Through one-quarter of the Rolex 24 at Daytona, it has been all Cadillac, all the time. The three Cadillac DPi-V.R.’s have been fast all weekend, but they appear to have kicked it up a notch for the race.
All three of the Cadillacs have turned laps faster than Joao Barbosa‘s overall pole-winning time from Thursday afternoon. No one else can realistically match their pace. The fastest of the non-Cadillacs has consistently been the No. 13 ORECA 07-Gibson from REBELLION Racing. However, an issue earlier in the race has the No. 13 ninth in the Prototype class, ten laps down in 20th overall.
The three Cadillacs have traded the lead back and forth through the first six hours with Jeff Gordon starting his first stint in the car up front. Unfortunately, he started it in the middle of a scrum, made contact with the No. 70 Mazda and lost his advantage just that quickly. Despite that, Gordon enjoyed his time in the car, stating that he thought his first stint was really good after the restart.
The sixth hour brought rain to Daytona during the fifth full course yellow. Jordan Taylor chose not to take rain tires while Filipe Albuquerque and Mike Conway did. While Taylor was able to get away on the next restart, conditions deteriorated to the point where he was forced to pit for rain tires.
At the six hour mark, Action Express Racing’s Albuquerque was leading overall in the No. 5 Cadillac by 8.429 seconds over Conway. Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jordan Taylor was leading until he made a stop to change to rain tires. As a result, Taylor is now third. The three Cadillacs are the only prototypes on the lead lap. One lap down is Bruno Senna in the No. 22 Nissan DPi for Tequila Patron ESM, while Marc Goossens is fifth in the Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30-Gibson.
Prototype Challenge has been marked by troubles for the Starworks Motorsport team. Both of their cars were in the garage at the six hour mark due to separate crashes. The No. 8 with John Falb at the wheel crashed with the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Matt McMurry to bring out the third full course caution.
While the No. 73 retired on the spot, the team embarked on extensive repairs on the rear end of the No. 8. The car is now back out on the track.
The No. 88 of James Dayson was pitched into the wall when the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R. of Eric Curran tried an incredibly optimistic move to the outside in turn 1 of the tri-oval. Contact was mad in Dayson’s right rear, pitching the IMSA Prototype Lites veteran into the wall.
At six hours, Patricio O’Ward led the class in the No. 38 ORECA FLM09-Chevrolet of Performance Tech Motorsports. He had a three lap advantage over Buddy Rice in the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsports entry. The No. 26 of Johnny Mowlem is another two laps back.
In GT Le Mans, the Ford teams have kept up their pace from earlier in the weekend, but they have been hurried by both Risi Competizione with the lone Ferrari 488 GTE and Porsche North America. The No. 911 Porsche has kept itself up in contention despite multiple cut tires.
For BMW Team RLL, the weekend has been a struggle for the most part. The M6 GTLM’s have not shown a lot of outright pace, having qualified at the back of the class. In the race, the No. 24 got stuck in gear during the first hour and had to be pushed to the garage. After substantial repairs, the car was retired from the race and will finish 55th overall. Meanwhile, the No. 19 Art Car has plugged along.
As of 8:30 p.m., Porsche North America’s Patrick Pilet led GTLM and was posted in eighth overall. He had only a 1.492 second lead over Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Dirk Müller. BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen was third in the lone remaining M6 GTLM, followed by Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Kevin Estré is fifth in the No. 912 Porsche.
In GT Daytona, the big story was the debut of the new cars from Lexus and Acura. It’s been a mixed bag for both teams. For Lexus, the No. 14 entry is already out of the race after Scott Pruett crashed in the second hour.
Meanwhile, the No. 15 entry has been quite steady, keeping themselves out of trouble and making a great showing. For Acura’s effort with Michael Shank Racing, both cars have run well. The No. 93 has been the stronger of the NSX’s with Mark Wilkins actually leading the class at one point. After six hours, the No. 93 was in 12th while the No. 86 was in eighth.
WeatherTech Racing’s Shane van Gisbergen led at the six hour mark despite some troubles with the wet weather. He had less than a second on Scuderia Corsa’s Sam Bird in what has been a great battle. Alex Job Racing’s Pierre Kaffer was third despite teammate Townsend Bell committing a wave-by violation and being given a stop + 3:30 penalty earlier in the race. Turner Motorsport’s Jesse Krohn was fourth and 3GT Racing’s Jack Hawksworth was fifth in the sole remaining Lexus.
Retirements: 14-3GT Racing (Crash), 24-BMW Team RLL (Gearbox), 51-Spirit of Race (Mechanical), 59-Manthey Racing (Mechanical), 73-Park Place Motorsports (Crash)