01/03/2024

(L-R) Josef Newgarden, Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, and Matt Campbell celebrate victory at Daytona. Photo: Porsche AG

Australian Matt Campbell and his team have taken victory at the prestigious Daytona 24 Hour.

After a lengthy battle only resolved in the closing stages of the race, the Penske-prepared #7 Porsche edged out the #31 Whelen Cadillac by just 2.1 seconds.

The winning four-man team included Campbell, ex-F1 driver Felipe Nasr, reigning Indianapolis 500 champion Josef Newgarden, and two-time IMSA Sportscar champion Dane Cameron.

Campbell grabbed the lead as the sun rose with six hours to go, passing the #31 Cadillac of Tom Blomqvist, Pipo Derani and Jack Aitken.

Nasr and Blomqvist took over driving duties for the final stint for their respective teams, and with an hour and 18 minutes left, Blomqvist took back the lead into the first corner.

It looked as though Blomqvist would take his third consecutive Daytona victory, until a full course caution in the final hour eliminated the Briton’s advantage.

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The Porsche jumped the Cadillac on pit road, and when the race restarted with just over half an hour left, the two cars were locked in a tense battle to the flag.

Ultimately, Nasr had the benefit of track position and the rub of the green when it came to traffic, and Porsche clinched their first Daytona win in 21 years and Penske’s first in 55 years.

“The team as a whole was simply perfect,” Campbell said.

“We had an absolutely crazy battle with the Cadillac. It was back and forth over the entire distance. It was intense, exciting and exhausting.

“Now, it’s time to celebrate our success.”

Having hailed from Warwick in Queensland, Campbell got the attention of the German marque when he won the Porsche Carrera Cup Australia series in 2016. He made the move overseas and has been a Porsche factory driver since 2018.

This was Campbell’s first race with the Hypercar squad, and he’ll race in the top class at the Le Mans 24 Hour in June.

The #31 Cadillac was second, and Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta and Jenson Button’s #40 Acura was third.

The #18 Era Motorsport car took out the LMP2 class while Risi Competizione won the very competitive GTD Pro class with their #62 Ferrari.

Australians were well represented across the 59-car field. Tasmanian Josh Burdon was third in the LMP2 class with the #74 Riley team.

West Australian James Allen’s #81 Dragonspeed LMP2 was seventh in class while Matthew Brabham, grandson of Jack, led the #99 AO Racing LMP2 team to eighth.

Three-time Supercars champion Scott McLaughlin finished fifth in the same class, driving the #13 Tower Motorsports LMP2.

In the GTD Pro category, Kenny Habul’s #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes failed to finish, retiring after six hours with a mechanical issue. The 50-year old from Sydney will be hoping for better luck when he goes for a third straight win at Mount Panorama next month.

The IMSA series goes to its other Floridian crown jewel event at Sebring on March 13-16 (local time), but much of the GT racing fraternity will now turn their eyes to the Bathurst 12 Hour on 16-18 February.

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