CrowdStrike Racing by APR is attempting to recover time lost during an unscheduled pit stop after the #04 ORECA 07 LMP2 was struck by debris, having been second in class (28-29 January).
Pre-season testing and the Roar Before the Rolex 24 ran faultlessly for CrowdStrike Racing, and the American-flagged team subsequently entered race week on a strong footing, featuring inside the top three during Practice 1 and 2, even though both sessions were heavily disrupted by red flags.
However, the squad shot to P1 on the LMP2 leaderboard while cycling through its drivers in night practice, and, as Ben Hanley’s best effort was bettered by ex-Formula 1 driver Esteban Gutierrez (1m38.663), it ended the evening second.
From the third row of the grid, CrowdStrike Racing by APR marched forward to P2 in class during the opening exchanges of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona on Saturday (28 January) afternoon.
The leading #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport machine initially pulled out an advantage as the #35 TDS Racing car emerged as a threat, snatching the runner-up spot moments before the first scheduled pit stops, when a mix of strategies were employed, the #04 receiving fuel and four new tyres.
Control of the CrowdStrike Racing prototype changed hands in the second bevy of LMP2 stops, Matthew McMurry stepping aboard and spending much of his stint trading places with both the #11 and #35 TDS entries, yoyoing between third and fifth before vacating the #04 just prior to the 100th lap.
CrowdStrike Racing conducted “cheap” stops during two Full Course Yellows (FCY), the second taking the team out of sequence with some class rivals and ensuring it headed LMP2 at the four-hour mark, on the approach to sunset.
However, the order constantly ebbed and flowed as teams deployed their Pro and Am drivers in different ways.
McMurry returned to the fray once day gave way to night and, although the American Pro circulated on the edge of the top six for the most part, he was quicker than those ahead of him and significantly reduced CrowdStrike Racing’s one-lap deficit to the frontrunners.
Hanley picked up the baton during the ninth hour and the Briton frequently matched his fellow professional drivers for pace to stay on the lead lap, and a timely FCY brought the #04 crew back into play on the approach to midnight.
The #55 Proton Competition entry was quickly dispatched at the resumption of racing, and Hanley then chased down and cleared the #35, but not before the class-topping #52 car had made good its escape by approximately seven seconds.
Nevertheless, CrowdStrike Racing was in P2 for the first time in nearly ten hours and there was nothing to choose between the leaders, the gap between first and second fluctuating lap-after-lap until the 14th round of stops when Gutierrez was plugged in to the #04 ORECA
Frustratingly, an unscheduled pit visit to take on a new nose section was required after debris struck the car and became lodged in its radiator duct, therefore CrowdStrike Racing is sixth and attempting to make up for lost time in the remaining 12 hours of the 2023 Rolex 24 at Daytona.
Matt McMurry (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “CrowdStrike Racing by APR had a good, steady first half of the 61st Rolex 24 at Daytona. The team ensured us drivers and the entire crew are perfectly prepared for the challenge with plenty of pre-season testing over the last few months and a comprehensive programme during the Roar Before the Rolex 24, and we’ve seen that pay off so far. Most importantly, we stayed out of trouble, but collecting debris and losing time in the pits just after midnight was unfortunate. Nevertheless, I think we can be in a good place to fight in the closing stages.”