DAYTONA BEACH, FLA.—With just one race on the books, it’s probably too soon to declare this the dawn of a new golden era in racing, but that thought was on many minds at last weekend’s spectator-packed Rolex 24 at Daytona. The grueling 24-hour race is the season-opening event for the WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, and 2023 saw the introduction of a new class of hybrid prototype race cars called GTP (for Grand Touring Prototype).
The crowds were heavier than ever, buoyed by the debut of the new machines, which put on a good show. And the complicated new energy-based pit stop formula didn’t appear to present anyone any trouble.
The same can’t be said for the race itself. Twenty-four-hour racing is hard—I speak from some experience—and making it to the end should be, and is, a challenge. A 24-hour race as the first race of the year for all-new cars is even more difficult, despite the thousands of miles each car covered in testing over the past few months. As such, some feared we might be in for a repeat of 2003; that year saw a new prototype class introduced, the best of which finished 24 laps behind the winning car, a racing version of a Porsche 911.
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