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The Rolex 24 at Daytona is 17 hours in, with seven hours remaining, and the overnight hours saw a major shift in fortunes for some heavy hitters.
Currently, Christian Fittipaldi leads overall in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi, with teammate Mike Conway running second in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac, making it an Action Express Racing 1-2 as the race enters its final seven hours.
The class leaders for Prototype, GTLM and GTD are below.
No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, Christian Fittipaldi
No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi, Mike Conway
No. 32 United Autosports Ligier LMP2, Hugo de Sadeleer
No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Richard Westbrook
No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Joey Hand
No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, Antonio Garcia
No. 48 Paul Miller Racing, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Andrea Caldarelli
No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, Katherine Legge
No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3, Adam Christodoulou
Below is a report on notable happenings from the overnight hours.
Troubles for Acura Team Penske
Both of the Acura Team Penske ARX-o5s have hit major problems after running in the top five. The No. 6 machine was the first Penske entry to be bitten as Dane Cameron brought the car back to the garage with an alternator problem.
The car did return to the race, but sits 24 laps down to the race leader.
The sister No. 7 entry, with Helio Castroneves behind the wheel, was running a strong second, the only other car on the same lap as the leader, but contact with the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac did significant damage to the car, forcing Castroneves to take it behind the wall.
Both cars currently running outside the top ten in the Prototype class, 11th for No. 7 (13th overall) and 12th for No. 6 (15th overall) and are down 23 laps and 24 laps to the leader.
Alonso, United Autosports Suffer Brake Problems
While the No. 32 Ligier from United Autosports sits a strong third, the sister No. 23 Ligier encountered major brake problems overnight. Fernando Alonso was forced to bring the car in for an unscheduled pit stop after initially reporting the issue, with the team eventually going behind the wall for repairs.
The car, with Alonso back behind the wheel, sits 26 laps off the lead in 13th (17th overall).
Tequila Patron ESM, Spirit of Daytona Both Out
A couple of strong dark horses in Prototype suffered major mechanical problems overnight that forced them to retire from the race.
The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac, which led early and was running strongly among the frontrunners, suffered an engine problem that forced them to the garage. A short time later, the team announced they would be unable to continue, citing a misfire.
Similarly, both of the Tequila Patron ESM entries were running strong, marching their way forward after both cars started at the back of the Prototype class. But, both cars suffered terminal mechanical problems, a gearbox failure on the No. 2 and an engine problem on the No. 22, and both retired in the early morning hours.
Fords Dominating GTLM
The Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing have dominated the GTLM running so far, leading much of the way since the race began. Both cars sit 1-2 at the time of writing, with the No. 67 of Richard Westbrook now leading the No. 66 of Joey Hand. However, Corvette Racing continues to lurk behind them, with Antonio Garcia sitting third in the No. 3 C7.R.
GTD Still Close As the Final Seven Hours Begin
The GT Daytona class is still a wide-open contest with the top six cars all running on the same lap as the final seven hours begin.
The GTD leader is now Andrea Caldarelli in the No. 48 Lamborghini for Paul Miller Racing.
Running second is Katherine Legge in the No. 86 Acura NSX for Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian. Adam Christodoulou runs third in the No. 33 Mercedes for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports.
Of note, the No. 29 Monteplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 had been the dominant car in GTD through the first half of the race, but a “nuclear penalty” for a balance of performance violation saw them serve a five-minute penalty that dropped them from the lead. They currently sit eighth in GTD.
Live timing can be found here.