified the brand’s precision and exceptional excellence as akin to their sport. Sir Malcolm Campbell wore his Rolex when he set the fastest official time recorded at Daytona Beach in 1935 at the wheel of the famed Bluebird racing car. It wasn’t too long after that that Rolex rolled out the now famed and beloved Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona watch. By 1968, the brand had established itself as the watch for racecar drivers and even struck up a relationship with thus-far 50-year brand ambassador Sir Jackie Stewart. It was 27 years ago in 1992 that Rolex formally partnered with Daytona International Speedway as the Title Sponsor and Official Timepiece of the 24-hour endurance races known today as Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The fact that Rolex is all about precision and excellence makes it a great tie-in with auto racing, where precision and excellence also are the prevailing codes. Additionally, Rolex is a leader in utilizing high-tech materials and incredible in-house-made innovative engines for its watches.

Other winners of the event include the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, that took the GTLM win driven by Augusto Farfu, Connor De Phillippi, Philipp Eng and Colton Herta; and the No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 took the GTD Class victory for a second year in the row. That four-man team consisted of Christian Engelhart, Rolf Ineichen, Mirko Bortolotti and Rik Breukers. The final win for the LMP2 class was Sebastian Saavedra in the No.18 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2, co-driven by Roberto Gonzalez, Pedro Maldonado and Ryan Cullen. Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Dpi officially set the IMSA lap record around the 3.56-mile closed circuit that is Daytona International Speedway. The record time was 1:33.685 seconds. Unfortunately, the car was hit with a mechanical failure – ending its ability to finish the race.