01 Jarvis, Nunez, Bernhard & Rast (Car 77)
02 Castroneves, Rossil, Taylor (Car 7)
08 DeFrancesco, Vautier, Barrichello & Goikhberg (Car 85)
01 Kobayashi, Van Der Zande, Taylor & Alonso (Car 10)
02 Nasr, Curran, & Derani (Car 31)
05 DeFrancesco, Vautier, Barrichello & Goikhberg (Car 85)
The Daytona 24 may have been something of a wash-out this year, but Devlin DeFrancesco and his team-mates were very much able to keep themselves afloat The JDC-Miller Motorsports DPi Cadillac prototype dubbed as the ‘banana boat’ may have had the most fitting name as rain stopped and started the endurance race with all four drivers battling against the tricky adverse conditions.
Qualifying for the race took place on a substantially drier Friday, and it was Devlin’s team-mate, Tristan Vautier, who was charged with giving the team the best starting position possible for when the lights went out on Saturday evening. After several strong laps the 85 ended in P7, firmly in contention for the top honours in the main event. Devlin, the youngest prototype driver at the event, got his first taste of the car since the ROAR earlier in the month as he completed several strong night laps during the evening practice session.
Being one of the biggest and most popular races in the world, Daytona is never short of fans or atmosphere, and there was a palpable sense of excitement building as the race drew ever closer. The rolling start ensured that it was a clean getaway for all involved, with the action starting immediately as the two JDC-Miller Motorsports cars jostled for position on lap one. Ultimately as the race progressed, it would be Devlin and his team-mates who would win this particular battle.
Devlin may have only been competing in his second twenty-four-hour race, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell. As he and his team-mates made driver swaps throughout the evening and night, he adapted seamlessly to his challenge, looking like he had far more experience than his 19 years would allow. With thorough battling and events unfolding ahead of them, the home hero and his colleagues quietly and carefully climbed the order, moving up to sixth, and then eventually into fifth. Being part of the premier class at the race, that meant that not only were they fifth of the DPis, but of the entire race.
Of course, it wouldn’t be an endurance race without some drama – and that drama came in the form of the rain. It wasn’t just a short shower either, it was a race delaying, chaos causing deluge that halted proceedings twice officially with red flags and made driving a near thankless task, with all drivers having to contend with these atrocious conditions. Devlin was given the final stint in the #85 car – a testament to how much faith the team had in his abilities – however saw most of his run red flagged as the conditions worsened. With the weather showing no signs of improvement the race was considered run with 10 minutes still on the clock. However this did not dampen the teams spirits, ending a superb fifth place overall navigating the downpours unscathed which was no mean feat!
While the race may have been heavily impacted by factors outside of the driver’s control, it did pose an opportunity for Devlin to show his professionalism and adaptability – maintaining his position and pace with his far more experienced team-mates whilst consistently producing fast and clean laps.
‘A really strong finish, P5 is an improvement from last year. It was the team’s first weekend with Cadillac and they took to the challenge really well, proud of all of them,’ he commented.
‘I was happy I was able to survive through the monsoon! I think the average stint pace was very good.’ Devlin reflected.
Attention will now return to the remainder of 2019 as the Canadian-Italian looks to build on the stellar progress made last year and continue his impressive form shown so far.
‘Everything just seems to be going up and up really and I just can’t wait to get on with my plans for 2019, I think it’s going to be a great year.’