Daytona 24 hours – The next round of scheduled pit stops saw Ricky Taylor step out of the No. 10 Acura, putting Filipe Albuquerque behind the wheel for the 90-minute dash for cash. Jarvis also got out of the No. 55 Mazda, putting Harry Tincknell in for the finish.
Filipe Albuquerque leads the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the race approaches the final few hours, but with five cars still on the lead lap in DPi, the race is still anyone’s game.
The 17th hour of the race started with a caution, as Scott Huffaker in the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07-Gibson spun onto the grass on the road course, seemingly unable to move. A caution was called by race control, but almost immediately Huffaker got the car moving.
Despite this, the full caution period had to play out, with erach class pitting in turn and lining up in class order. At the restart eight laps later, Castroneves in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 led Dane Cameron’s #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 and the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, with Pipo Derani at the wheel.
However, Renger van der Zande in the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. wasn’t too far behind, and he quickly passed Jimmie Johnson in the #48 Ally Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and Derani, leaving just the two Acuras ahead.
12 laps later and van der Zande was able to take the lead, and began pulling away from both Acuras.
Meanwhile, there was a fantastic battle emerging in the GTD class, between #57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3 Evo, driven by Maro Engel, and Daniel Serra at the wheel of #’21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE. Serra evidently had the pace and will to overtake but, try as he might, he couldn’t find a way past Engel. The two kept it relatively clean, with just a small amount of contact as turn 1 as they diced for the lead of the class.
In the middle of this, van der Zande pitted the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac, handing it over to Kevin Magnussen. Both Castroneves and Cameron stayed in their cars, with the Brazilian leading coming out of the pits.
Pretty soon, Magnussen was on the back of Cameron and passed him for second, setting his sights on Castroneves for the lead of the race.
Back in the GTD battle and Serra still hadn’t found a way past Engel. If he hoped to get past with a better pitstop from his team, this wasn’t happening either, with both cars pitting at the same time and Engel pulling away in the lead. Mid way into the fuel stint, though, Serra managed to get past Engel, taking the lead of GTD. However, he wasn’t able to pull away and the two stayed close.
Meanwhile, Castroneves had pitted again, with the team switching drivers to IndyCar star Alexander Rossi. Magnussen was just 2 seconds back when they’d both pitted, although the pace of the two cars was very similar, and it took him a further 10 laps to close in to a second gap.
In between this battle, the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. was taken behind the wall, having developed a gearbox issue whereby Felipe Nasr could not shift out of third gear. It would be a further 20 laps until they car got back out on track, thoroughly out of contention for the win.
A few laps later, the two drivers went side by side into T1, but Rossi used some GT traffic to maintain the lead, with Magnussen just a few tenths behind. A lap later and Magussen attempted a pass at the bus stop on the back straight, but ran wide and Rossi, the more experienced sportscar driver, was able to take the lead back almost as quickly as he lost it.
Another caution, for debris on the front straight, delayed this battle. The DPis duly pitted, but the #55 Mazda Motorsports, which had been at least a few laps down for many hours, did not pit and was able to get back onto the lead lap, albeit around a minute back.
When the race went green again on lap 627, Rossi and Magnussen immediately resumed their battle for the lead. One lap later and Magnussen again attempted to take the lead at the bus stop, and got the move done, seemingly having learnt from his mistake before the caution period.
However, he wouldn’t keep the lead for long. He had to take a drivethrough penalty, for spinning the wheels while the car was up on the airjacks in the pits, putting him 35 seconds behind Rossi.
Into the 20th hour and the GTD battle was still as hot as ever, with the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3-Evo, driven by Philip Ellis, Luca Stolz in the #75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes AMG-GT3-Evo, and Matteo Cressoni in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GTE all close together on track.
However, while the racing was clean for most of the hour, on lap 662, Ellis ad Cressoni made contact, sending the Italian onto the grass and into the tyre wall on the road course. This gave him a puncture, for which he had to pit, relegating him down the order in GTD.
And so, with four hours to go, Filipe Albuquerque in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 led the race, with Simon Pagenaud’s Ally Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. just two seconds back. Juan Pablo Montoya in the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 was a further 10 seconds back.
Ryan Dalziel held the LMP2 lead in the #18 Era Motorsport ORECA 07-Gibson, from #8 Tower Motorsport ORECA 07-Gibson’s Timothe Buret and Fabian Schiller in the #82 DragonSpeed ORECA 07-Gibson.
LMP3 leader Scott Andrews, in the #74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 VK, had a two lap lead on #33 Sean Creach Motorsport Ligier JS P320 VK’s Yann Clairay. Third in class was Kenton Koch, driving the #6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine D08, a further 5 laps down.
GTLM was still an all-Corvette affair, with #3 Corvette Racing C8.R’s Nicky Catsburg leading Alexander Sims in #4 Corvette Racing C8.R. However, the #24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE of Jesse Krohn was only 12 seconds back, ready to pounce on any mistakes.
Finally, the GTD lead was held by Philip Ellis in the #57 Winward Racing Mercedes AMG-GT3-Evo, with Luca Stolz’s #75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes AMG-GT3-Evo only a second behind. Patrick Long in the #16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R was a further 20 seconds back.
DAYTONA 24 HOURS – ALBUQUERQUE LEADS DAYTONA 24 HOURS – ALBUQUERQUE LEADS