Pictures: HSR/Patrick Tremblay
A pair of competitive B.R.M. Chronographes Enduro Challenge races Friday at Daytona International Speedway set the tone for this weekend's HSR Classic Daytona presented by IMSA, the classic 24-hour race that will be run at the "World Center of Racing" for the fourth time Saturday and Sunday. Friday morning featured the B.R.M. Chronographes Historic/Prototype/GTM Enduro Challenge while the B.R.M. Chronographes Vintage/GTC Enduro Challenge was held later this afternoon.
Combined, the twin one-hour races produced fantastic competition and six different winning drivers, including a first-time B.R.M. Chronographes Enduro Challenge overall winner and another victorious driver who hit the top step of victory lane in his first race after retiring from an accomplished professional career.
Coached by two-time and reigning IMSA WeatherTech Prototype Champion Eric Curran, William Hubbell solo drove his No. 230 2009 Corvette Daytona Prototype to his first B.R.M. Enduro overall and Prototype class victory. Hubbell was joined on the overall and Prototype podium by runner-up Keith Frieser in his No. 1 2009 Oreca FLM09 Prototype Challenge "PC" car. Third went to Hubbell's Hudson Historics teammate John Reisman in his No. 33 2009 Corvette Daytona Prototype.
The B.R.M. Historic class win went to Martin Brauns and longtime professional driver Johannes van Overbeek, who ironically celebrated his recent retirement with a victory in his first race since hanging up the helmet after last month's Petit Le Mans.
"Martin Brauns was kind enough to have me out in the JWE Motorsports supported 911, we are in Group F, and our main priority is the Classic 24-Hour Saturday and Sunday," van Overbeek said. "It's good fun to come out, help Martin, see old friends and drive a track I have lots of laps at. This is a great event to step into and it only made it sweeter to win today with Martin."
Van Overbeek has raced historic cars with Brauns for the last 10 years, but the co-drivers earned their first Daytona victory together Friday in the No. 01 1975 Porsche 911 RSR.
"I was here last year, we did OK with a podium, but this is my first win in my second event here," Brauns said. "We come all the way across the country to do it and have three cars here this year. So far, so good, we are having a great time, and this is going to be one of the cornerstones of my racing season from here on out. We love coming here and just don't have high banking like this back in California. We are having a blast."
Second place in B.R.M. Historic went to Zotz Racing teammates Thomas Kirk and Ron Zitza in the No. 114 1995 Porsche 993 RSR. The final podium spot in the Historic class was earned by Mike Gaulke and Thomas Merrill who took third in their JWE Motorsports No. 90 1974 Porsche 911.
The top three finishers in the GT Modern (GTM) class crossed the finish line just behind the Prototype top-three and in overall positions four through sixth. The GTM-class win went to the No. 496 2009 Porsche 997 GT3 Cup of Les Long who shared the podium with the similar No. 51 2012 Porsche GT3 Cup model of Cyril Pernod. The Porsche duo was split on the GTM podium by the second-place No. 14 2000 Panoz GTS driven by Phil Lasco.
Friday afternoon's B.R.M. Vintage/GTC Enduro was won overall by Frank Beck who also took the GT Classic (GTC) class victory in his Beck's European No. 59 1972 Porsche 914/6. Second in GTC went to the JWE Motorsports No. 92 1978 Porsche 911SC of David Agretelis while Aaron Nash spoiled the all-Porsche sweep with a third-place class finish in his Crucial Motorsports No. 83 1997 BMW M3.
The Vintage class victory was claimed by Robert Albino who went two-for-two this weekend in HSR feature race wins in his Hudson Historics No. 991 1999 BMW Z3 Coupe. Albino also drove the BMW to an International class win in Thursday's Sasco Sports International/American Challenge race. The Vintage podium was completed by Heritage Motorsports co-drivers Russell Gee and David Hinton in the No. 41 1973 Porsche 911S in second and the third-place No. 41 1986 Porsche 944 of Guy Laporte and Marie-France Gagne.
Saturday's HSR Classic Daytona race day begins with an official HSR Autograph Session at 10 a.m. EST in the Daytona International Speedway FanZone. Drivers scheduled to participate include Curran, Hubbell and Reisman as well as Andy Wallace, Doug Smith, James Gue, Tommy Dreelan, Aaron Scott and many more.
The HSR Classic Daytona debuted in 2014 as a tribute race to the internationally famous Rolex 24 At Daytona. The immediate success of the inaugural event called for a second running in 2015 and, after a year off, the Classic Daytona returned last year as annual fixture on the HSR calendar.
The HSR Classic Daytona features six period-correct run groups of race cars rotating through a full 24 hours of racing. The run groups, which include various classes of similar-era race cars, each take to the track four times throughout the 24 hours. The competitors in each group covering the most total distance in the shortest amount of time in their group's four sessions will be crowned Classic Daytona presented by IMSA champions.
The green flag for the fourth-running of the HSR Classic Daytona 24-hour race is scheduled to flay 1 p.m. EST tomorrow, Saturday, November 10, with the race running straight through to the checkered flag at 1 p.m. EST on Sunday, November 11.