The race would sport a new name in 1992, and it was now called the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. The teams had hard times, as it was just after the Gulf crisis, and the rising costs of racing had driven many independant teams out of racing. IMSA racing was experiencing major changes in its operating system : it would eventually lead the series to terminate its GTP Championship at the end of the next season. The big teams were still present, but even those powerful entities had trouble getting funded. So it was a very scant 49car field which showed up for the green. A host of factory backed cars would compensate for the lack of quantity, and five Nissans were entered for the first time. Don Devendorf's NPTI had a trio of Nissan R90Cs, which were group C cars which were modified to accomodate the IMSA GTP Championship. Geoff Brabham was partnered by Chip Robinson, Arie Luyendijk and Bob Earl on the lead car, while Derek Daly, Steve Millen and Gary Brabham drove the sister car. For the first time in its history, IMSA had allowed Group C cars to enter an international event in the US. NISMO was here for the first time with a host of talented Japanese drivers, who were Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki. Nova Engineering, which was another Japanese entry, fielded a quite similar car for Mauro Martini, Volker Weidler and Jeff Krosnoff. They were joined in this class by Yves Courage C28 car, driven by Pascal Fabre, Lionel Robert and Bob Wollek. It was the second race ever run in the US for the French team. The Group C cars were uneligible for the Camel GT points, but they could earn the race prize money. Jaguar had two cars, which were different ones. An all new XJR16 was entered alongside the race proven XJR12. Davy Jones, Scott Pruett, Scott Goodyear and David Brabham were the Tom Walkinshaw lineup for the two cars, but the brand new car would be withdrawn from the race, which meant that the four of them would be commited to drive the XJR12! Toyota was present with two Eagle MK3 cars, which were blindingly fast. Juan Fangio II teamed up with Andy Wallace and Kenny Acheson on the #99, and PJ Jones was partnered by Mark Dismore and Rocky Moran on the #98. Porsche had only three cars, but tehy were three good ones, indeed. Joest Racing, always impressive, fielded a 962C driven by Bernd Schneider, John Winter, Massimo Sigala and Oscar Larrauri. Vern Schuppan had a 0123 sponsored car driven by Hurley Haywood, Eje Elgh, Roland Ratzenberger and Scott Brayton and Gianpiero Moretti fielded a 962C for himself, Hans Stuck, Frank Jelinski and Henri Pescarolo. The last contender for the win was the Tom Milner entered Spice SE90P Chevrolet driven by Wayne Taylor, Jeff Purner and Hugh Fuller. The Lights class entry was led by Don Erb entered Comptech Spice SE91P Acuras, which dominated the 1991 season. The cars were driven by Kazuo Shimizu, Ruggero Melgrati, Bob Lesnett and Costas Los for the first one, and Parker Johnstone, Steve Cameron, Jimmy Vasser and Dan Marvin. Their closest opponent would be the Kudzu DG3 Buick powered. According to Andy Evans, the engine showed a lot of promise, so everything could be expected from them. Firmin Velez, Dominic Dobson, Lon Bender and Andy Evans drove the car. Another Kudzu DG3, Mazda powered, was entered by Erie Scientific, for Howard Katz, John Grooms, Frank Jellinek and Jim Downing, who did not enter any car for the first time. Essex Racing had another Kudzu DG3 Buick driven by Charles Morgan, Jim Pace and Ken Knott. A Tiga Buick was to be seen, and it was entered by MAB Racing. Ron Zitza, Mel Butt and Tommy Johnson drove the car. Johnny Unser drove an Alba AR2 Ford entered by Bieri Racing, and sposored by Molson Take Care. The team also entered a Tiga, which was Ferrari powered. Uli Bieri drove it, along with Vito Scavone, Heinz Wirth and Andrew Hepworth. The cars were getting outdated, but they remained optimistic. Carlos Bobeda and Ken Parschauer drove a Buick powered Spice.
The GTS class would bring some excitement tk the race, as Roush Racing appeared to be seriously challenged by a pair of wild looking Oldsmobile Cutlasses, entered by Rocketsports, and the two CCR Nissan 300ZXs. This big battle promised a lot, in fact, it would prove very destructive. Dorsey Schroeder, Wally Dallenbach and Robby Gordon were at the wheel of the #15 Mustang, while Mark Martin, Jim Stevens, Robbie Buhl and Calvin Fish drove #11. Jack Baldwin and Irv Hoerr drove the #41 Oldsmobile Cutlass, which was powered by a GTP style, fuel injected 6,5L engine. The second car, which was powered by a more quiet 6,0L engine, was driven by Jeff Kline, George Robjnson, Darin Brassfield and team owner Paul Gentilozzi.
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The next big entry on this class was Nissan, which came for the first time at Daytona. A new transaxle car was entered, driven by Jeremy Dale, John Morton and Johnny O'connell. The car would qualify on the pole, with the other one not far away, but sporting an old chassis. The remainder of the pack was kind of classical, with a privateer Oldsmobile Cutlass, entered by Dale Kreider, which he drove with John Duke, Jon Gooding and Bill Adams. A bunch of less competitive Chevrolet Camaros, that could not keep the pace, also made for the field. The sad story from this class was that no Chevrolet Corvette was entered in this race for the first time since 1975!
The GTU class, which was the kingdom of Mazda, would bring hopes in the ranks of Nissan, too. Leitzinger Racing had a pair of good looking and well running 240SX. They were determined to do well, and had what it took to accomplish such a feat. Chuck Kurtz, Bob and Butch Leitzinger and David Loring on one car, Don Knowles, David Loring, Chuck Kurtz and Dan Robson on the other one. Reed Kryder, another Nissan long-time loyalist, entered his blue and yellow 240SX, which he drove with Frank del Vecchio, Joe Danaher, Mark Kent and Bill Sargis. Mazda was now represented ot only by its faithful RX7s, but its all new MX6s. Only two RX7s were entered, which was the lowest figure ever! Dick Greer fielded his old RX7 for himself, Al Bacon, Mike Mees and Peter Uria. Brad Hoyt, Andy Pilgrim and John Petrick drove the North Coast Racing car. Three MX6s were to be seen, with Eduardo Dibos, Juan Dibos and Raul Orlandini driving the Team Peru car. Another south American entry was the Botero Racing car, from Columbia. Rob Wilson, Lucio Bernal, Felipe Solano and Miguel Morejon drove this car while the Mahre bros had a beautiful car of their own. Henry Camferdam, Phil Krueger and Gary Drummond drove the Support Net car. A single, but competitive Dodge Daytona, was entered by Full Time Racing, and driven by John Fergus, Bobby Akin and Neil Hanneman. The Oldsmobile Achieva was a brand new car, whjch was driven by Scott Hoerr, Amos Johnson and Dennis Shaw. Four Porsche 911s were entered, still perpetuating the tradition of GT Porsche in enduros. Alex Job ntered a slant nose car, driven by Joe Pezza, Jack Refenning, Alex Padilla and John Sheldon, as well as Sam Shalala, who drove the Pro-Technik car and Jay Kjoller, who was partnered by Steve Volk and Robin Boone . Jack Lewis, Taylor Robertson and Bill Ferran drove a more trditinal car, which closed the entry list.
The practice sessions acknowledged the fact that the Eagle Toyota MKIII were still the fastest cars entered.
Juan Fangio II blasted the previous mark with a shattering 1m35s860,
The Jaguar XJR16, driven by Davy Jones, proved it could be a valuable contender with 1m36s266, but the car was withdrawn from the race, when it was struck by engine problems which could not be fixed. The TWR team had opted to switch for the XJR12D instead. Masahiro Hasemi was third on the Nissan R91CP, followed by Hans Stuck, Massimo Sigala, Volker Weidler and PJ Jones, in the second Toyota. The two NPTI Nissan R90Cs, entered in GTP, were experiencing fuel cell problems. They lost their qualifying times following an obscure race number switch. Parker Johnstone was the best Lights qualifyer in his Spice SE91 Acura, bettering the previous mark too with a 1m47s 790, just in front of the surprisingly fast Nissan 300ZX T, driven by Jeremy Dale. The two Nissans were ahead of the fastest Ford Mustang, driven by Dorsey Schroeder, who was trailed by the best Oldsmobile Cutlass driven by Irv Hoerr. The best GTU car was also a Nissan. It was the Fastcolor Leitzinger Racing 240SX driven by David Loring, while the sister car was second, just ahead of the best Mazda MX6, driven by Rob Wilson, in the Botero Racing car. At the start, Juan Fangio jumped in the lead, but he was soon overtaken by Masahiro Hasemi. Hans Stuck settled into third while Bernd Schneider would pit for fresh tires after two laps. Volker Weidler was fourth, followed by Bob Wollek, on the Courage. The two leading cars easily escaping from the rest of the field until the first refueling pit stops. Wayne Taylor had just handed his Spice to Jeff Purner when the car was stalled in the pits, with a broken clutch. The best Toyota, now driven by Andy Wallace, was pulled into the pits after one hour and fifteen minutes. An electrical failure would make him lose thirty three minutes. Johnny O'connell had jumped in the GTS class lead, and was running very strong, only to stop later to jump in the transaxle car. He would maintain his position for three hours, then would spin and his car would catch fire. Later in the race, it was David Brabham who tangled with the guardrail. He could make it to the pits, where his Jaguar was hastily repaired. Then it was brother Gary to hit his car literalmy at the same place. The Nissan was badly hurt, and was subsequently retired from the race later. Back in the lead, it was a Nissan war, with the NISMO car and the NPTI car trading the lead many times per hour. The Porsche pursuers remained confident as to their chances for the win, pointing the fact that the Nissan were running too fast. The Japanese car was soon overheating, but it was due to some dirt that covered part of the radiators. It was fixed very quickly.
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Behind the leaders, the From A Nissan was battling with the first Pprsche 962, driven by Hurley Haywood. The Courage driven by David Tennyson was to retire in the evening, with a broken piston, which brought the car to a very noisy halt. Still trailing its Japanese counterpart, the NPTI car driven by four-time Champ Geoff Brabham, was the next to retire, with a seized engine. The leading car was stoll ahead, but Toyota had a new misfortune, when Kenny Acheson hit the guardrail too! Three hours would be lost in the process. The second car, driven by Rocky Moran, was fighting with the best Courage. The best Porsche 962s were the Momo Racing car driven by Hans Stuck, just ahead of the Joest car, driven by Bernd Schneider. However, the Torno sponsored car was to retire later, with engine gone. The race went on and seemed to be settled when a frightening accident happened during the night, at 3,30PM. Pascal Fabre, who drove the Courage C28 Porsche along with Bob Wollek and Lionel Robert, crashed heavily his car along the pit straight. The car went into a series of five spins and was destroyed, but the French driver was left unhurt. The Pace car was out for fifty eight minutes, while the sweepers went into action.It seemed that Hans Stuck was able to close in on the Nissan, but he had to stop to have a door hinge repaired. Behind the leading Nissan, which ran flawlessly, the battle was harsh between the sole Jaguar, who ran strong, and the Schuppan Racing Porsche 962 driven by Eje Elgh, Hurley Haywood and Scott Brayton. A gearbox problem occured to the Jaguar, and thirty minutes were lost. By 7AM, the Momo Porsche 962 was out too, its engine out. The Schuppan Racing Porsche was a strong second, but five laps down the leaders. In fact, things were definitively settled when a right-rear brake caliper had to be replaced on the Porsche. It was finally the Jaguar XJR12 which came in second at the chequered, grabbing the IMSA GTP points.
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At the end, the NISMO Nissan R91CP, entered in the group C class, had utterly domonated the race, and Masahiro Hasemi, Kazuyoshi Hoshino and Toshio Suzuki had broken the overall record and ran 762 laps, which meant 4359,630 km at 181,651km/h. The Jaguar was nine laps down. The Lights class was dominated, from flag to flag, by the Comptech Spice SE91 Acura driven by Parker Johnstone, Dan Marvin and Jimmy Vasser. They won over the Kudzu DG2 Buick by a 27 lap margin, which was not due to any failure. They just could not keep up the pace. The GTS class was very strange, in that the winning car was idled on the track three hours from the finish, with a broken piston. As they had a 100 lap(!) advantage over the competition, they only had to settle and wait for the win. The mechanics waited for the chequered to be rolled and their car to be celebrated as a winner. The GTU class saw another Mazda victory, it was the eleventh for the Japanese make. This time, it was Dick Greer's Mazda RX7 which took the chequered and grabbed an outstanding seventh place overall. The Dick Greer, Mike Mees, Al Bacon and Peter Uria team ran a flawless race, and did not encounter any problem at all! They even bettered the GTS class winner, and it was the only time that a GTU car could boast for that! They finished 63 laps ahead of the Dibos Racing Mazda MX6 driven by Eduardo and Juan Dibos, who were partnered by Raul Orlandini. The Leitzinger Nissan 240SX driven by Bob and Butch Leitzinger, Chuck Kurtz, David Loring finished third. After dominating the first six hours, both cars suffered from mechanical failures, and they could not match their deficit.
It was an all Japanese year, with three class victories out of five gained by Nissan, Acura and Mazda. A sign of the times? Soon, things were to change dramatically. IMSA would take another road, but its future seemed to be settled forever. The WSC class was scheduled to replace the too costly GTP cars. 1992 and 1993 would be the last two years.
Full results here : Daytona 1992 standings