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Challenging 24H Daytona showcases Ashton Harrison's fighting spirit

"It was definitely a challenge, and we did our best" - Ashton Harrison and her WTRAndretti teammates fought and overcame a series of hiccups during the Daytona 24 Hours, but never gave up and eventually crossed the finish line completing the race in the #45 DEX Imaging Lamborghini.

Ashton Harrison, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Lamborghini, Daytona 24 Hours, IMSA
Photo by: Frederick Hardy II

Ashton Harrison entered and finished her second Rolex Daytona 24 Hours, teaming up with Kyle Marcelli, Danny Formal and Graham Doyle behind the wheel of the #45 DEX Imaging Lamborghini Huracán GT3 EVO2 under the banner of Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti.

Harrison, a ProAm champion in GT World Challenge America and runner up in the Pro class of the SRO-promoted series last year, has contested her first part-time campaign in IMSA in 2023, when she shared the Racers Edge Motorsports' Acura NSX GT3 with long-time collaborator Mario Farnbacher. In a new car, Harrison was eyeing a strong result at Daytona, following a very positive ROAR Before the 24 last week.

The quartet went through preparation in the testing days and addressed a few new-car challenges, but the superb qualifying speed highlighted how the quartet had good chances to run among the class front runners. Marcelli had in fact put the #45 Lamborghini on the second row of the grid in fourth place among the GTD entries.

“The entire WTRAndretti team did an incredible job giving us a fast Lamborghini at the Roar and into Qualifying" - Harrison commented. "Really proud of the lap Kyle laid down to give us a great starting position for this ‘sprint’ race."

"Looking at the qualifying times just shows how competitive and strong this GTD class is and proves that every team has the capabilities to be up front", she added, highlighting how 2 tenths separated the top six. "I’m excited to be attempting my second Rolex with WTRAndretti and with the boys. We’ll give it our absolute best and be prepared for anything with the overall goal of winning a Daytona Rolex.”

Ashton Harrison, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Lamborghini, Daytona 24 Hours, IMSA
Photo by: Frederick Hardy II

Kyle Marcelli was in charge of the start for the Wayne Taylor Racing by Andretti Lamborghini - in the team's first effort at Daytona in the GTD class. Unfortunately, the car didn't quite show the same pace as in previous sessions and Marcelli struggled to keep up with the front of the field, dropping from fourth to P15 in the opening laps.

The first Full Course Yellow of the race was deployed on lap 14, and the neutralization bunched up the pack again. Having pitted under yellow, Kyle Marcelli remained behind the wheel. A new caution resulted in chaotic moments in the first hour and, unfortunately, Marcelli was handed a drive through penalty for a pass under yellow, which he served and rejoined in P20.

After a double stint, Marcelli pitted and handed over to Graham Doyle as the race entered its second hour. Danny Formal took over the #21 Lamborghini from P21 two hours later; he managed to catch and pass the MDK Motorsports Porsche of Larry Ten Voorde, continuing an overall solid progression, despite a second drive through had put the #45 Lamborghini a couple of laps down.

At the six hour mark, Danny Formal handed over to Ashton Harrison - now behind the wheel for the first time in the race. Ashton had a clean double-stint, driving smartly and consistently as a few cautions allowed them to gain back the lost laps. Eight hours in, Harrison pitted after an untroubled stint and Kyle Marcelli took over and moved up to P18; Doyle was next - and unfortunately a small contact forced the #45 DEX Imaging Lamborghini behind the wall to fix a suspension damage.

The WTRAndretti crew fixed the issue and Danny Formal re-emerged from behind the wall with 13 hours and 10 minutes to go, now 45 laps down. Their run lasted only a few laps, as the car was brought back behind the wall 15 minutes later for more repairs.

Ashton Harrison, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Lamborghini, Daytona 24 Hours, IMSA
Photo by: Frederick Hardy II

After another lengthy stop for technical issues, Ashton Harrison hit the track once again, 75 laps down but with the mission to cross the finish line and gain valuable data for the remainder of the season.

Harrison, Marcelli, Formal and Doyle alternated behind the wheel for the remaining hours and showcased exceptional resilience and fighting spirit; while out of contention for a notable result, the whole team fought through adversities and crossed the finish line in P17 in the GTD category.

“I can’t believe it’s actually over" - commented Harrison. "Now I am looking forward to some much-needed sleep. I’m super proud of everyone in the No 45 DEX Imaging Lamborghini GT3 Evo2 team. It’s been a long night with a lot of highs and lows."

"It was definitely a challenge, and we did our best", she continued. "When we had hiccups on the road we overcame them, and the crew worked so tirelessly. It’s been very rewarding and I hope the WTRAndretti crew know how much we appreciate the hard work that they put in getting this car ready for the race and also throughout all the hiccups we had in the middle of the race."

Despite the lap deficit, the drivers never stopped pushing to find more time and never gave up, in an overall learning-oriented experience for the team.

Harrison has previously hinted that the Daytona 24 Hours could be her only race of the season, and has yet to announce her next racing plans.

"I’m looking forward to what’s to come and I’m excited for Danny and Kyle for their full season effort, plus to see Graham continue to perform in these endurance rounds” - she said, as the rest of the crew gets ready for the 12 Hours of Sebring, on March 16th.

Ashton Harrison, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Lamborghini, Daytona 24 Hours, IMSA
Photo by: Frederick Hardy II



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