Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 20 hours — less than 4 hours remain

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Over 20 hours are in the books for the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. But, while there are less than four hours remaining, there is still plenty of racing left to run, and with more frontrunners encountering problems, the race is far from over.

The class leaders at the Hour 20 mark are below.

Prototype

No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi, Joao Barbosa

No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing DPi, Felipe Nasr

No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca 07 Gibson, Romain Dumas

GTLM

No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Sebastien Bourdais

No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Scott Dixon

No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, Antonio Garcia

GTD

No. 11 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Franck Perera

No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, AJ Allmendinger

No. 48 Paul Miller Racing, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Andrea Caldarelli

Action Express Continues to Lead, But Problems Start to Surface

The two Action Express Racing cars still run 1-2 overall, but both have experienced cooling issues as the race heads to its closing stages.

The race-leading No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi took advantage of a full-course caution to make a quick dive into the garage area to check engine temperatures and add water. While the trip took many by surprise, it appeared to only be a minor check to add water and the car quickly rejoined, maintaining its lead. Joao Barbosa is currently at the helm.

However, the sister No. 31 Cadillac, which at one time was within half-a-second and pushing for the lead, was forced to spend a little extra time in the garage fighting the same issue, and actually lost three laps in the process. Still, the No. 31, now in the hands of Felipe Nasr, runs second.

Behind them, a new challenger has emerged in the No. 54 CORE Autosport Oreca, which moved into third after the No. 32 United Autosports entry encountered problems. Though four laps off the lead, the No. 54 machine, currently with Romain Dumas at the controls, could capitalize if the aforementioned issues for Action Express surface again.

Fords Continue to Dominate GTLM

The two Ford GTs from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing remain dominant in GTLM, but are running nose-to-tail and poised to stage an intra-team battle for the GTLM win. Currently, the No. 66 leads, in the hands of Sebastien Bourdais, with Scott Dixon running second in the No. 67.

However, Corvette Racing is still in contention, the No. 3 C7.R running third and still on the same lap as the Fords. Mike Rockenfeller is currently at the wheel.

Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes Doing Battle for GTD Lead

The close GT Daytona battle sees Lamborghini, Acura, and Mercedes emerging as the frontrunning marques, with the top four in class all on the same lap.

The No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 from GRT Grasser Racing Team has moved into the lead with Franck Perera.

However, the Michael Shank No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian is running a strong second, overcoming a brief off-course excursion after driver Katherine Legge was bumped off track by the No. 38 Performance Tech Racing Oreca as they approached the International Horseshoe.

Legge quickly regrouped and did not lose much time. AJ Allmendinger is now at the helm.

The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini sits third, with Andrea Caldarelli at the wheel.

The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports runs fourth, having recently spent time in the top three as well, with Luca Stolz now in control.

Below is a report on other notable happenings.

Wayne Taylor Racing Out After Several Tire Failures

A number of Prototype entries have experienced tire problems in the first 20 hours of running, but Wayne Taylor Racing has probably been hit the hardest. Suffering no fewer than seven punctures, they had their latest one late in Hour 17, forcing Renger Van Der Zande to once again bring the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R back to the garage.

Team owner Wayne Taylor subsequently retired the car, citing the aforementioned tire problems and an inability to determine a solution to prevent them.

United Autosports Hits More Problems

United Autosports’ No. 32 Ligier had been running a strong third, behind the top two Cadillacs from Action Express, but a clutch problem forced an unscheduled pit stop for repairs.

They were able to rejoin relatively quickly, but dropped to fifth, seven laps off the lead. Paul Di Resta is now behind the wheel.

Live timing can be found here.

Hour 20 Standings

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F1 Preview: 2018 German Grand Prix

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The German Grand Prix continues its biennial presence on the Formula 1 calendar – it’s hosted F1 events in even numbered years since 2014 – as Formula 1 returns to the Hockenheimring this weekend.

The German fans will undoubtedly be joyful in Sebastian Vettel entering his home race in the championship lead, by nine points over Lewis Hamilton. Yet, somewhat surprisingly, Vettel despite being one of the most successful and decorated drivers of his generation, Vettel has won in Germany only once (2013, at the Nurburgring) and he has never won at Hockenheim.

Conversely, Hamilton has won in Germany three times, including twice at Hockenheim (2008 and 2016).

As such, Vettel will hope to add to his points lead over Hamilton with a win on home soil, though Hamilton may be equally as motivated after watching Vettel his own home race at Silverstone two weeks ago.

Nevertheless, their 2018 championship duel will most certainly continue to be closely fought.

Talking points ahead of the German Grand Prix are below.

A Different World in 2018 vs. 2016

Nico Rosberg during the Formula One Grand Prix of Germany at Hockenheimring on July 31, 2016 in Hockenheim, Germany. Photo: Getty Images

The Formula 1 landscape looked completely different back in 2016, the last time Formula 1 visited the Hockenheimring. Bernie Ecclestone was still the chief executive of Formula 1.

Nico Rosberg was partnering Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes team, and was on his way to a driver’s championship that year.

Vettel and teammate Kimi Raikkonen were in the midst of a slump as Ferrari went winless in 2016.

The world was still getting to know a then 18-year-old Max Verstappen, the young Dutchman having won the Spanish Grand Prix in May that year.

And the cars looked completely different, with skinnier and taller rear wings and taller rear tires highlighting the appearance differences.

In 2018, Vettel and Ferrari might be the strongest combination. Rosberg is long from Mercedes, and Valtteri Bottas is doing his best to shine in the wake of Hamilton’s enormous shadow.

Verstappen is still a rising star, though he has come under fire at times for overly aggressive driving and his Red Bull teammate Daniel Ricciardo has garnered more headlines this year, with a pair of race wins alongside his status as an F1 free agent after 2018.

In short, the Formula 1 landscape is hardly recognizable from what it was back in 2016. And even though Hamilton won that year, followed by Ricciardo and Verstappen in second and third, very little will carry over from that race two years ago.

Hamilton, Mercedes Look to Take Back Momentum from Vettel, Ferrari

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 08: Lewis Hamilton of Great Britain driving the (44) Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team Mercedes WO9 leads Sebastian Vettel of Germany driving the (5) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 8, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Charles Coates/Getty Images)

The seesaw championship fight has tilted back in the favor of Ferrari, with Vettel leading Hamilton after finishes of third and first in Austria and England. Hamilton, meanwhile, DNF’ed in Austria and came home second in England after spinning on Lap 1.

Hamilton trails by nine points, but this is hardly an unfamiliar position for Hamilton in 2018 – he started the year trailing Vettel until he took the championship lead for the first time after the Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

Both teams have had multiple swings of momentum this year – Vettel won the opening two races before finishes of eighth in China (he spun after contact with Verstappen) and a pair of fourth place efforts in Azerbaijan and Spain before getting two more wins in Canada and England.

Hamilton, meanwhile stumbled out of the gates somewhat with finishes of second and third before taking a fortuitous win in Azerbaijan and two dominant wins in Spain and France before the misfortune in Austria.

All told the ebb and flow of the 2018 season seems to change with every race, and while Vettel now leads Hamilton again, things could change this weekend.

Raikkonen Trying to Fend off Ricciardo, Bottas

NORTHAMPTON, ENGLAND – JULY 06: Kimi Raikkonen of Finland driving the (7) Scuderia Ferrari SF71H on track during practice for the Formula One Grand Prix of Great Britain at Silverstone on July 6, 2018 in Northampton, England. (Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Kimi Raikkonen is somewhat of a forgotten man this Formula 1 season, but he does rank third in the championship at the moment, 10 points ahead of Ricciardo and 12 points ahead of Bottas.

However, both Ricciardo and Bottas are likely thought to have had better seasons – Ricciardo has the aforementioned wins (at China and Monaco) and the only thing that has kept Bottas from the top step of the podium is a string of horrendous luck.

However, Raikkonen, to his credit, has picked up the pieces whenever others around him have faltered, and he has six podium finishes through 10 races.

However, in order to fully silence any critics, and maybe even keep his Ferrari drive, Raikkonen would do well to get a win in 2018.

Misc.

  • The driver challenging Raikkonen’s position within Ferrari is Sauber’s Charles Leclerc. The Ferrari junior driver has five points finishes, and that could have been six if not for a pit stop error at Silverstone that caused him to leave his pit stall with a loose wheel – it forced him to retire. Leclerc’s star is on the rise, and he could shine again in Germany.
  • Nico Hulkenberg is the “other” German driver on the grid. And though he has a 24 Hours of Le Mans win to his name, he is yet to finish on the podium in an F1 race. The Renault package may not be a podium threat in usual circumstances, but if he stays clean and others falter, he could sneak in there…and doing so in his home race would make that overdue podium even sweeter.
  • After a pair of eighth place finishes, Fernando Alonso has helped McLaren at least stop the bleeding after a dismal stretch of races from Monaco through France in which the team scored zero points. However, the team still has a long way to go, and Germany could be another weekend of struggles.

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