Polesitter Magnussen moved the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac into the lead at the start, and fellow Cadillac drivers Pipo Derani (Action Express Racing) and Tristan Vautier (JDC-Miller MotorSports) swiftly made it a Caddy 1-2-3 ahead of Harry Tincknell’s Mazda and the two Acuras of Ricky Taylor and Olivier Pla.
Magnussen and Derani pulled away into a race of their own, having a dozen seconds in hand by the time Tincknell displaced Vautier for third place as they lapped GTD runners.
Magnussen had pulled a 4.1sec lead over Derani by the time they made their first stops with 47mins to go, to hand off to van der Zande and Felipe Nasr respectively. Nasr chipped away at the gap, and got it down to 1.5sec with 40mins to go.
There was a new third-place car following the stops, as a strong in-lap from Ricky Taylor and strong out lap by Filipe Albuquerque had seen the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura vault ahead of Oliver Jarvis who was now steering the Mazda, and Loic Duval in the JDC-Miller Caddy.
With half an hour to go, the lead battle had closed up, but was yo-yo-ing back and forth as the lead pair lapped GTD runners. On a clear track, Nasr seemed to have the edge, but van der Zande inched away as they negotiated traffic. These two were half a minute up on Albuquerque, who was having to defend hard from Jarvis and Duval.
A full-course caution for retrieval of the Turner BMW with 9mins to go meant a 3min sprint to the finish. Van der Zande and Nasr sprinted away from their competition once more, but van der Zande wouldn’t be harried into a mistake and delivered Chip Ganassi his first Prototype-class victory since 2015.
Albuquerque held off Jarvis and Duval to the checkered flag, with Dane Cameron bringing the Meyer Shank Acura home a troubled sixth.
Richard Heistand got bottled up by the two Corvette C8.Rs running an exhibition race as the sole participants in GT Le Mans, but retained his GTD lead in the Carbahn Peregrine Racing Audi R8, ahead of Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, Robby Foley in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6, and Aaron Telitz with the #14 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F.
A collision between Rob Ferriol in the Team Hardpoint Porsche 911 and Michael de Quesada’s Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 had caused a caution period as the Porsche needed retrieving. Following the restart, Telitz was left upholding Lexus honor as Madison Snow in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan punted Frankie Montecalvo’s #14 Lexus into a spin , and was issued with a drive-through penalty.
The GTD stops began just after Lap 18, with Robby Foley handing off to Bill Auberlen, and following the stops, while Jeff Westphal kept the Audi in the lead, Auberlen was up to second, ahead of Ross Gunn who’d taken over the HoR Aston Martin.
Jack Hawksworth was now piloting the #14 Lexus ahead of Marco Mapelli in the GRT Grasser Racing Lambo, Marc Miller and Mario Farnbacher in the two Acura NSXs and Bryan Sellers trying to make up for Snow’s earlier indiscretion. Farnbacher passed Miller for sixth on Lap 28.
Nearer the front of the class, Hawksworth deposed Gunn’s Aston Martin to claim third and move onto the tail of Auberlen, but within a couple of laps he had a punctured right-front tire and had to limp to the pitlane.
While Westphal pulled almost 5sec ahead of the chasing pack with 20mins to go, Gunn’s Aston was all over the BMW of Auberlen. This duo were over half a minute clear of Mapelli’s Lamborghini.
However, Auberlen suddenly pulled off line at Turn 6, Foley revealing to IMSA Radio that the BMW M6’s gearbox had let go.
That eased the issues of anyone struggling for fuel. Westphal and Heistand delivered victory for the Carbahn with Peregrine Racing entry without issue, ahead of Gunn in the Aston Martin and Mapelli of Grasser Racing, Miller’s Gradient Acura, and the two VSR Lexus RC Fs managed to salvage fifth and sixth.
UPDATE: Post-race, the Carbahn with Peregrine Racing Audi was stripped of its victory for undercutting the minimum refuelling time as set out by the GTD Balance of performance.
With Westphal and Heistand therefore moved to the rear of the class, it means Heart of Racing Aston pair Gunn and de Angelis inherit the win, with the Grasser Racing Lamborghini moving up to second and the Gradient Racing Acura taking the final spot on the podium.