2016 Rolex 24 rolling updates

Photo: IMSA
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DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – We’ll have updates as needed from the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona, below.

11:49 a.m. ET (end of Hour 21):

  • Tequila Patron ESM’s hopes have been dented with a drive through penalty for speeding. Johannes van Overbeek was driving.
  • A rear axle issue has sent the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to the garage for repairs, and the car lost five laps.
  • Kyle Larson just stuffed the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford in the West Horseshoe. The car was delayed anyway but this will officially end the repeat hopes for Larson, Jamie McMurray, Scott Dixon and Tony Kanaan.
  • As they have been, GTLM and GTD have been too close to follow for the majority of the race.

10:18 a.m. ET (middle of Hour 20):

  • It’s time to play crunch the numbers and it relates to maximum drive time, which if you remember, bit Wayne Taylor Racing last year when they had to make a last minute driver change and cost themselves a better result. Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani was placed in the team’s Ligier JS P2 Honda starting at 17:01 into the race, and ran til 19:18. This means that up to 23:01, he can only run a maximum of four in six hours. If you take the six hour block from 18:00, with six to go until the finish, Derani has run 78 minutes – meaning he can run 161 minutes (two hours, 41 minutes) of the remaining distance in order to bring the car home and not exceed the max drive time. How ESM plays its driver strategy will be key to determine whether they pull off the win.

9:40 a.m. ET (end of Hour 19):

  • There’s now five hours to go. I made it til 5 a.m. before passing out, and now am in need of some coffee.
  • Prototype has shaped up as a battle of the Tequila Patron ESM Ligier Honda versus an armada of Daytona Prototypes. The Ligier is faster and lighter on its tires, the Corvette DPs heavier and quicker on restarts.
  • Jordan Taylor drove after saying he wouldn’t during the Magnus Racing live web stream beyond his earlier single stint.
  • GTLM is a several horse race between Corvette, BMW, Porsche and Ferrari – still – although the No. 911 Porsche and No. 72 Ferrari have just gone to the garage.
  • GTD is also a several horse race between Porsche, Audi, BMW, Dodge and Aston Martin.
  • Also, this happened:

3:25 a.m. ET (just prior to end of Hour 13):

  • I’m still awake, the race is past the halfway mark and the Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda is back in the lead, now back in the hands of Pipo Derani. Other Hour 12 class leaders, and top Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup points recipients: Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE (GTLM), Nicholas Boulle in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca FLM09 (PC) and Alex Riberas in the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R (GTD).
  • There have been 15 full-course cautions, the most recent of which was an accident for Lucas Luhr in the No. 100 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM. Luhr had an apparent parts failure that launched him across the road and into the Turn 6 wall. He got out of his car unscathed after what looked like heavy impact.

1:15 a.m. ET (middle of Hour 11):

  • I can’t believe this just happened, but it did. The two leading Lamborghini Huracán GT3s in the GT Daytona class have crashed into each other. Bryce Miller and Justin Marks collided on the run down to Turn 1, which took the Paul Miller and Change Racing Lamborghinis out of play. It’s promoted Shane van Gisbergen, in the WeatherTech Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, to the GTD class lead.
  • The retirement list grows further with the No. 88 Starworks PC car now done, with tub damage, per IMSA Radio. The No. 88 car joins the Shank, CORE, DeltaWing and No. 70 Mazda cars as official retirements.

12:40 a.m. ET (end of Hour 10):

  • Michael Shank Racing’s win hopes have ended in the tenth hour. Team principal Shank told IMSA Radio the team’s Ligier JS P2 Honda has stopped on course with either engine or gearbox problems, and have worked to diagnose the issue. It took Ozz Negri out of the lead and following Honda confirmation, the car has been retired from the race.

10:45 p.m. ET (end of Hour 8):

  • The DeltaWing is out, as is the No. 70 Mazda and No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09.
  • The No. 88 Starworks Motorsport car had an off at the Bus Stop with Mark Kvamme driving. It marked that car’s second incident, after it had also hit the wall exiting the pits when Sean Johnston behind the wheel.
  • Change Racing briefly led at the eight-hour mark with Spencer Pumpelly bringing the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 from the rear of the field to the front. The Lamborghinis have had a distinguishable pace edge most of the race in GT Daytona.
  • The remaining Mazda, in the hands of Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires champion Spencer Pigot, had an ECU change and lost two laps when Pigot took over from Jonathan Bomarito. The team has picked up at least one of those laps via a wave around.
  • AJ Allmendinger needed a pee break. “I really had to go to the bathroom. I had to pee. I told Shank I needed to get out. I didn’t want to piss in the seat in front of Ozz. I didn’t ask to get out but when he said driver change I was happy,” he said during his media availability.

6:45 p.m. ET (end of Hour 4): 

  • The DeltaWing has suffered a major hit in a bizarre accident. The No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 of Chris Cumming was stopped and stalled in the middle of Turn 1, then hit by an oncoming Andy Meyrick, which launched the Prototype Challenge car into the air. Meyrick got out of the car and Cumming reported to his team he was OK. But it marks the first major accident of the race.

5:45 p.m. ET (end of Hour 3): 

  • Katherine Legge and Stephen Simpson have been the early stars of the race in P and PC. Legge has handed off the DeltaWing to Andy Meyrick, who incidentally, is wearing one of Sean Rayhall’s helmets. Chris Miller takes over the JDC/Miller Motorsports entry.
  • Simpson, who was leading the spec category by 54 seconds before pitting, maintained his usual humility: “I don’t know if it is the same because I have the JDC/Miller Motorsports guys tuning it and making so good. I just got in and drove the car,” he told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam after the end of his three-hour stint.
  • Electrical issues have taken the prior GTD class leading No. 11 O’Gara Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán GT3 behind the wall. Prior to that, Townsend Bell was leading. His thoughts justprior:  “So far, so good. Got a great start and just kind of settled in. As usual, it’s fascinating on the opening stint because there’s the guys that are driving with a 20-minutes mentality and the guys driving with a 24-hour mentality. It’s a brand new team, brand new car. Everybody has experience but not much experience working together. That’s kind of fun to see where we’ve started to where we’ve come, just in the first stint. To have a little bit of success in the first stint is just a confidence builder.”
  • It’s been a tough race for Flying Lizard Motorsports, which partners with Krohn Racing this race and sees the No. 45 Audi R8 LMS ultra – the previous generation car – adorned in Krohn Green. But contact from another prototype damaged the front splitter, with the crew working to get the car repaired.
  • Dane Cameron has driven like a bulldog in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP to get that car into the overall lead.

5:00 p.m. ET (end of Hour 2, into Hour 3):

  • The second Ford GT, the No. 66 car driven by Joey Hand, stopped on track to bring out the second full-course caution. Brake line issues were reported and upon the car’s return it stopped. After checks by the team, it continues…
  • The pair of Ligier JS P2 Hondas crashed into each other, as John Pew appeared to misjudge his braking point and contacted Johannes van Overbeek.
  • Joao Barbosa went on-and-off at the first hairpin, but resumed.
  • Bill Auberlen did yeoman’s work to bring the No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM around to the pits after an apparent puncture on the right rear. The race remained green.
  • Scott Dixon brought the No. 02 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford to the lead overall, with the same cars – the No. 85 JDC/Miller Oreca FLM09, No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR, and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 continuing to lead in PC, GTLM and GTD.

3:45 p.m. ET (end of Hour 1): We’re past the first hour of the 2016 Rolex 24.

Key notes:

  • Katherine Legge is leading overall in the DeltaWing, with a last-to-first run in the Prototype class. The team opted not to qualify, citing the terrible conditions.
  • Other class leaders were Stephen Simpson (PC, No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports), Nick Tandy (GTLM, No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR) and Bryce Miller (GTD, No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3).
  • The No. 67 Ford GT went behind the wall for about 25 minutes and lost nearly 20 laps with gearbox issues. Ryan Briscoe started the car.
  • The No. 70 Mazda stopped on track to cause the race’s first full-course yellow. Tom Long was driving.
  • Several GTD cars got penalized following the first pit stop sequence. Meanwhile, the Lamborghinis were flying.

Ford Mustang GT3 test has Austin Cindric dreaming of Daytona: ‘I want to drive that car’

Cindric Ford GT3 test
Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

Austin Cindric wasn’t the “mystery” test driver behind the wheel of the new Ford Mustang GT3 at Sebring International Raceway, but the Team Penske driver desperately wanted to be.

Ford CEO Jim Farley, an amateur sports car driver himself, made the big reveal via a Tuesday tweet that provided the first video evidence of the GT3 Mustang on track.

“I’ve watched the video in question about a million times,” Cindric said Wednesday during a Ford Performance Zoom news conference to promote NASCAR’s first road course weekend of the season at Circuit of the Americas. “Definitely exciting times for sure. I want to drive that car. It suits my experience level and also the relationships that I have.”

Ford will enter the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship next season with its GT3 Mustang, entering a two-car factory effort (that will be managed by Multimatic) in GTD Pro and making customer cars available in the GT Daytona category.

That increases the likelihood of seeing more NASCAR drivers crossing over to IMSA. Cindric has been the only full-time Cup driver in the Rolex 24 at Daytona the past two years, but Ford Performance global director Mark Rushbrook has said the GT3 Mustang will provide more opportunities.

Ford has used its GT4 Mustang as a NASCAR driver development tool in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge with Harrison Burton and Zane Smith combining to win the season opener at Daytona International Speedway in January.

“We’re excited about the Next Gen car and the new architecture there and the similarities between that car and GT3 and even GT4 cars,” Rushbrook said at the announcement of the Ford GT3 program in January 2022 at Daytona. “We think it’s a great opportunity and to do be able to do that in a 24-hour race and get NASCAR drivers even more time is something we need to consider taking advantage of that opportunity.”

Given his sports car background, Cindric probably still would be in the Rolex 24 regardless. He has eight IMSA starts since the 2017 season opener at Daytona, racing a Lexus RCF GT3 and Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the GT category. The 2022 Daytona 500 winner made his second LMP2 start this year with Rick Ware Racing.

But Cindric’s preference naturally would be in a Ford, particularly with sports car racing enjoying convergence and crossovers in both GT and prototype racing.

“It’s an exciting time in GT racing, just as it is now for prototype racing with a lot of new regulations and manufacturers building new GT3 cars,” he said. “And also the opportunity with WEC (the World Endurance Championship) and Le Mans and how that all lines up for that category of car. It’s definitely an exciting time. I want to be as much of a part of that as possible.”

Though those odds seemingly will increase with multiple Ford entries in the Rolex 24 field next year, Cindric said NASCAR drivers still have to put in the networking to land rides as he has in recent years.

“Now how (the GT3 Mustang) relates to specifically NASCAR drivers and how often they want to be in the Rolex, could it be an influence? Absolutely, as far as the tie-in with the manufacturer,” Cindric said. “But the challenge and the drive and the logistics of getting an opportunity for a race like the Rolex 24 will be just as challenging as it always is to find your one-off ride for the race. At least from my experience, that’s what I still anticipate.”

It turned out the “mystery” test driver wasn’t from NASCAR (Farley revealed the driver to be 24 Hours of Le Mans winner Joey Hand after a fan asked whether it was Joey Logano).

But Cindric believes there could be more Cup drivers — and perhaps himself — behind the wheel of Mustang GT3s in the future.

“There’s definitely more of a pathway than I think there would be before as far as Ford drivers are concerned,” he said. “Hopefully, I’ll get the opportunity to drive that thing. It’s obviously a great looking car. That’s the first box you’ve got to check. And it’s cool (to have) a guy like Jim Farley, no doubt he’s a racer just as much as he is steering the ship for Ford. It’s cool to see he’s just as excited as the rest of us about it.”