Ashton Harrison completes first 24H of Daytona in P6 after late drama
At her first participation in the iconic race, Ashton Harrison and Racers Edge Motorsports had a flawless run in the 24 Hours of Daytona and were in contention for a class podium until a few minutes to go, when a power steering issue dropped the Harrison Contracting Acura to sixth.
Ashton Harrison completed her first 24 Hours of Daytona with another impressive performance, fighting for a podium finish in one of the most competitive GTD fields ever. The 2022 GTWC America ProAm champion, only at her second IMSA race, executed flawless runs in the #93 Racers Edge Motorsport with WTR Acura NSX GT3 EVO22, which ran all race in the top five and then emerged as one of the strongest contenders in the chaotic final stages. A technical issue in the very final minutes took away their chances and Harrison – alongside her teammates Danny Formal, Kyle Marcelli and three-time Daytona winner Ryan Briscoe – were sixth across the finish line. While it was a heartbreaking finale, the whole team performance was nothing short of outstanding and Harrison herself proved she has what it takes to battle at the top end of what is possibly the most competitive sports car championship in the world today. The red-liveried Harrison Contracting Acura performed greatly in the week leading up to the race, starting the ROAR with a second place in FP1, and went on to set an eighth, fifth and seventh place before qualifying. Kyle Marcelli fought for GTD pole position and eventually secured a place on the second row of the grid in fourth – which became third when the Winward Mercedes was forced to start from the back of the field. "I think we’re in a great spot headed into the Rolex 24- for my first Rolex 24- and I’m just excited to be sharing the car with my teammates", said Harrison before the race. "We’ve had so much great prep work from the Racers Edge crew, and amazing support from Harrison Contracting and WTR Andretti. I think this sets the mood - everyone has a positive attitude, we’re excited, we feel like we’ve accomplished a lot at the ROAR." Kyle Marcelli was behind the wheel at the green flag and completed a double stint that also saw the #93 Harrison Contracting Acura briefly leading in class during the first pit stop stages, after the previously-leading #32 Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes went off and lost two positions. Ashton Harrison then took over and led in class, before settling in the top-ten with steady pace that allowed Danny Formal to keep ninth at the end of the fourth hour. Ryan Briscoe then made the most out of a FCY restart and moved up to fifth in GTD, having jumped ahead of several competitors after a pit stop. As we entered the eighth hour, the #75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes slowed down and dropped down the order – promoting Ryan Briscoe to second. Having gone off-sequence to the top three, the Racers Edge Motorsport with WTR machine was back on top of the leaderboard during a lengthy caution in the ninth hour of racing, when a displaced tyre barrier at turn 6 required the fifth neutralization. Briscoe had just pitted and handed over to Kyle Marcelli, who kept the lead until the next pit stop. With 14 hours to go, another FCY was deployed and Marcelli took the chance to pit and Ashton Harrison was back in, again leading a few laps before holding seventh in class. In the eleventh hour, Marcelli lost the hood but continued. With Harrison back behind the wheel, a lengthy full course yellow gave the team the opportunity to fit a new hood without losing track position, in seventh. Harrison had gained sixth place just before Ryan Briscoe jumped back in the car. The three-time Daytona winner would grab fourth in the following hours. With eight hours to go, the Harrison Contracting-sponsored Acura safely sat fourth in class. Ashton Harrison, Kyle Marcelli, Danny Formal and Ryan Briscoe all logged great lap times as they attempted to chase a potential podium finish. Unfortunately, during the 21st pit stop, the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports Acura received a drive through penalty for having too many crew members over the wall. The penalty dropped Marcelli from fourth to fifth in class. The position was soon gained back when the #32 Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes – one of the early front runners and protagonists of the GTD class – hit trouble and lost several laps behind the wall. A 6-hour-long green flag period meant that Racers Edge Motorsports with WRT had to perform a brake change at the first available caution. The amazing work by the team's crew allowed Briscoe to stay in the fight once the other GTD also pitted. The hectic and incident-filled final two hours meant that the #93 Harrison Contracting Acura had gained back the lead lap, in the hands of Kyle Marcelli. Everything was still to play for, with a realistic chance for a podium. At the penultimate restart, Marcelli slipped to sixth and struggled for pace - but then found plenty of pace at the following restart: he overtook the Vasser Sullivan Lexus and the sister Acura, then hunted down the Inception McLaren for third. In another unfortunate turn of events, the #93 Acura slowed down and pitted with a few minutes to go: "My steering just locked out coming out of Turn 5. I lost all power steering and totally deflated our efforts. We definitely had a shot at a podium." – explained Marcelli. The outstanding team effort and hugely impressive performance by all drivers, though, resulted in a positive sixth place finish that brings plenty of optimism for the rest of the Michelin Endurance Cup campaign. “I’m pretty bummed with the finish, but I’m so thrilled and excited for Racers Edge Motorsports for all the hard work they put in and thankful for Harrison Contracting Company for supporting this effort." – said Ashton Harrison after her first Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. "Wayne Taylor and Travis Houge put in so much work trying to help us get this program off the ground. When the announcement came out with WTRAndretti, it made the program that much better. I’m so thankful and I can’t wait to get back to Sebring. I hope that we win. It was fun dicing it up with the other NSX, but next time I hope that it is for a podium or a win.” Ashton Harrison will return behind the wheel of the #93 Harrison Contracting Company NSX GT3 EVO22 for the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring at Sebring International Raceway on March 18th, 2023.