Maldonado hails "special" first win as sportscar driver

Pastor Maldonado has hailed his “special” first win as a sportscar driver following his LMP2 class triumph with DragonSpeed in last weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Maldonado hails "special" first win as sportscar driver

Former Williams and Lotus Formula 1 star Maldonado switched full-time to endurance racing at the start of 2018 after signing up to DragonSpeed’s LMP2 effort in the FIA World Endurance Championship.

With three rounds left of the 2018/19 superseason, Maldonado and co-driver Roberto Gonzalez lie fourth in the LMP2 class standings, having scored a best finish of second in the most recent round of the series in Shanghai last November.

Maldonado and Gonzalez were joined in their #18 Oreca-Gibson at Daytona by Sebastian Saavedra and Ryan Cullen, and came through a fraught weather-affected race to claim victory in IMSA’s new secondary prototype class.

Asked by Motorsport.com whether he felt the win marked his arrival as a true sportscar driver, Maldonado replied: “Yes, I need to say that. It’s a special one, it’s our first, my first Daytona, really pleased about this.

"But obviously every new process needs its time, and I think we’ve been working quite hard since the beginning of my experience in prototypes.

“Now we’ve covered that first experience and I need to say the team is very well compact and delivering our best. Normally we should be fighting for the win from now on.”

Saavedra appeared to put DragonSpeed’s win in jeopardy when he aquaplaned and hit the wall in the closing stages, an accident that prompted the final caution period of the race.

The former IndyCar racer was able to get the stricken #18 car back to the pits, but admitted the fact the race was stopped shortly afterwards saved the team from potentially losing out to rival squad Performance Tech, which was four laps down.

“When I did put it in the wall, everything went through my mind,” said Saavedra.

“The first thing you think of is you let down this amazing group of people and the amazing crew that have pushed for 48 hours. It was almost heart-breaking.

“But the engine was still on, and I was able to point it at such an angle that not much damage was done, we were able to come back [to the pits].

“I did not expect it to go red, I think that was our saving moment. But we were ready to go back out and continue doing what we were doing.

“It was just the front nose [that was damaged], kudos to Oreca because that car’s a tank.”

#18 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2, LMP2: Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra, Ryan Cullen, P2 class winner

#18 DragonSpeed ORECA LMP2, LMP2: Roberto Gonzalez, Pastor Maldonado, Sebastian Saavedra, Ryan Cullen, P2 class winner

Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / LAT Images

shares
comments
Zanardi’s Rolex 24 experience “more sweet than bitter”

Previous article

Zanardi’s Rolex 24 experience “more sweet than bitter”

Next article

CORE showed it’s ‘still a contender’ with Nissan

CORE showed it’s ‘still a contender’ with Nissan
Load comments
Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy Prime

Why a Mazda IMSA Prototype title would bring bitter joy

Can Mazda win this year’s IMSA Prototype championship? Undoubtedly. But it will be the culmination of an achingly hard struggle, after which the brand has decided to quit. David Malsher-Lopez tells the story of a bizarre blend of heartache and positivity.

IMSA
Apr 6, 2021
The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC Prime

The GTE dilemma that IMSA has created for the WEC

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s decision to scrap its GT Le Mans class for 2022 raises the question of whether the FIA World Endurance Championship should phase out GTE cars. But it's a much harder decision than it appears on the surface.

WEC
Feb 3, 2021
Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona Prime

Nine things to watch at the 2021 Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona

After a 100-minute sprint race to whet the appetite, the 2021 IMSA SportsCar Championship gets underway properly this weekend. With plenty of significant changes during the winter, here are the key points you need to keep an eye on

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars Prime

Why Magnussen is relishing a fresh start in sportscars

Having gone over seven years without a race win through spells with McLaren, Renault and Haas, Kevin Magnussen's departure from Formula 1 for IMSA with big-hitters Chip Ganassi Racing could give him what he craves most - a chance of success

IMSA
Jan 29, 2021
Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights Prime

Oliver Gavin's Corvette Racing highlights

Oliver Gavin has stepped down from the full-time Corvette Racing line-up after a stellar career with the team spanning nearly 20 years. He looks back on a stint that encompassed, among other successes, five Le Mans 24 Hours victories.

Le Mans
Jan 28, 2021
How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends Prime

How Tandy joined an exclusive club of endurance legends

Victory at last year's Spa 24 Hours meant Nick Tandy had completed the unofficial sextuple crown of the world's six biggest endurance races, becoming the first Briton to do so. Ahead of his fresh start with Corvette Racing, he explains how he did it…

Le Mans
Jan 24, 2021
The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked Prime

The 12 greatest Sebring 12 Hours ranked

The 2020 edition of the Florida sportscar classic is finally taking place this weekend, eight months after its traditional date in March. That meant there was plenty of time for Motorsport.com to pour over its previous 67 races and select the best.

IMSA
Nov 11, 2020
Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words Prime

Tony Kanaan’s top 10 races – in his own words

The 2004 IndyCar champion and 2013 Indy 500 winner Tony Kanaan probably hasn’t yet driven his final IndyCar race, but we still asked him for the 10 most significant races of his career. He explained his choices to David Malsher-Lopez.

IndyCar
Sep 7, 2020