Daniel Lloyd  |    |   0  |  28 January 2018

Albuquerque/Fittipaldi/Barbosa Cadillac wins Daytona 24 Hours

The Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi of Filipe Albuquerque, Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won the Daytona 24 Hours, as Ford claimed a dominant 1-2 in the GTLM category.

Albuquerque took the chequered flag one minute and 11 seconds ahead of Stuart Middleton in the sister #31 Action Express Cadillac, which also featured Mike Conway, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran.

The #5 Cadillac's total of 808 laps broke the previous Daytona 24 Hours distance record set in 1982 by John Paul Jr, John Paul Sr and Rolf Stommelen in a Porsche 935.

Completing the podium was the CORE Autosport ORECA-07 Gibson piloted by Romain Dumas, Loic Duval, Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, one and a half minutes down on the leader.

Two-time F1 champion Fernando Alonso finished 38th overall with United Autosports team-mates Lando Norris and Phil Hanson.

The trio's Ligier JSP217-Gibson led during some early pit stop cycles, but a spate of mechanical issues in the second half of the race forced them out of the main prototype pack.

Action Express established a clear lead when its primary challenge from the Penske-Acura DPis faded away during the early hours of Sunday morning.

Having spent the opening half of the race in and around the top five, the #6 Acura lost over 20 laps with an alternator issue in hour 14, before the #7 Acura was eliminated from contention following contact between Helio Castroneves and Nasr.

Action Express led the remaining eight hours virtually unopposed, although both the #5 and #31 Cadillacs struggled with overheating problems after sunrise that necessitated additional visits to the garage.

Nevertheless, the Dallara-based Cadillacs were a stronger match for the chasing LMP2 pack that picked up the pursuit after most of the other DPi manufacturers fell off the trail.

The Wayne Taylor Racing and Spirit of Daytona Cadillacs, which both featured in the top five early on,  retired due to repeated punctures and an engine misfire spectively.

Nissan exhibited good pace during the opening half, with Pipo Derani bringing the #22 ESM-run DPi into the top three, but an engine failure in the 14th hour consigned that car to retirement.

The #2 Nissan's race ended early with gearbox issues, while both Mazda DPis struggled to cope with a cacophony of problems including a dramatic turbo fire for the #55 and gearbox gremlins for the #77.

In GTLM, Ford recorded a one-two result having dominated the race with its pair of Ganassi-run cars.

The Fords led over 90% of the event, and spent much of their time in formation at the head of the field as the other manufacturers struggled to match the pace.

Ryan Briscoe finished 11 seconds up the road from Joey Hand to record the blue oval's second consecutive win at the Daytona 24.

Briscoe was joined by Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon in victory lane, while Hand shared the second podium spot with Dirk Mueller and Sebastien Bourdais.

Corvette finished third and fourth, albeit a lap adrift of the Fords, as the Risi Competizione Ferrari squad claimed fifth.

Having started brightly, even leading during a brief rain spell in hour six, Porsche lost ground during the night when its #911 car crashed into the barriers at the Bus Stop chicane. The marque's other 911 RSR was the best placed of the two entries in sixth.

Meanwhile, BMW's new M8 racer couldn't find the pace to keep with the rest of the GTLM field, with the highest-finishing car running 10 laps off the Fords at the finish.

GT Daytona honours went to the Grasser Racing Lamborghini squad, consisting of Mirko Bortolotti, Rolf Ineichen, Rik Breukers and Franck Perera.

Bortolotti's Huracan was under pressure from Jeroen Bleekemolen in the #33 Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the closing stages, but the reigning Blancpain GT champion broke free when Bleekemolen stretched his fuel too far and needed to come in for a late splash to reach the finish.

The Alvaro Parente/AJ Allmendinger/Katherine Legge/Trent Hindman Acura NSX-GT3 followed through in second, while the Paul Miller Racing squad completed the podium with its Bryan Sellers/Madison Snow/Bryce Miller/Andrea Caldarelli Lamborghini GT3.

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