Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona after 9 hours — less than 15 hours remain

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Our next update will be around 7:30 a.m. ET. Please check back then.

We’re nine-plus hours down and 15 more hours to go in the 56th annual Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.

Ricky Taylor, who was questionable whether he’d be able to race after being bed-ridden the previous three days with a bad case of the flu, has come out of sick bay in a big way.

Taylor, driving Team Penske’s No. 7 Acura DPI, leads Joao Barbosa and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Team Penske Acura Dpi.

After nine hours, which came at 11:30 p.m. ET, the leaders are:

 PROTOTYPE:

  • No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac Dpi, Whelen Engineering Racing, Cadillac Dpi, Joao Barbosa
  • No. 7 Acura Team Penske, Acura Dpi, Ricky Taylor
  • No. 6 Acura Team Penske, Acura Dpi, Simon Pagenaud

GTLM:

  • No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, Joey Hand
  • No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, Ford GT, Scott Dixon
  • No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, James Calado

GTD:

  • No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport, Audi R8 LMS GT3, Christopher Mies
  • No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3, Adam Christodoulou
  • No. 86 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian, Acura NSX GT3, Katherine Legge

There’s still another 15 hours remaining in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season-opening race at Daytona International Speedway.

Since our last report after the first six hours, here are some of the more notable things that transpired between hours seven through nine:

SLIP SLIDING AWAY

Don Yount crashed into the tire wall early into Hour No. 7. Yount was entering the bus stop when his No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 got away from him.

The car didn’t suffer much damage, but then when Yount got going and headed for pit road, he overshot his pit stall. IMSA officials forced team members to push the car back into the pit stall, costing about 30 seconds.

The car was examined, some adjustments were made to the front end suspension and Yount was back on-track.

TANDY WRECKS HARD, SIGNIFICANT DAMAGE TO NO. 911 PORSCHE GTLM

Just a few minutes into the ninth hour, Nick Tandy and the No. 911 Porsche 199 RSR GTLM of the Porsche GT team hit hard into a tire wall.

The car spun around and hit the wall again, then kept spinning after bouncing off the rubber, suffering significant damage.

After the car came to a stop, Tandy quickly hustled the car to the garage for repairs. But given the damage to the front and rear of the Porsche, it’ll be a while before it gets back on-track – if it gets back on-track.

FROM FASTEST TO SLOWEST IN A POOF

The fastest car on the track at times became the slowest on the track when the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac Dpi-V.4 Prototype of Wayne Taylor Racing, driven by Renger Van Der Zande, blew a right rear tire and had to limp to the pits.

Unfortunately, damage caused by the shredded tire was extensive, prompting the team to push the car back to the garage after attempting to make fixes on pit road.

Several cars have lost right rear tires to punctures and blow outs across all three classes – Prototype, GTLM and GTD.

The No. 10, which had Zande, IndyCar star Ryan Hunter-Reay and Jordan Taylor, was among the strongest of the race, but it’ll have to come back a long way to make up for lost time as the race moves into the middle part of the race from Hours 9 to 18.

It’s the third tire failure for the team in the first nine races – all in the same area – and this one was by far the worst.

“This is now the third failure and it’s not even as if the tires are well-worn,” team owner Wayne Taylor told FS1. “It’s something I certainly have no idea of what’s going on.”

The car went back on-track just three minutes before the start of the ninth hour, but was scored 10 laps down to the leaders.

CADDY CATASTROPHE

The No. 10 wasn’t the only Cadillac that suffered problems.

The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Racing Cadillac Dpi Prototype suffered a serious mechanical failure.

The car was brought back to the garage for repairs, when the following bad news occurred a short time afterward:

ALONSO TAKES OVER 3 LAPS DOWN

The No. 23 United Autosports Liger LMP2 suffered a tire issue in the eighth hour that caused significant damage, dropping it three laps off the pace.

The incident occurred just before Phil Hanson turned the car over to 2-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso. While three laps down is significant, Alonso has the talent to make up a lot of ground, especially if issues happen to other Prototypes running ahead of him.

Alonso is expected to drive at least two, maybe even three more segments in the remainder of the event.

KEEP FIGHTING, NO MATTER HOW MANY LAPS YOU’RE DOWN

Wright Motorsports’ No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R day started off with a bang – but not in a good way.

The No. 58 made contact with the Turn 5 wall on the driver’s side on the pre-race lap, sustaining heavy damage.

In fact, it was already in the garage to begin repairs before the green flag even dropped. It ultimately returned to the track, but 106 laps behind the GTD leader.

The team had been heavily favored to potentially capture the GTD title, given the driver lineup of Patrick Long (who had been behind the wheel when the wreck occurred), two-time and defending GTD champion Christina Nielsen and Mathieu Jaminet.

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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