Polesitter Pipo Derani took the Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R straight into the lead but Renger van der Zande sent the similar car of Chip Ganassi Racing into second, ahead of the Acura ARX-05 of his former employer, Wayne Taylor Racing. On Lap 7, Van der Zande was into the lead as the pair hit traffic.
Behind this trio, Olivier Pla in the Meyer Shank Racing surged past the Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis, while Jimmie Johnson in the second AXR Caddy – running a new tub after yesterday’s shunt – passed Loic Duval’s similar JDC-Miller Motorsports machine, but spun after contact between the two at the end of Lap 6, damaging the right front and immediately ducked into the pits for a new nose.
The subsequent full course yellow to gather up debris bunched the field, but the pits did not open.
Steven Thomas in the WIN Autosport LMP2 Oreca had a relatively unchallenged start as fellow front-row starter Ben Keating hadn’t made it out to the grid line-up in time so had to not only start from pitlane, but also pit for a drive-through penalty.
The same applied to the second fastest LMP3 car, Oliver Askew in the Forty7 Motorsport machine, allowing polesitter Rasmus Lindh to escape, pulling 15sec clear of his nearest opposition.
Antonio Garcia’s GTLM pole-winning #3 Corvette C8.R pulled a slight lead at the start, but Connor De Phillippi jumped the second Corvette of Tommy Milner to grab second, and further around the lap the second BMW of Jesse Krohn was into third.
To add insult to injury, Milner had to serve a drive-through penalty for changing lanes at the start, allowing Cooper MacNeil in the WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR into fourth.
Jan Heylen, GT Daytona polesitter in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R was also pinged for changing lanes at the start and tumbled to the back of the field after his drive-through, allowing the two Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC Fs of Aaron Telitz and Frankie Montecalvo into first and second, ahead of the Alegra Motorsports Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 of Daniel Morad, Robby Foley in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 and Madison Snow in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan.