At 18 years and just a few days old, Devlin DeFrancesco proved that age is just a number last weekend at the 56th Rolex 24 held at Daytona International Speedway - finishing sixth alongside team-mates Simon Trummer, Robert Alon and Austin Cindric.
Boosted by a solid running at the ROAR earlier in the month, teammate Simon took the wheel for qualifying whilst the team waited with baited breath on the pit wall as the times rolled in end. After a nail biting session the team ended in twelfth less than a second away from pole.
The atmosphere at the historic Daytona International Speedway was electric when the cars lined up on the grid on race day, the crowds roared knowing they were in for a treat as the next 24 hours unfolded. Right in the thick of the action, the 85 Banana Boat was a sight to be seen as it climbed up the banking and dived through the bus-stop. As the clock hit 6pm it was time for Devlin to put everything learnt into action, psyching up to take over from teammate Robert Alon.
Taking to endurance racing like a duck to water and further proving his versatility as a driver, Devlin put in a run of consistent laps whilst hitting all of the objectives set to him by the team.
‘It’s very new to me, sportscar racing. From my side I’m happy we were quick and consistent. There’s a few things we’re going to change with the balance couple niggles with the Radio - Austin’s in now but I think we’re in for a good one’ the young rising star said leaving the car.
As darkness fell on the Florida circuit, drama continued as the field became plagued by punctures. Avoiding the tyre woes suffered by others, the affectionately dubbed banana boat continued to fight valiantly into the night, battling back from a small fuel pump and hydraulics issue.
Ready to burn the midnight oil, Devlin head out for a triple-stint. Undeterred by being the youngest on the field, Devlin proved his worth once again with a series of consistently fast laps bringing the car up to 11th by roughly the half way point. Continuing to rise through the scoring sheets as the night turned into day.
After a gruelling, but incredible 24 hours, the 85 Oreca fielded by the privateer team JDC Motorsports crossed the line 6th leading the sister car. With Devlin not only achieving the fastest average lap over 50 laps but also the overall fastest lap for the 85 team.
‘If someone told me I was going to finish P6 one week ago, I would have almost said they were crazy,’ Devlin commented, moments after the Oreca crossed the line. ‘The team did a mega job, my team-mates were fantastic. We had niggly issues here and there with fuel pump and hydraulics, we were a bit stressed and our hearts were in our mouths! We came through, we didn’t have any punctures, no blow-outs, no mistakes. It feels amazing to finish P6 in my first Daytona 24! Already looking forward to coming back next year and to see if we can get on the podium’
With yet more racing experience under his belt, Devlin looks ahead to kicking off his maiden FIA F3 European Championship campaign, which beings on 12-13th May in Pau, France.