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

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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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.

AJ Foyt Racing promotes Benjamin Pedersen from Indy Lights to IndyCar for 2023 season

Benjamin Pedersen AJ Foyt
AJ Foyt Racing
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Benjamin Pedersen is the first driver to land a promotion from Indy Lights into IndyCar for next season as AJ Foyt Racing confirmed Wednesday he’ll be part of its 2023 lineup.

Pedersen, a 23-year-old dual citizen of Denmark and the United States, spent last season running the full Indy Lights schedule for HMD Motorsports. Linus Lundqvist, his teammate, won the Lights title, and Pedersen finished fifth in the final standings. Pedersen earned his only win earlier this month when he led every lap from the pole at Portland.

Pedersen also ran four races for HMD in 2021 with back-to-back runner-up finishes in his debut. Pedersen landed on AJ Foyt Racing team president Larry Foyt’s radar through a “trusted colleague” and Pedersen spent most of last season shadowing the IndyCar team.

His promotion to IndyCar comes ahead of all four drivers who finished ahead of him in the Indy Lights standings, including champion Lundqvist.

“We are really looking forward to having Benjamin as part of the team,” Larry Foyt said. “His enthusiasm is infectious, and he is 100 percent committed to IndyCar, AJ Foyt Racing, and doing the best he can to win races.

“It’s been great to have him embedded with the team this past season, and everyone is excited to hit the ground running when testing begins. It is also great to have a multi-year program in place, which will help him and the team grow together.”

Foyt did not announce a car number for Pedersen. Kyle Kirkwood spent his rookie season driving AJ Foyt’s flagship No. 14 but Kirkwood is moving to Andretti Autosport. The team has not yet announced if Dalton Kellett will return for a fourth season, and a third car for Tatiana Calderon was pulled from competition after seven races because of sponsorship non-payment. Shutting down Calderon’s team removed the only semi-regular female driver from the IndyCar field.

Pedersen, however, was signed to an agreement Foyt said “spans multiple seasons as the team plans to develop the young rookie and is aligned to a longer-term plan for AJ Foyt Racing.”

Pedersen was born in Copenhagen but raised in Seattle and currently lives in Indianapolis. He said his time shadowing the IndyCar team has given him a jump on his rookie preparations.

“I’ve spent a lot of time this season with AJ Foyt Racing learning the ins and outs of making the jump to IndyCar and it’s been really nice to do that in conjunction with my Indy Lights season,” Pedersen said. “IndyCar has been my target goal since I started open wheel racing in 2016. The racing, atmosphere, fans, events, tracks, etc. are all awesome.”