Brumos Racing's David Donohue is out front in the 46th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, nine hours into the twice-around-the-clock marathon. The No. 58 Porsche Riley inherited the lead late in the eighth hour after the top three runners in the Daytona...
Brumos Racing's David Donohue is out front in the 46th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, nine hours into the twice-around-the-clock marathon. The No. 58 Porsche Riley inherited the lead late in the eighth hour after the top three runners in the Daytona Prototype class pitted for routine service.
As hour six began, the rain had subsided, prompting teams to switch back to slicks. The leading car did just that on lap 186, as Joey Hand brought the Alex Job Racing Porsche Crawford into the pits. Colin Braun in the No. 61 AIM Autosport Ford Riley took over the control of the race before pitting himself, handing over to co-driver Mark Wilkins. The lead swapped hands a few more times, between the No. 61, No. 23 and the No. 99 Gainsco/Bob Stallings Racing Pontiac Riley.
The caution came out on lap 222 for debris on track, giving the lead to Helio Castroneves in the No. 9 Penske-Taylor Racing Pontiac Riley. During the yellow, trouble stuck for one of the front running entries, AIM Autosport's Ford Riley rolled into the garage for full service. The Canadian crew went to work at the car's front splitter, brakes and fuel pump-related issues. It later returned to the track five laps down.
Double yellows waved once more just moments after the restart, due to the stationary Doran Racing Ford, which lost a wheel. Jon Fogarty, who took over from Jimmy Vasser right before the caution, now led the race, with eight hours of racing complete.
"We came in right before the yellow," said Vasser after his stint. "It was a pretty handy move by Kyle Brannon's part. He saw a car in the tires; we were approaching the bus stop. We had two gallons (of fuel) left, so we were well in our window. So we popped in and caught the yellow. We have Jon in the car and Alex to follow. I think the GAINSCO/Stallings team has the two main shooters in the next two lineups. But it's still a long race to go."
Hour nine started with a bang as AJ Allmendinger in the No. 6 Michael Shank Racing Ford Riley rocketed to the lead. But the green flag racing didn't last long as on lap 239, the eighth yellow of the race was deployed. This time it was to retrieve the No. 7 Sigalsport BMW Riley, which crashed into the barriers.
Allmendinger brought the field to the green on lap 243, with Fogarty in second and Patrick Long third. The trio ran in that formation for quite some time before their routine pit stops. This handed the lead over to Donohue in the No. 58 Brumos Racing Porsche Riley.
"I'm excited to be running in the top three," Alex Job Racing's Patrick Long said. "I think I was a little overanxious early on the second restart. I got some pick up on my tires and just pushed the car a little too hard and lost a couple of positions. But, by the end of the stint, when the fuel burned off and I calmed down a little bit, the lap times were really solid and consistent. I was pretty happy with my stint. We are going to keep soldiering though. There is a long way to go."
The full course yellow came out yet again on lap 264 - this time for the troubled No. 61 AIM Autosport entry which was stuffed in the barriers at the East Horseshoe. A number of cars elected to pit, except Donohue who stayed out. With seven cars still on the lead lap, its anybody's race.
A three-way battle developed for the GT lead throughout the last three hours. The No. 86 Farnbacher Loles Porsche, TRG's No. 66 Porsche and the No. 70 SpeedSource Mazda have been running on the same lap, often swapping positions. The light and nimble rotary RX-8 has paced the majority of the time, despite entirely running on slicks during the rainy period.
"We're just running down the clock," said SpeedSource's Sylvain Tremblay. "The car is unblemished - not one scratch on it. All the drivers are doing a great job. Usually that's what happens with all the top cars at the end of the race - no scratches, no dents, so that's what we're trying to do. I stayed on slicks during the rainstorm. I think strategically it was a good decision. It was a little interesting at times but we were running as fast as the guys on the rain tires and picked up speed when they had to come in and cycle themselves out. I think it was a great call to keep me out on slicks in the rain."
Robert Doornbos in the No. 81 Synergy Racing Porsche was running second in class six hours in, but made contact with the No. 30 Racers Edge Motorsports Mazda on the high banks. Doornbos limped back to pit lane with sparks flying, driving behind the wall for extensive repairs. The car later rejoined, losing over 20 laps to the GT leaders.
The No. 66 TRG Porsche leads after nine hours, despite suffering radio communication issues. "Nobody told me we were leading," said Lally following his stint. "We've had a couple of radio issues here and there. I can hear the guys, but I don't get any radio interference until they hit the button. Then, I hear them and somebody else. Knock on wood, the car is pretty darn good. These guys have been performing well here in the pits for us, and our car has been holding together. I'm looking forward to more. I want more. I want to win this thing."