IndyCar aces Bourdais and Dixon put on a fascinating battle for the lead soon after they took over their Cadillacs from Tristan Vautier and Kevin Magnussen respectively, in the fifth hour.
Finally, just before the start of the sixth hour, Dixon slipped into the lead and Bourdais pitted the Mustang Sampling car. Dixon went a couple laps longer but resumed behind his rival, and remained there, not able to get the deficit beneath 7sec. Following another round of stops, Bourdais’ advantage was out to 15sec. Dixon has now whittled that down to 10sec.
Their battle didn’t appear to hold them up, as Dixon pulled half a minute clear of the Ally Action Express Racing #48 Cadillac then driven by Mike Rockenfeller, and the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05, driven by Helio Castroneves who suffered an overly long stop.
Jonathan Bomarito ran fifth in the Mazda RT24-P, but the other two cars in the fastest class hit trouble in the fifth hour. Chase Elliott believed he hit a curb too hard and so the #31 AXR Cadillac was brought in early and off-sequence to put Mike Conway in the car.
Then the car returned to the pits for a further checkup for possible damage and resumed 66sec down on the leaders before AXR pitted for a ninth time to install Pipo Derani in the driver seat. Derani eventually demoted Bomarito to sixth, and the Mazda driver pitted to hand over to Oliver Jarvis.
Olivier Pla in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura had a coming together with a BMW and spun, before handing off to Juan Pablo Montoya who was left running seventh.
In LMP2, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports went behind the wall with a bad misfire and fell seven laps off the class lead. That left the battle for victory between DragonSpeed’s #82 car, WIN Autosport, Tower Motorsport by Starworks, Cetilar Racing – the lone Dallara runner in the class – Era Motorsport and RWR Eurasia.
In LMP3, Scott Andrews’ Riley Motorsports has a one-lap advantage over the Sean Creech Motorsports car which was rudely punted into a spin by a GT car, while Muehlner Motorsports and CORE autosport run a further lap down.
Alexander Sims and Nicky Catsburg have carried on the good work by the fulltime Corvette pairings, Tommy Milner/Nick Tandy and Antonio Garcia/Jordan Taylor, and the C8.Rs ran well over a minute clear of their nearest rival, the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488.
The Italian car was being chased by the two BMW M8s until Jules Gounon pitted and handed over to Alessandro Pier Guidi.
Just before the 5hr30min mark, Sims fell off the road at the International Horseshoe, and after they’d both made pitstops, he was behind Catsburg but repassed him not long before the six hours was up. Connor De Phillippi and Marco Wittmann currently run third and fourth in class in the BMWs, ahead of the Risi Ferrari.
A key runner in the GT Daytona class, the #111 Grasser Racing Lamborghini was plagued by electrical gremlins and is over 30 laps from the class lead.
This remains an exciting affair – as ever in GTD – with Klaus Bachler leading for Wright Motorsports, ahead of Paul Miller Racing’s Lamborghini Huracan, Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin, Indy Dontje in the Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3 and Luca Stolz in the Sun Energy Mercedes all covered by just 10sec.
Oliver Gavin in the #14 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F was also in the hunt until getting pinged by Race Control for speeding on pitlane.
Turner Motorsport also received a penalty after an alarming incident in which the BMW M6 was sent out while the fuel hose was still attached. Fortunately, no team members were hurt although Bill Auberlen was sprayed by fuel.
But with three quarters of the race still to go, both penalized teams have plenty of time to catch back up.