Surviving the night key part of Rolex 24

January 27, 2018

Surviving the night key part of Rolex 24

January 27, 2018

One of the greatest challenges about the Rolex 24 at Daytona is that a majority of it takes place at night.

Compared to the 24 Hours of Le Mans, of which more than 16 hours takes place during daylight hours, Daytona offers less than 11 hours of daylight.

Naturally, this is due in large part to the time of year when the two classic endurance races take part. Daytona runs at the end of January, while Le Mans runs in the middle of June.

Add in the generally cold temperatures that make up the race at Daytona, the potential of rain at various stages, and you have all the ingredients for one of the more difficult events of the season.

That being said, while the night is long, the well-lit Daytona track offers drivers a clear look at nearly all the 3.56-mile circuit.

“The night lighting and headlights are way worse for glare at Le Mans than they are here,” says Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Richard Westbrook. “The only real bad spot is going into the Bus Stop.”

Ganassi’s managing director Mike Hull noted how Thursday night practice comprises only 90 minutes of the race weekend, even though there are more than 13 hours of darkness.

Polesitter Jan Magnussen, of Corvette Racing, explained how Corvette’s rear camera radar system assists here.

“In the daytime, the radar is pretty good, but at night, the mirrors don’t really do anything so that’s where it’s a massive advantage over what we had some years ago,” he says.

“Usually, the lights of the cars coming from behind just blind the mirrors or the camera just flares up so the screen is just white. You don’t know how close to you they are, you get a much better picture of what’s going on behind in those situations with the radar and it’s much easier to make the right decisions.”

You can’t win the race at night, but you can certainly lose it.

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