The Proton Competition-run WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 which MacNeil shared with factory Mercedes drivers Gounon, Daniel Juncadella and Maro Engel led 229 of the 729 laps that their car completed and won the class by 3.9 seconds after an absorbing three-way fight with the factory Corvette Racing C8.R and the #14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F.
The only setbacks for the team over the 24 hours were two pitlane penalties, one for spinning the rear wheels while the car was on its jacks, the other for running over an air hose.
Two-time American Le Mans Series GTC class champion MacNeil has announced that he is now hanging up his helmet to focus on business commitments with the WeatherTech group after an IMSA career that counts three class wins at Petit Le Mans (2018, 2020 and 2021), the 2021 Sebring 12 Hours and finally the Daytona 24.
MacNeil said: “Before this race, my greatest accomplishment in racing was finishing second at Le Mans [in GTE Am] last year. To finish my career in IMSA with a win at Daytona… you can’t ask for more.
“I couldn’t have done it without my dad (David MacNeil), WeatherTech and Christian Ried and his Proton team.
“Mercedes gave us three of their best drivers, they build a great car that was fast and fair. It was us, Corvette and Lexus for the last fourth of the race.
“You have to have all of the elements to win here, car, drivers, support, teamwork and fast drivers. We had all of that today.”
Gounon, who will race the car full-time this year alongside Juncadella, agreed that the result was a worthy send-off for the 30-year-old American.
Said Gounon: “To win for David and Cooper and WeatherTech is a privilege. I think it was Cooper’s last race in IMSA, so this is a proper send-off.
“You need to be the best on the track and in the pits to win this race and we were, over the 24 hours.
“Cooper, Maro, and Dani all drove great, and I had a good day myself. I think tonight we can celebrate with something nice on our wrist.”
Because the car was leading at quarter, half and three-quarter distance, WeatherTech Racing also made a strong start for its bid to win the Michelin Endurance Cup as well as the overall GTD Pro championship.
Juncadella added: “To start the year like this with a bang is great!
“I am thankful to the MacNeil family for a great effort and support. I love racing here and starting the year like this is great.
“We scored all the points available – the six-hour, 12-hour, and 18-hour endurance points and the overall win. Just great!”