James Allen has recounted his charge to the LMP2 class victory at the Rolex 24 at Daytona in what was a photo finish.
The Australian, driving for Proton Competition, finished just 0.016s in front of second in class, the #04 Crowdstrike Racing entry, after a drag race to the line.
Allen shared the car with Francesco Pizzi, Fred Poordad, and Gianmaria Bruni, but it was he who was at the wheel for the final stint.
In striking distance as the final lap began, the 26-year-old admitted to rolling the dice as he began the final 3.56 miles of the race.
He'd made a similar move on the penultimate lap but, on the outside of Turn 1, he ceded the position and fell in behind once more.
“I just thought, well there's no need to force any late braking moves or any big risks if I have the straight line speed and the aero package to beat him to the line coming out of the bus stop,” he told Speedcafe.com.
“Definitely, it was a bit of a gamble because I could have – anything could have gone wrong.'
His focus was therefore on navigating through the infield cleanly, with a focus on getting onto the banking and through the Bus Stop to set up the drag race to the line.
Using the slipstream, Allen pulled out to win by a margin of less than a metre after more than 4300km of racing.
“Definitely top two – probably my favourite,” he added when asked where the drive ranks in his career.
“Just the way it happened. I was in at the end with all the other pro LMP2 drivers and I managed to get them all and take the win.
“I think in terms of my personal drives, that's definitely one of my favourites, if not my favourite.”
The result came after a difficult build-up to the event, with two separate crashes compromising the team's preparation.
What's more, it was Proton Competition's first event with LMP2 machinery, giving the squad something of a baptism of fire.
Alongside the crashes, there were gearbox problems that limited running, and while the car started 10th and last in class, it headed into the race with comparatively few laps.
Allen was tasked with much of the running overnight when the squad's four-driver roster was limited by IMSA to just three owing to the lack of running during practice.
That, coupled with the crashes during practice and qualifying as well as the late arrival of the car served to only sweeten the taste of victory.
“We came from a long way back, but we knew – the way Daytona works, you just have to be there in the last hour or two,” he explained.
“We got the car maybe a couple of weeks before the event,” Allen added of preparations for Daytona.
“They've never worked on a P2 car before, they are very inexperienced, and we still managed to take that kind of victory.
“[I'm] very, very confident as a driver going forward.”
A leaking water bottle fitting triggered electrical issues for the #8 Tower Motorsports entry early, the car eventually finishing fifth in class.
The second round of the IMSA SportsCar Championship is the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18.