Era Motorsport Reigns Victorious in Second Rolex 24 Win
- 29 January 2024
DAYTONA, FLORIDA (JAN. 29 2024) — After 24 grueling hours and 767 high-stakes laps, Era Motorsport has made history once again with their second Rolex 24 at Daytona win last weekend in Daytona, Florida.
IndyCar Driver Christian Rasmussen, NASCAR racing prodigy Connor Zilisch, and team stalwarts Ryan Dalziel and Dwight Merriman piloted the No. 18 Oreca 07 LMP2 car from 11th to first over the course of the race to win the team their second set of Rolexes to join the timepieces from 2021’s victory.
To accomplish this feat the sportscar-racing quartet took had to face the strongest field of LMP2 competitors they’ve seen in IMSA to date, including defending IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship winners PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, European heavy-hitters United Autosport, and 2023 Rolex 24 Runners-up Crowdstrike Racing.
Though slightly warmer than years past, the weather held out on Saturday for a nice and sunny race day where Merriman took the green flag to start the race.
Despite one minor incident in the first hour of the race, the Era Motorsport crew focused on keeping their nose clean and setting a consistent pace, which moved them all the way from 11th in class to fourth by the time the first quarter of the race was done.
Overnight and into the morning it was more of the same for the Era crew as Merriman, Rasmussen, Zilisch, and Dalziel pushed harder as time went on, finding themselves trading podium positions come sunrise.
With six hours remaining and the Era crew in second-place, the team tightened their belts and set their sights on the No. 04 Crowdstrike car that was in the lead.
The battle with the 04 continued right until the final hour of the race, where Rasmussen had powered his way into a commanding lead of 15 seconds, only for a caution a few minutes later to compress the field and create a tense battle in the closing half hour of the 62nd running of the iconic event which saw five P2s within 10 seconds of the lead.
With his sights set on a new watch, Rasmussen powered forward and put yet another gap between the competition and himself before taking the checkered flag for the win.
“I think each win gets a little more emotional,” said Dalziel of his third Rolex 24 win. “I think our disappointment in the last two seasons with Era, and especially 2023 was a rough year for us. We finished Petit and we were just thirsty to come back and perform this weekend.”
“You can’t afford to have mistakes at this level, of the 13 cars this year I’d say 10 of them were contenders from the green flag, but it narrowed down to a four car race at the end.”
“I think Christian was the man for the job there at the end, I don’t think you want anyone else other than him. He’s a beast in this car, and Connor, at 17-years-old you just can’t say enough about him.
“I was 17 coming into this weekend, but after all this stress I feel like I’m 35 now! I’m just so proud of the entire Era Motorsport team. They never gave up. Things weren’t always easy, but it’s a long race, and they knew that, and made sure I knew that because I’m a rookie at this stuff.”
“They were able to talk me out of stuff and talk me into things, and made me feel like I was supported and that I had a team behind me, and that’s important as a driver. It’s an honor to race with Era Motorsport, and I’m so glad we could get a Rolex today.’
“It’s been an amazing few weeks here at Daytona with Era Motorsport. The team has done such an amazing job all weekend getting the car in the window. We weren’t always the fastest car and we were really struggling during the ROAR, but hard work and determination from the team got the car in the window, and ultimately that’s what we needed to win the race.”
“We drove a good race, it was pretty problem free. We were on the lead lap for most of the race, and we had the pace to really make a push to the end.”
“Ryan and the guys were super helpful with testing and prepping the car and getting it ready to race. The team’s experience really showed over the past few weeks.
“Overall the guys at Era did a fantastic job with everything. We were up against a big field of really strong teams this year so I’m very thankful for all their work and glad to see it pay off.”
Kyle Tilley (Team Owner)
“A second Rolex 24 win!!!! I still can’t believe it. A massive thank you to not only our drivers but also the crew and background staff; every single person played an important part in this victory.”
“Dwight did his best run to date, handing the car over on the lead lap with his drive time done. Ryan was brilliant through the night to secure the lead, and then Connor and Christian were phenomenal.”
“I can’t accurately fit enough praise into one quote, just a weekend where every single person brought thier A game, and I can’t thank them enough. A very special result for sure.”