The pre-race favorite, the #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac has been running three laps down since as early as Lap 24. Trying to pass the similar #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac of Renger van der Zande as they both attempted to lap the GTD-class Heart of Racing Aston Martin into Turn 17, Derani found himself squeezed into the wall as the GT car turned in while they ran three abreast. Derani immediately pitted to repair his front suspension. No action was taken by Race Control, as it was perceived as a racing accident – not a view shared by either AXR nor by van der Zande.
That left Van der Zande out front by five seconds ahead of Ricky Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05, Olivier Pla third in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura a further 10sec down, and under a little pressure from Oliver Jarvis in the Mazda RT24-P.
Simon Pagenaud took over the #48 Ally AXR Cadillac from Jimmie Johnson who had collided with the JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac in the opening quarter-hour, leaving Loic Duval only just on the lead lap. Pagenaud proved there was no damage to the #48 Cadillac by setting fastest lap, a new lap record for DPi cars.
When van der Zande handed over the leading #01 CGR Cadillac to Kevin Magnussen, the ex-Formula 1 driver got caught up in GT traffic, allowing Taylor to close in and take the lead on the 49th lap, and pull out a 3.5sec advantage. That advantage bloomed to a dozen seconds over the next 30 laps, before WTR swapped out Taylor for Filipe Albuquerque. Magnussen remained 10sec clear of Dane Cameron who had replaced Pla in the MSR Acura. Then he started to charge, and drew to within a second of the leader before handing off to Scott Dixon who is now resuming the hunt of the WTR Cadillac
Pagenaud emerged ahead of the Mazda, driven by Jonathan Bomarito, to claim fourth following the third round of pitstops, and Bomarito has now ceded his seat to Harry Tincknell. Pagenaud’s progress continued, and he has now taken third from erstwhile teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who has taken over the MSR Acura.
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ben Keating recovered from his penalty at the start of the race to close in on erstwhile LMP2 leader Steven Thomas of WIN Autosport and hit the front at the 70min mark, his 34th lap. These two cars continued battling hard, but Thomas Merrill took over the WIN Autosport car and pulled away before giving the car to Tristan Nunez.
Antonio Garcia continued out front of the GT Le Mans field in the #3 Corvette C8.R, staving off the challenge of the two BMW M8s of Connor De Phillippi and Jesse Krohn, while Mathieu Jaminet took over the Porsche 911 RSR of WeatherTech Racing to run fourth in class. However, that became third when Krohn served a drive-through penalty for shoving a GTD Porsche off the track on a straight, before handing off to Augusto Farfus.
Currently Garcia’s co-driver Jordan Taylor heads GTLM, with Bruno Spengler in the second-placed BMW, while Matt Campbell steers the WeatherTech Porsche.
The second Corvette of Tommy Milner not only received a drive-through penalty for changing lanes at the start, but also suffered technical issues that required an electronic reset, and left him a minute off the class lead. Nick Tandy is currently driving that car but is a lap down.
Rasmus Lindh of Performance Tech Motorsports headed LMP3, ahead of Oliver Askew in the Forty7 Motorsports machine, which had to serve a drive-through penalty at the start for being late to the grid line-up, but Dylan Murry in the #91 Riley Motorsports car currently tops the class ahead of Austin McCusker who has taken over from Askew.
Kyle Kirkwood led the GT Daytona class for Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus while, thanks to the early yellow, Wright Motorsports quickly recovered from the startline penalty for Jan Heylen. After the first round of scheduled stops, Trent Hindman – subbing for Wright’s usual fulltimer in the #16 Porsche 911 GT3R, Ryan Hardwick – was running second ahead of Austin Read in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6, Bryan Sellers in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan, Robert Megennis in the second Lexus, and Lars Kern in the Pfaff Motorsports Porsche.
Also making strong progress was Tim Zimmermann, who should have started from GTD pole but was sent to the back for his Grasser Racing Lamborghini carrying a wifi hotspot. After 90mins, he was up into seventh in the 13-car class.
That became sixth when Turner Motorsports had to drag the M6 back to the paddock to fix an electrical gremlin.
Pat Long took over from Hindman and pressured Kirkwood into a slight error at Turn 16 to grab the lead, although Kirkwood stayed in close attendance. Lars Kern is currently third, ahead of Ross Gunn in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin, with Megennis fifth, and Billy Johnson sixth in the Alegra Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3.