TUSC: Rolex 24 Race Updates, Hours 1-12

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UPDATE (2:15 a.m. ET): We’ll start this update with further news on GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing driver Memo Gidley. The team recently tweeted that he’s undergone surgery on his left arm and left leg and remains under observation at Halifax Health Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

As for the other driver involved in today’s violent third-hour accident, Risi Competizione’s Matteo Malucelli, no further word has been given on his condition outside of IMSA’s previous confirmation that he, along with Gidley, was “awake and communicating.” Of course, when we do receive an update, we’ll let you know.

Meanwhile, the Rolex 24 has crossed the halfway point with the twin Action Express Racing Corvette DP machines fighting it out with the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost for overall supremacy.

Ganassi’s sister car, the No. 01, has fallen 32 laps off the pace following repairs for damage to the right-front portion of the car. MRN Radio reported that driver Scott Pruett had something break on the car and then slammed into the outside wall while he was exiting the backstretch “bus stop” chicane.

Pruett was seeking to earn a record sixth Rolex 24 triumph, but it appears he’ll have to wait until 2015 to break that tie with fellow sports car legend Hurley Haywood.

Christian Fittipaldi, driving the No. 5 Action Express machine, gave up the lead to pit under green just before the 12-hour mark, handing the lead to Scott Dixon in the Ganassi No. 02. Tony Kanaan is slated to take over for Dixon at the next opportunity. The other Action Express machine, the No. 9 of Burt Frisselle, was second.

Also leading at 12 hours were Porsche North America’s No. 911 and 912 in GTLM, CORE autosport’s No. 54 in PC, and Level 5 Motorsports’ No. 555 Ferrari in GTD.

UPDATE (12:45 a.m. ET): It’s past midnight, but it’s not quite the 12-hour mark yet. Since we last checked in…

Sebastien Bourdais called some of the gentlemen drivers “terrorists” when it came to lapping them.

Scott Dixon is hunting down Joao Barbosa like a scalded cat.

Both SRT Vipers had issues that took them out of contention.

And RSR Racing’s No. 09 and Starworks Motorsport’s No. 78 have reached the end of the road.

Otherwise, it’s still rolling here in Daytona.

UPDATE (10:10 p.m. ET): It’s 10:10 p.m. in Daytona, and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP leads overall. It’s in the hands of the young man with the mullet, Jordan Taylor.

Other class leaders are the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR (GTLM), No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA FLM09 (PC) and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 (GTD).

More than eight hours are in the books, officially one third of the 24-hour race. It’s dark, it’s cool, there’s been a number of contact incidents and a handful of yellow flags.

The top eight overall and prototypes and top seven in GTLM are all still on the same lap. The PC and GTD classes are a little more spread out.

UPDATE (9:02 p.m. ET): James Sofronas has been released from the infield care center after having the entire front end of his No. 32 GMG Racing Audi R8 ripped off in a multi-car incident that also caused then-race leader Max Angelelli to spin while avoiding the debris.

Sofronas appeared to be turned into the wall that separates pit road from the track in the infield section. Shortly after safety teams arrived on the scene, he climbed out of the wrecked Audi under his own power.

Angelelli managed to come through unscathed despite his spin, but wound up losing the lead. He has now been replaced in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP by Jordan Taylor, his 2013 GRAND-AM championship partner.

Mike Rockenfeller currently leads overall in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP. Other class leaders are the No. 3 Corvette (GTLM), No. 8 Starworks ORECA (PC), and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi (GTD).

UPDATE (8:42 p.m. ET): IMSA has confirmed that Memo Gidley and Matteo Matucelli, the two drivers involved in this afternoon’s horrific accident during the third hour, are “awake and communicating and undergoing further observation” according to a tweet from its official account. IMSA adds that they will have more updates as they become available.

UPDATE (8:24 p.m. ET): NASCAR Sprint Cup rookie Kyle Larson and four-time Champ Car World Series champion Sebastien Bourdais have taken control of two of the top contending cars in this year’s Rolex 24 at Daytona. However, Larson has had an inauspicious start to his sports car racing debut in the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost.

Before the six-hour mark, Larson took over for 2013 Indianapolis 500 winner Tony Kanaan, who had been running second overall. But right after getting into the car, Larson got popped for speeding on pit road and had to come back to serve a stop-and-go penalty.

Shortly after that episode, the caution came out for debris with Larson having fallen to eighth while Bourdais was up to second in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP behind new leader Max Angelelli in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Before the yellow had come out, Angelelli had leapfrogged the AXR No. 5 in the pits while Christian Fittipaldi was making way for Bourdais.

After the green flag came out with 17 hours, 57 minutes remaining, Bourdais was dispatched by another IndyCar driver, Justin Wilson, now the current runner-up in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Riley/Ford Ecoboost.

Another NASCAR driver, veteran Jamie McMurray, has entered Ganassi’s No. 01 sister car to take over for Memo Rojas. Fox Sports reported that McMurray will be in the No. 01 for a triple stint.

Other class leaders include the No. 93 SRT Viper in GTLM, the No. 8 Starworks ORECA in PC, and the No. 555 Level 5 Motorsports Ferrari.

UPDATE (7:15 p.m. ET): Back under yellow past the five-hour mark for an incident involving the No. 09 RSR Racing PC car, which stopped off course. The former class-leading No. 08, in the hands of Alex Tagliani, Conor Daly, Chris Cumming and Rusty Mitchell, was assessed a controversial three-and-a-half minute penalty for what was deemed an illegal pass-around. Wayne Taylor’s done his stint aboard his own No. 10 Corvette DP; Max Angelelli has climbed aboard that car. Class leaders are Action Express Racing (No. 5, Corvette DP, P); SRT Motorsports (No. 91, SRT Viper GTS-R, GTLM); Starworks Motorsport (No. 7, ORECA FLM09, PC); and Level 5 Motorsports (No. 555, Ferrari 458 Italia GT3, GTD).

UPDATE (6:27 p.m. ET): Green-flag conditions have resumed in the Rolex 24 at Daytona after a short period of running under the yellow flag. An official update has not yet come in on Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli, both confirmed by IMSA to have been transported to Halifax.

UPDATE (5:34 p.m. ET): Multiple reports from Daytona state that both Memo Gidley and Matteo Malucelli are being transferred to nearby Halifax Health Medical Center, skipping the at-track medical center. Their conditions remain undisclosed at this time.

UPDATE (5:17 p.m. ET): A vicious accident involving the oncoming Memo Gidley in the pole-sitting No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette DP and a slowing Matteo Malucelli in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia has marred the third hour of racing at the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The incident took place near the kink in the infield section of the road course and has brought out the red flag, stopping the race.

Safety crews are now on the scene at this time, with Fox Sports reporting that Malucelli has been removed from his car and put into an ambulance. Fox also relayed word of a conversation between Malucelli and a Risi Competizione team member, in which Malucelli said he had lost all engine power and was slowing down.

No word has been given on the condition of either Malucelli or Gidley. As soon as we get it, we’ll pass it along to you.

START, 3:30 p.m. ET: The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is officially underway. One accident, for the GTD class No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsport Audi R8 driven by Charlie Putman, brought out the first yellow flag. Despite heavy contact from an apparent tire issue, Putman emerged out of his car OK.

GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing’s polesitting No. 99 Corvette DP, started by Alex Gurney, led the majority of the opening hour overall. Other class leaders included RSR Racing (No. 09) and Starworks Motorsport (No. 8) in PC, the SRT Vipers (No. 93 and 91) in GTLM and a Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 (No. 48) and SMP/ESM Racing Ferrari 458 GT3 (No. 72) in GTD.

But at the one-hour mark, Action Express Racing (No. 5 Corvette DP) led overall with Joao Barbosa driving before the car needed to serve a drive-through penalty. SRT’s No. 93 (GTLM), Starworks’ sister No. 7 PC and the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America (GTD) were other class leaders.

The big mover was Starworks’ DP driver Brendon Hartley, who advanced as high as second overall in the No. 78 Dinan Riley after starting 64th overall.

Michael Andretti looking forward to new Australian Supercars venture

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If it seems like Michael Andretti is out to conquer the world, he is – kind of.

The former IndyCar star turned prolific team owner has won three of the last four Indianapolis 500s and five overall, second only to Roger Penske’s 16 Indy 500 triumphs.

Along the way, in addition to expanding his own IndyCar and Indy Lights operation, the son of Mario Andretti and the primary shareholder of Andretti Autosport has also branched out into Global RallyCross and Formula E racing in recent years.

And now, Andretti has further expanded his brand internationally, following Penske to the world down under — as in the world of Australian V8 Supercars.

Andretti has teamed with Supercars team owner Ryan Walkinshaw, along with veteran motorsports marketer and executive director of McLaren Technology Group and United Autosports owner and chairman, Zak Brown.

Together, the three have formed Walkinshaw Andretti United, based in suburban Melbourne, Australia. The new team kicks off the new season with the Adelaide 500 from March 1-4.

“It’s just extending our brand and putting it out there,” Andretti told NBC Sports. “The Supercars are such a great series.

“It all started with Zach Brown calling me and said ‘You have to talk to Ryan Walkinshaw. He’s got something interesting to talk to you about.’

“We talked and literally in like a half-hour, we said, ‘Let’s figure out how we’re going to make this work.’ And then Zack was like, ‘Hey, what about me?’ And then Zack came in as a partner and it’s cool now that we have the Walkinshaw Andretti United team.

“I’m really excited about that program, the guys at the shop are excited about it, we’ve been doing a lot of things to try and help it because it’s such a cool series and the cars are so cool.

“I went down there to Bathurst, which was to me one of the coolest tracks in the world. I wish I could have driven it, I really do. It looks like a blast.

“It’s amazing how big that series is when you go down there. It’s one of the biggest sports in Australia. It was just a great opportunity for us to extend our portfolio.”

Admittedly, Andretti had some extra incentive to want to get involved in the Supercars world: Penske joined forces with legendary Dick Johnson Racing in September 2014.

The organization came together quickly and the rebranded DJR Team Penske went on to win the 2017 V8 Supercars championship.

“Roger was down there the last few years,” Andretti said, adding that fact as incentive to get his own organization into the series. “So it’s cool to go race head-to-head with Roger. That was also in the back of our minds.”

This is no start-up venture for Andretti. The roots of the new venture began in 1990 as the Holden Racing Team, which went on to become one of the most successful organizations in Australian V8 Supercar racing, having won the drivers’ championship six times and the Virgin Australia Supercars Championship’s top race, the Bathurst 1000 (essentially Australia’s version of the Indy 500), seven times.

Last season, Holden Racing team morphed into Triple Eight Race Engineering and was renamed Mobil 1 HSV Racing.

And now the company has been renamed once again for the 2018 campaign under the Walkinshaw Andretti United banner.

The team will be composed of two Holden ZB Commodores with drivers James Courtney and Scott Pye, as well as a Porsche 911 GT3-R in the Australian GT championship.

What’s next for Andretti’s motorsports portfolio? Right now, it’s pretty full, but you can bet running for championships from Australia (Supercars) to globally (GRC) to Indianapolis (Indy 500) to the U.S. (Verizon IndyCar Series) are at the top of this year’s list.