Daytona 24 Hours overshadowed by possum death in crazy accident as Chip Ganassi Racing celebrate a sixth victory

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The Independent Online

There was reason for Chip Ganassi to celebrate for a sixth time at Daytona International Speedway as his No 02 Target/Ford EcoBoost Riley DP took the spoils in the Daytona 24 Hours. Scott Dixon took the chequered flag on Sunday afternoon as his team-mates Tony Kanaan, Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray celebrated with the team in pit-lane.

A thrilling finish saw Dixon take the lead from Jordan Taylor in the No 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP at the penultimate round of pit-stops, but he was unable to pull away and two ran nose-to-tail until the end of the race. However, a late caution offered Taylor a last chance, but he was forced to pit to hand over to his brother Ricky with the four-hour stint limit approaching.

That allowed the Action Express Racing team - last year's winners - of Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi, Sebastian Bourdais and Burt Frisselle to take up the challenge, but despite fighting from three laps down, they fell narrowly short as Dixon held on to win by 1.3 seconds.

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The race-winning No 2 Chevrolet Corvette DP of Team Chip Ganassi Racing

However, the race was somewhat marred when a possum was hit, killed and found hours later in the boot of one of the 911 Porsche’s running in GT class.

The No 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Andy Lally, John Potter, Marco Seefried and Martin Ragginger was brought to light when Lally brought the car to the pits early Saturday morning with an oil leak.

But upon closer inspection, the team found the dead possum in the boot of the Porsche. Lally felt a bump around 5am that caused significant damage to the car, but the team did not realise that the possum, posthumously named “ballast”, had torn through the bodywork and into the 911.

Incredibly, the team were able to repair the damage, and returned to finish the race 124 laps down, using the hash-tag "#AvengeBallast" to pay their respects to the downed possum.

*Warning - the photo below contains graphic material*

 

Lally, an animal rights activist and vegan, said shortly after the accident before returning to the race: “It came through the front end of my car, through the tub, ripped through the rivets and ended up in the trunk,” Lally said.

“What a weird way to end the race,” Lally added after failing to finish the race for the first time in 15 years. “I guess it’s ironic that it happened to me. Sad day for the possum, sad day for Magnus Racing.”

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The start of the Daytona 24 Hours

In the Prototype Challenge class, the No 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Mike Guasch, Tom Kimber-Smith, David Cheng and Andy Novich took victory after finishing in ninth position, 26 laps off the lead.

The GT Le Mans class saw a thrilling battle go down to the wire, but Corvette Racing took the spoils as the No 3 of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Ryan Briscoe held of the challenge of the No 56 BMW Team RLL of Bruno Spengler, Bill Auberlen, Augusto Farfus and Dirk Werner to finish fifth overall and claim the spoils in the class.

The No 33 Riley Motorsports SRT Viper GT3-R claimed victory in the GT Daytona class, with Ben Keating, Kuno Wittmer, Dominik Farnbacher, Al Carter and Cameron Lawrence finishing in 13th overall.

MONTE CARLO MASTER OGIER TRIUMPHS AGAIN

Sebastian Ogier led a Volkswagen one-two-three home as he clinched his second consecutive Monte Carlo rally title on Sunday to get his 2015 World Rally Champions campaign off to the perfect start.

Ogier began the rally locked in an enticing battle with returning nine-time champion and rally legend Sebastian Loeb, but when the Citroen driver hit a wall on Friday, Ogier was able to cruise through the weekend without trouble.

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Sebastian Ogier celebrates victory at the Monte Carlo rally

Two-time rally champion Ogier finished ahead of his team-mates Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen, although Latvala was able to take the plaudits in the powerstage as he recorded the third-fastest time, one place ahead of Ogier.

Loeb would recover to finish eighth, two places ahead of his Citroen team-mate and British hope Kris Meeke.

NASCAR LEGEND GORDON SET FOR 2015 SWANSONG

Four-time Nascar champion Jeff Gordon has announced that he will retire from full-time competition at the end of this season after a 23-year career spent entirely with Hendrick Motorsport. While making the announcement to his team on Thursday morning, his decision to retire from full-time racing leaves the door open to a part-time role beyond the end of 2015.

Despite his last successful championship tilt coming in 2001 (his previous triumphs were in 1995, 1997 and 1998) Gordon has won a race in every season bar 2010, and was Hendrick’s front-runner for the majority of last season before falling away in The Chase as Kevin Harvick took the spoils.

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Jeff Gordon will retire from full-time racing at the end of the year

The new season gets underway on 14 February with the unofficial Sprint Unlimited, with the two Budweiser Duels pencilled in five days later before the curtain-raising Daytona 500 takes place on 22 February.

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