Rolex 24, H3: JDC-Miller Cadillac leads, Corvette heads GTLM

Tristan Vautier in the JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac is leading the 59th Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona after three hours, while the Corvette C8.Rs are running 1-2 in GT Le Mans.

Rolex 24, H3: JDC-Miller Cadillac leads, Corvette heads GTLM

A 30min yellow flag for DragonSpeed’s issues (see below) saw the Action Express Racing team leave both its cars out following their second stops, the Nasr leading in the #31 Whelen Engineering car, and the #48 Ally car second, having recently stopped for Jimmie Johnson handing over to Simon Pagenaud.

By contrast, Renger van der Zande stopped the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac for a fuel top-up, and he came out third, ahead of Loic Duval in the JDC-Miller machine completing a Cadillac 1-2-3-4. Then came the two Acura ARX-05s of Filipe Albuquerque (Wayne Taylor Racing) and Dane Cameron (Meyer Shank Racing) and the Mazda RT24-P of Oliver Jarvis.

Following the restart, van der Zande wasted little time in deposing the two AXR cars, putting Ganassi into the lead before the third FCY flew for another LMP2 off.

The third restart saw Duval depose Pagenaud to grab third spot, and Albuquerque’s WTR Acura broke the Caddy domination by also passing Pagenaud just before the fourth yellow bunched the field again.

The subsequent pitstops under caution saw Vautier take over the JDC Miller Cadillac and snatch the lead ahead of Ricky Taylor now in the WTR Acura.

Kevin Magnussen replaced van der Zande in the Ganassi car, Olivier Pla took control of the Meyer Shank Acura, Harry Tincknell replaced Jarvis in the Mazda, Chase Elliott in the #31 Cadillac which had dropped to sixth – due to taking emergency service when the pits were closed – but emerged still ahead of Pagenaud’s sister car.

Both AXR cars pitted again but Pagenaud has now climbed to fourth ahead of Pla and Tincknelll.

In LMP2, around the 80min mark, Rob Hodes in DragonSpeed’s #81 went off as a result of a deflating tire and needed rescuing from the Bus Stop chicane as he attempted to get out of the way of other cars but got stuck behind tire wall. This caused the second full course yellow, and gave the team a chance to put Ben Hanley in the car.

During the long caution period, Antonio Fuoco took the lead of the class in Cetilar’s Dallara ahead of Ben Keating’s PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca, and Frits van Eerd in the Racing Team Nederland entry. However, soon after the restart, van Eerd, who had made a poor restart, went off, causing a third caution at the two-hour mark, leaving Fuoco leading the second DragonSpeed car of Eric Lux and then Keating.

As the third hour ended, Pierre Chatin of Era Motorsport led the class ahead of Keating, with Timothe Buret third in the Tower Motorsport by Starworks car, with Andrea Belicchi of Cetilar hunting him down, Christopher Mies fifth in the #82 DragonSpeed car, and Tristan Nunez sixth for WIN Autosport.

The battle for the LMP3 lead thinned quickly in the opening 2.5 hours, with trouble for Muehlner Motorsports, Performance Tech (as noted above), the #91 of Riley Motorsports and Forty7 Motorsports.

This has left Wayne Boyd leading for Sean Creech Motorsports as the evening fell, ahead of Gar Robinson in the #74 Riley entry and George Kurntz of CORE autosport.

In GTLM, Corvette Racing’s C8.Rs were split after their second pitstops, and Tommy Milner – who had electrical problems in the first stint and fell to fourth – restarted in the lead of the class, but now ahead of Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 with James Calado at the wheel, and Antonio Garcia was third in the second Corvette, followed by the two BMWs.

Following the third restart, John Edwards drove the #24 BMW into third ahead of Garcia and started pressuring Calado. Eventually, Calado tried a late lunge down the inside of Cameron Cassels’ Performance Tech LMP3 car at Turn 7 and the pair spun off. The Ferrari got going again but now fifth in class.

The next round of pitstops saw Corvette Racing excel themselves again, getting Jordan Taylor out in the #3 car in second, behind Nick Tandy who took over the #4, and ahead of Jesse Krohn who had replaced Edwards in the #24 car.

Props, too, to Risi who got Calado out ahead of Philipp Eng in the second M8 – which had been delayed in the startline clash with the WeatherTech Porsche.

However, it was all for naught, as the Briton was judged to have been at fault in the collision with the LMP3 car, and had to serve a drive-through penalty. Adding salt to the wound, as he emerged from the pits, Calado was shoved off the road by Ted Giovanis in the Team TGM Porsche.

Aaron Telitz in the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F held the GTD lead at the third restart, while his closest rival, Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R outbraked himself at the Bus Stop chicane and handed second to Misha Goikhberg in the #19 Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan.

However, Goikhberg had yet to make his second stop, and so he soon handed second back to Heylen – but now 4.2sec behind Telitz, and under pressure from another 911 expert, Laurens Vanthoor in the Pfaff Motorsports entry.

Fourth ran Rolf Ineichen in the other Grasser Lambo, with Daniel Morad fifth in the Alegra Motorsport Mercedes AMG GT3. That team has performed particularly well, since it had to overcome a drive-through penalty for changing its driver lineup at the last minute. Michael De Quesada has been withdrawn due to illness, and the team is currently awaiting the arrival of his replacement, Mike Skeen.

Robby Foley in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 ran sixth, ahead of Ryan Briscoe in the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488.

Magnus Archangel’s Acura NSX lost a lot of time to a deflated rear tire thrashing some of its rear bumper away, while another potentially strong car, the #12 Lexus of Vasser Sullivan Racing, lost two laps while having its IMSA transponder replaced.

As the third hour ticked by, Kyle Kirkwood was maintaining the lead in the VSR Lexus ahead of Darren Turner in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, while Trent Hindman – a late replacement for Ryan Hardwick – doing a fine job in the Wright Motorsports 911.

Fourth was the Winward Racing Mercedes piloted by Indy Dontje, coming under pressure from Bill Auberlen who had taken over the Turner Motorsports M6 and Charlie Eastwood in the TF Sport Aston Martin.

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