A Brief History Of The Rolex 24 At Daytona

Why the competition for the Rolex Daytona continues on and off the circuit.

By Carol Besler 03/02/2023

Winning the Rolex 24 At Daytona is a great way to cop a Daytona, the grail watch of the decade. Technically, it would only take you 24 hours compared to the legendary 10-year-plus wait lists at retail. But it won’t be easy.

First, you need to be in almost superhuman physical and mental condition, so your body can withstand the steady punishment of G-force pressure over a sustained period, driving at speeds up to 200 mph. You’ll need a supercar with an engine built to withstand 24 straight hours of abuse. Plus, several sets of spare tires and a pit crew of up to a dozen technicians, mechanics and data crunchers. And you’ll need the courage of a gladiator.

A Pit Stop at the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona
A Pit Stop at the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona

Twenty awe-inspiring drivers from four teams accomplished all of those things over the weekend at the Rolex 24 At Daytona. The race was extra thrilling this year because it debuted a new class of cars, the Le Mans Daytona hybrid (LMDh), the fastest entries in this year’s 61-car grid. The top performers in the new class were Acuras and Cadillacs, and they were a sight to see. The winning LMDh team, led by driver Tom Blomqvist, took the trophy in car number #60, an Acura ARX-06 by Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian.

Car 60 Driven by Tom Blomqvist at the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona
Car 60 Driven by Tom Blomqvist at the 2023 Rolex 24 At DaytonaRolex

“This race is so special and that’s mainly because of the watch,” says Blomqvist, who started and finished the race. “Ask any driver and they will say it’s the dream to win a Daytona. I have to thank my team; they have done a phenomenal job with this new car and were so good with our strategy, staying calm and relaxed throughout. The feeling on the last lap was incredible, nothing beats it.”

Overall Winners of the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona #60 Meyer Shank Racing: Simon Pagenaud, Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, and Helio Castroneves
Overall Winners of the 2023 Rolex 24 At Daytona #60 Meyer Shank Racing: Simon Pagenaud, Colin Braun, Tom Blomqvist, and Helio Castroneves

As someone who has seen races on TV, I have to say there is nothing like experiencing the action live. I had the privilege of watching the race in person over the weekend as a guest of Rolex. You have to be on the grounds to really get a sense of the energy at the Daytona International Speedway. You hear the constant thunderous drone of the engines (in fact, you can hear them blocks away), and you physically feel the vibration as 61 cars come flying past on a straightaway at 200 mph. The adrenalin is palpable and contagious. On the first day of the race, my heart pounded every time the cars roared past (as it did when I did a hot lap before the race started).

Sharing a space with a room full of gearheads in the Rolex suite, they eagerly explained how the cars, engines and track protocols work—there is so much more to it than just driving around in circles all day and trying not to get killed. The auto writers were excited to check out how the new LMDh class cars would perform, and even I could see how impressive they were.

“The new LMDh class is both a technological and an aesthetic achievement,” Kyle Hyatt of Jalopnik told me during the race, “but it’s too early to say whether it will usher in a new era in the sport. The complexity of the cars with their new hybrid systems will mean some teething issues for the manufacturers, as we saw this weekend [one of the hybrid batteries failed late in the race], but once things are sorted out, it should be very exciting.”

Hurley Haywood at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona
Hurley Haywood at the 2017 Rolex 24 at Daytona

I also gained insight from legendary American race car driver Hurley Haywood, who was available for a quick chat pre-race. Hurley, who is now retired, has five Rolex 24 At Daytona victories under his belt: 1973, 1975, 1977, 1979 and 1991. When asked about the new LMDh cars, Hurley said he was astonished by how high-tech they are: “The prototypes have a very unusual and complicated system, like a spaceship ready to take off. The steering wheel has 30 buttons, and the drivers have a 30-page manual that they have to memorise to make sure they push the right button at the right time. When I was racing, we had three lights, and if any of those three lights came on we knew we had a problem and we had to stop and figure it out. Now you’ve got 30 lights, all in different colours, as well as commands coming from the pits. Guys that are good on video games are where the next generation of drivers are going to come from. They can assimilate all that information very quickly and then make the right move.”

“I don’t think I could drive one of these cars,” he added. “When you’re driving, you have to concentrate 100 percent all the time on driving. Now you’ve got that same condition, plus you’ve got the commands from the pits, so that concentration is interrupted. When I was in the car, it was: don’t talk to me unless I’m on fire, or unless something really bad is happening.”

The winners in the other three car classes were:

– Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2): the #55 Proton Competition Oreca LMP2-07 Gibson securing victory by a remarkable 0.016 seconds.

– Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3): the #17 AWA Duqueine D08-VK, which led for the closing two hours.

– Grand Touring Daytona (GTD): the #79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 prevailed in GTD Pro, while the #27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 raced to their first GTD class win.

The History of the Rolex Daytona Race

Rolex has been associated with the sport since the beginning, bringing the cachet of the world’s most coveted watch to the speedway. Between 1903 and 1959, the races took place on the actual beach, on a hard-packed stretch of sand just above the surf—cars would often skid into the water on some of the turns. Anyone could enter the races, and legend has it that a number of the best drivers had been involved in contraband alcohol traditionally distilled in the Appalachian mountains in the southeastern United States, so they were well practiced in evading the federal agents who regularly chased after them.

When Sir Malcolm Campbell broke his own speed record on the beach in 1935, he had a Rolex Oyster strapped to his wrist. Dan Gurney, the champion who started the champagne-spraying tradition among winners, wore a Rolex Datejust when he won the first Daytona Continental (as it was called back then), in 1962.

Rolex Daytona Ref. 116503 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona Trophy
Rolex Daytona Ref. 116503 and the Rolex 24 At Daytona Trophy

By 1963, the Cosmograph Daytona Ref. 6239 joined the action, a year after Rolex made its Daytona racing sponsorship official (this year’s prize was a two-tone Ref. 116503). The watch was originally introduced as the Cosmograph, but the Daytona signature was added a year later to commemorate Rolex’s official sponsorship role in 1964. By then, the action had regrouped at the new hard-surface racetrack. With urban development and the deterioration of the sand, beach racing had come to an end in the mid-1950s, and the new Daytona International Speedway took its place in 1959.

Driver Tom Kristensen, who holds the record for the most wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans, (also sponsored by Rolex) once said: “Ask anyone in the motorsports world to name a watch and the first to be mentioned is bound to be the Rolex Cosmograph Daytona. It has a history and class around it that everyone trying to aim for the top in motor sport understands and respects. Motorsport is all about getting the best out of your machine through optimisation and technology, and anyone who is interested in that is also interested in mechanical watches.”

The Daytona has evolved over the years with continual upgrades, including new movements, stronger materials and minor design tweaks that improved yet preserved the original look. Here’s a brief timeline:

1963: Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239

Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 from 1963
Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 from 1963

The first Daytona, Ref. 6239, was introduced under the name Cosmograph, Rolex’s first chronograph with contrasting subdials, and the first to have a tachymeter scale engraved on the metal bezel rather than printed on the dial.

1964: Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239

Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 from 1964
Rolex Daytona Ref. 6239 from 1964

The “Daytona” signature was introduced to commemorate Rolex’s sponsorship of the motor race at Daytona Beach. Models produced over the next few years can be dated according to the placement of the logo: From 1964 to 1967, “Daytona” was placed at 12 o’clock under the word “Cosmograph.” From 1967 onwards, it was placed above the subdial at 6 o’clock.

1988: Rolex Daytona Ref. 16520

Rolex Daytona 16520
Rolex Daytona Ref. 16520 

The Ref. 16520 was the first Daytona fitted with an automatic movement, the Rolex calibre 4030, based on the Zenith Calibre 4030.

2000: Rolex Calibre 4130

Rolex Caliber 4130
Rolex Calibre 4130

An in-house movement, calibre 4130 was added to the model in 2000’s Ref. 116520. The 4130 is a high-performance chronograph movement with a vertical clutch and a Parachrom balance spring, resulting in better amplitude and greater accuracy.


2016: Rolex Daytona With a Cerachrom Bezel

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with Cerachrom Bezel
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with Cerachrom Bezel

A milestone year for the Daytona, with the introduction of what is widely referred to as the perfect combination of elements: a steel case with a black Cerachrom bezel and the automatic calibre 4130.

2017: Rolex Daytona With an Oysterflex Strap

Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with Oysterflex Strap
Rolex Oyster Perpetual Cosmograph Daytona with Oysterflex Strap

Rolex introduced the gold Daytona on an Oysterflex rubber strap in 2017. As the first in the series to be produced in precious metal with a rubber strap and Cerachrom bezel, this is also destined to become a collector’s favourite.


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Timeless Glamour & Music Aboard The Venice Simplon-Orient Express

Lose yourself in a luxury journey, aboard an Art Deco train from Paris

By Belinda Aucott 03/11/2023

Watching the unseen corners of Europe unfold gently outside your train, window can be thirsty work, right? That’s why Belmond Hotels is once again staging a culinary train journey from Paris to Venice, aboard the glittering Art Deco carriages of the Venice Simplon-Orient Express.

To celebrate diversity and inclusion in the LBTQ+ community, another unforgettable train ride is slated for 2 November.

On the journey, ample servings of decadent cuisine will be served and live entertainment will play looooong into the night. Trans-DJ Honey Dijon and Dresden’s Purple Disco Machine are both part of the disco-house line-up.

Passengers are encouraged to dress in black-tie or cocktail attire, before they head to the bar and dining carriages to enjoy their night, where they are promised ‘unapologetic extravagance’,.

Negronis, martinis, spritzes and sours will all be on offer as the sunlight fades.

So-hot-right-now French chef Jean Imbert is also in the kitchen rattling the pans for guests.

Imber puts a garden-green-goodness twist on Gallic traditions. He regularly cooks for the who’s-who. Imbert recently co-created a food concept for Dior in Paris, worked with Pharrell Williams to present a dinner in Miami, and he’s even been invited to Cheval Blanc St-Barth to cater luxe LVMH-owned property.

The young chef is vowing to create no less than ‘culinary perfection’ in motion with his own passion for fresh seasonal produce. There’ll be plenty of Beluga caviar, seared scallops, and lobster vol-au-vents.

“I want to create beautiful moments which complement the train, which is the true star,” says Imbert of his hands-on approach to delectable pastries and twists on elegant Euro classics.

“Its unique legacy is something we take pride in respecting, while evolving a new sense of style and purpose that will captivate a new generation.”

Check the timetable for the itinerary of lush inclusions here.

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Gentlemanly Restraint 

Art and science collide in the the newly released BR03A watch collection by Bell & Ross.

By Belinda Aucott 02/11/2023

In keeping with the brand’s design salute to aviation and military equipment, the pared-back face of the Bell & Ross BR03 Automatic takes its cue from the instrumentation in cockpits. It’s unabashedly minimal and confidently masculine style is set to make it a future classic.

Faithful to the codes that underpin the brand’s identity, the new utilitarian offerings sit within a smaller 41-mm case (a slight departure from the original at 42 mm Diver, Chrono or GMT.) and has a reduced lug width and slimmer hands. The changes extend to the watch movement, which has been updated with a BR-CAL.302 calibre. The watch is waterproof to 300 metres and offers a power reserve of 54 hours.

While the new collection offers an elegant sufficiency of colourways, from a stealthy black to more decorative bronze face with a tan strap, each is a faithful rendition of the stylish “rounded square, four-screw” motif that is Bell & Ross’s calling card.



For extra slickness, the all-black Phantom and Nightlum models have a stealthy, secret-agent appeal, offering up a new take on masculine restraint.

Yet even the more decorative styles, like the black face with contrasting army-green band, feel eminently versatile and easy to wear. The 60’s simplicity and legibility of the face is what makes it so distinctive and functional.

For example, the BR 03-92 Nightlum, with its black matte case and dial, and bright green indices and hands, offers a great contrast during the day and emits useful luminosity at night.

A watch that begs to be read, the the BR03-A stands up to scrutiny, and looks just as good next to a crisp, white cuff as it does at the end of a matte, black wetsuit.

That’s a claim not many watch collections can make. 

Explore the collection.

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First Drive: The Porsche 911 S/T Is a Feral Beast That Handles the Road Like an Olympic Bobsledder

The commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the GT3 RS and includes a 518 hp engine.

By Basem Wasef 23/10/2023

The soul of any sports car comes down to the alchemy of its tuning—how the engine, suspension, and chassis blend into a chorus of sensations. The secret sauce of the new Porsche 911 S/T, developed as a tribute to the 60th anniversary of the brand’s flagship model, is more potent than most; in fact, it makes a serious case for being the most driver-focused 911 of all time.

Sharing the S/T designation with the homologation special from the 1960s, the (mostly) innocuously styled commemorative model borrows underpinnings from the more visually extroverted GT3 RS. Yet what the S/T, starting at $290,000, lacks in fender cutouts and massive spoilers it makes up for in directness: a flat-six power plant that revs to 9,000 rpm, a motorsport-derived double-wishbone suspension, and a manual gearbox. It’s a delightfully feral combination.

Rossen Gargolov

Whereas the automatic-transmission GT3 RS is ruthlessly configured for maximum downforce and minimum lap times, the S/T is dialed in for the road—particularly the Southern Italian ones on which we’re testing the car, which happen to be the very same used by product manager Uwe Braun, Andreas Preuninger, head of Porsche’s GT line, and racing legend Walter Röhrl to finalize its calibration. The car reacts to throttle pressure with eerie deftness, spinning its 518 hp engine with thrilling immediacy, thanks to shorter gear ratios.

The steering response is similarly transparent, as direct as an unfiltered Marlboro, and the body follows with the agility of an Olympic bobsledder. Some of that purity of feeling is the result of addition through subtraction: Power-sapping elements including a hydraulic clutch and rear-axle steering were ditched, which also enabled the battery to be downsized for even more weight savings. The final result, with its carbon-fiber body panels, thinner glass, magnesium wheels, and reduced sound deadening, is the lightest 992-series variant on record, with roughly the same mass as the esteemed 911 R from 2016.

Driver engagement is further bolstered by the astounding crispness of the short-throw gearbox. The S/T fits hand in glove with narrow twisties and epic sweepers, or really any stretch that rewards mechanical grip and the ability to juke through hairpin corners. The cabin experience is slightly less raucous than the 911 R, but more raw than the wingless 911 GT3 Touring, with an intrusive clatter at idle due to the single-mass flywheel and featherlight clutch. Porsche cognoscenti will no doubt view the disturbance in the same way that hardcore Ducatisti revere the tambourine-like rattle of a traditional dry clutch: as an analog badge of honor.

The main bragging right, though, may just be owning one. In a nod to the year the 911 debuted, only 1,963 examples of the S/T will be built. Considering the seven-year-old 911 R started life at$295,000 and has since fetched upwards of $790,000, this new lightweight could bring proportionately heavy returns—if you can be pried from behind the wheel long enough to sell it, that is.

Images by Rossen Gargolov

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From Electric Surfboards to Biodegradable Golf Balls: 8 Eco-Conscious Yacht Toys for Green and Clean Fun

Just add water and forget the eco-guilt.

By Gemma Harris 18/10/2023

Without toys, yachts would be kind of sedentary. There’s nothing wrong with an alfresco meal, sunsets on the flybridge and daily massages. But toys add zest to life on board, while creating a deeper connection with the water. These days, there are a growing number of options for eco-friendly gadgets and equipment that deliver a greener way to play. These eight toys range from do-it-yourself-propulsion (waterborne fitness bikes) to electric foiling boards, from kayaks made of 100 percent recycled plastics to non-toxic, biodegradable golf balls with fish food inside. Your on-water adrenaline rushes don’t always have to be about noise and gas fumes. They can be fun, silent, and eco-conscious.

A game of golf isn’t just for land. Guests can play their best handicap from the deck with Albus Golf’s eco-friendly golf balls. The ecological and biodegradable golf balls are 100 percent safe for marine flora and fauna, and manufactured with non-contaminating materials. The balls will biodegrade within 48 hours after hitting the ocean and release the fish food contained in their core. For a complete golfing experience, add a floating FunAir green. From $3100 (FunAir Yacht Golf) and $315 a box (golf balls). funair.com

Fliteboard Series 2.0

The future of surf is electric, and Fliteboard offers an emissions-free and environmentally friendly electric hydrofoil. Flying over the water has never been as efficient and low impact, using new technologies with less than 750 watts of electric power. This second series boasts various performance factors for all riding styles. It also features an increased trigger range from 20 to 40 degrees for more precision and control. Fliteboard designed this series for every possible foiling ability, from newbies to wave-carvers. From $22,000. fliteboard.com

Manta 5 Hydrofoiler XE-1

Hailing from New Zealand and using America’s Cup technology, Manta 5 offers the first hydrofoil bike. The Hydrofoiler XE-1 replicates the cycling experience on the water. Powered by fitness-level pedaling and assisted by the onboard battery, top speeds can reach up to 19 km per hour. The two hydrofoils are carbon fibre, and the frame is aircraft-grade aluminium. The onboard Garmin computer will relay all the stats. The effortless gliding sensation will accompany you through a workout, exploration or just circling the boat. From $950. manta5.com

Mo-Jet’s Jet Board

Imagine five toys in one: The Mo Jet delivers just that. From jet surfing, bodyboarding, and e-foiling to scooter diving. This versatile, German-built toy is perfect for those who cannot decide. The Mo-jet uses a cool modular system allowing you to switch between activities. Whether you want to stand, be dragged around or dive, you can have it all. It even has a life-saving module and a 2.8m rescue electric surfboard. Made from environmentally friendly and recyclable polyethene, it also ticks the eco-conscious boxes. Complete with an 11kW electric water jet, it charges in 75 mins, offering up to 30 mins of fun. Adrenaline junkies will also not be disappointed, since speed surges from 0 to 27 knots in 3 seconds. From $18,000. mo-jet.com

Silent Yachts Tender ST400

Driven by innovation and solar energy, Silent Yachts recently launched its first electric tender, the ST400. The 13-footer has clean-cut lines and is built with either an electric jet drive or a conventional electric outboard engine. The ST400 reaches speeds above 20 knots. From $110,000. silent-yachts.com

Osiris Outdoor ‘Reprisal’ Kayak

Kayaks are ideal for preserving and protecting nature, but they’re usually manufactured with materials that will last decades longer than we will and therefore not too eco-friendly. Founded by US outdoor enthusiasts, Osiris Outdoor has created a new type of personal boat. “The Reprisal” kayak is manufactured in the US entirely from recycled plastics (around 27 kgs) that are purchased from recycling facilities. The sustainable manufacturing process isn’t its only selling point; the lightweight Reprisals have spacious storage compartments, rod holders and a watertight hatch for gadgets. Complete with a matte-black finish for a stylish look. From $1100. osirisoutdoor.com

The Fanatic Ray Eco SUP Paddleboard

Declared as the most sustainable SUP, the Ray Eco is the brainchild of the Zero Emissions Project and BoardLab, supported by Fanatic. Glass and carbon fibre have been replaced with sustainable Kiri tree wood. And you can forget toxic varnishes and resins; organic linseed oil has been used to seal the board and maintain its durability. This fast, light, and stable board is truly one of a kind, not available off the rack. This craftsman’s love for detail and preservation is another first-class quality of the board. From $10,000 boardlab.de

Northern Light Composite X Clean Sailors EcoOptimist

One of the most popular, single-handed dinghies in sailing’s history, the tiny Optimist has undergone a sustainable revival. Northern Light Composites and not-for-profit Clean Sailors have teamed up to launch the first sustainable and recyclable Optimist. Using natural fibres and eco-sustainable resins, The EcoOptimist supports a new circular economy in yachting. OneSail also produces the sail with a low-carbon-footprint manufacturing process. From $6000. ecooptisailing.com

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The 50 Best Cocktail Bars in the World, According to a New Ranking

The World’s 50 Best organisation gave the Spanish bar Sips top honours during an awards ceremony in Singapore.

By Tori Latham 18/10/2023

If you’re looking for the best bar in the world, you better head to Barcelona.
Sips, from the industry luminaries Simone Caporale and Marc Álvarez, was named the No. 1 bar on the planet in the latest World’s 50 Best Bars ranking. The organisation held its annual awards ceremony on Tuesday in Singapore, the first time it hosted the gathering in Asia. Sips, which only opened two years ago, moved up to the top spot from No. 3 last year.
“Sips was destined for greatness even before it rocketed into the list at No. 37 just a few short months after opening in 2021,” William Drew, the director of content for 50 Best, said in a statement.
“The bar seamlessly translates contemporary innovation and technical precision into a playful cocktail programme, accompanied by the warmest hospitality, making it a worthy winner of The World’s Best Bar 2023 title.”
Coming in second was North America’s best bar: New York City’s Double Chicken Please. The top five was rounded out by Mexico City’s Handshake Speakeasy, Barcelona’s Paradiso (last year’s No. 1), and London’s Connaught Bar. The highest new entry was Seoul’s Zest at No. 18, while the highest climber was Oslo’s Himkok, which moved up to No. 10 from No. 43 last year.
Barcelona may be home to two of the top five bars, but London has cemented its status as the cocktail capital of the world: The English city had five bars make the list, more than any other town represented. Along with Connaught Bar in the top five, Tayēr + Elementary came in at No. 8, and Satan’s Whiskers (No. 28), A Bar With Shapes for a Name (No. 35), and Scarfes Bar (No. 41) all made the grade too.
The United States similarly had a good showing this year. New York City, in particular, is home to a number of the best bars: Overstory (No. 17) and Katana Kitten (No. 27) joined Double Chicken Please on the list.
Elsewhere, Miami’s Café La Trova hit No. 24 and New Orleans’s Jewel of the South snuck in at No. 49, bringing the Big Easy back to the ranking for the first time since 2014.
To celebrate their accomplishments, all of this year’s winners deserve a drink—made by somebody else at least just this once.
Check out the full list of the 50 best bars in the world below.
1. Sips, Barcelona
2. Double Chicken Please, New York
3. Handshake Speakeasy, Mexico City
4. Paradiso, Barcelona
5. Connaught Bar, London
6. Little Red Door, Paris
7. Licorería Limantour, Mexico City
8. Tayēr + Elementary, London
9. Alquímico, Cartagena
10. Himkok, Oslo
11. Tres Monos, Buenos Aires
12. Line, Athens
13. BKK Social Club, Bangkok
14. Jigger & Pony, Singapore
15. Maybe Sammy, Sydney
16. Salmon Guru, Madrid
17. Overstory, New York
18. Zest, Seoul
19. Mahaniyom Cocktail Bar, Bangkok
20. Coa, Hong Kong
21. Drink Kong, Rome
22. Hanky Panky, Mexico City
23. Caretaker’s Cottage, Melbourne
24. Café La Trova, Miami
25. Baba au Rum, Athens
26. CoChinChina, Buenos Aires
27. Katana Kitten, New York
28. Satan’s Whiskers, London
29. Wax On, Berlin
30. Florería Atlántico, Buenos Aires
31. Röda Huset, Stockholm
32. Sago House, Singapore
33. Freni e Frizioni, Rome
34. Argo, Hong Kong
35. A Bar With Shapes for a Name, London
36. The SG Club, Tokyo
37. Bar Benfiddich, Tokyo
38. The Cambridge Public House, Paris
39. Panda & Sons, Edinburgh
40. Mimi Kakushi, Dubai
41. Scarfes Bar, London
42. 1930, Milan
43. Carnaval, Lima
44. L’Antiquario, Naples
45. Baltra Bar, Mexico City
46. Locale Firenze, Florence
47. The Clumsies, Athens
48. Atlas, Singapore
49. Jewel of the South, New Orleans
50. Galaxy Bar, Dubai

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