Petit Le Mans IMSA, H5: WTR Acura leads at half-distance

Wayne Taylor Racing is currently on course to win the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, as the 10-hour Petit Le Mans reached half-distance, while BMW leads Porsche and Corvette in the GT Le Mans class.

Petit Le Mans IMSA, H5: WTR Acura leads at half-distance
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DPi

A full course yellow with around 7hr30mins to go shuffled the deck in DPi leaving Jonathan Bomarito up front in the Mazda RT24-P since the team elected not to stop. However, the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 did stop – as did all the other DPi runners – Filipe Albuquerque handing over to Ricky Taylor, and resumed in second. That would elevate Tristan Vautier (JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac), Pipo Derani in the Action Express Racing Cadillac, Helio Castroneves in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura, Scott Dixon in the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac and Simon Pagenaud in the second AXR Caddy.

Bomarito did a fine job to pull out a seven second advantage over Taylor but when he pitted to hand off to Oliver Jarvis with seven hours to go, it wasn’t long before the Mazda returned to the pits with a misfire, and lost three laps.

The fifth caution of the day, caused by an off for an LMP3 car, saw Castroneves pit the Meyer Shank Racing Acura from the lead to hand off to Juan Pablo Montoya but the car fell to fourth, leaving Ricky Taylor up front, ahead of Loic Duval in the JDC Miller Caddy ahead of Mike Conway in the Action Express machine. Kobayashi took over from Pagenaud, in fifth, while Earl Bamber – subbing for the unwell Kevin Magnussen – got his first race stint behind the wheel of the Ganassi Caddy in sixth. He got ahead of Kobayashi on the restart, before the race came under its sixth caution almost immediately due to a big GT shunt.

Following the long caution, Taylor’s Acura maintained its lead ahead of Duval, but it wasn’t long before Action Express pulled Conway in for tires and fuel and dropped to sixth in class because the team spied a deflating tire. That left Montoya in third ahead of Bamber and Kobayashi.

GT Le Mans

The restart after 2hr40min saw Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette C8.R head off into the lead, leaving the #3 stablemate of Jordan Taylor trying to fend off the BMWs of Augusto Farfus and Philipp Eng, but JT was wrong-footed by LMP3 traffic and lost out to both of the M8s, and Farfus would keep pushing on and depose Milner to take the class lead. With 6hr45min to go, Eng muscled past Milner to make it a BMW 1-2.

However, Corvette Racing got the #4 back in front following a round of pitstops, but the restart after the fifth caution killed the #3 car, new champion Taylor getting embroiled in a GT pile-up on the green-flag lap.

That left John Edwards who was now in the #24 BMW, trailing Milner, while Mathieu Jaminet was up to third in the #79 Porsche ahead of Eng in the #25 BMW and the #97 Porsche of Michael Christensen. Yet, taking advantage of the long sixth caution to pit, the cars emerged with Jaminet ahead of Eng, Milner, Christensen and Edwards. At the restart, however, Eng moved into the lead and edged away from his pursuers.

GT Daytona

Aaron Telitz was able to continue Kyle Kirkwood’s fine work in the Vasser Sullivan #14 Lexus RC F to lead the class ahead of Aidan Read in the Turner Motorsports BMW M6.

However, a collision between Frankie Montecalvo in the #14 Lexus and the #42 NTE Sport – which also involved the #91 LMP3 car of Riley Motorsports – temporarily took the second VS car out of the equation, allowing Pfaff Motorsport to move into third with Laurens Vanthoor at the wheel. Grasser Racing’s Lamborghini ran fourth in Franck Perera’s hands with Ross Gunn fifth in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage ahead of Ben Barnicoat’s Inception Racing McLaren 720S.

Around the 6h40min-to-go mark, Read got around Telitz but the Lexus driver wouldn’t let him go.

However, the fifth caution fell soon after most of the leading runners had stopped, and Wright Motorsports had battled back onto the lead lap and was able to pit at the same time as the others under caution and was left leading the class in Pat Long’s hands ahead of Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, Lars Kern in the Pfaff Porsche, Russell Ward in the Winward Racing Mercedes.

Following the restart, there was a seven-car shunt, Taylor’s Corvette being joined in the carnage by the NTE Audi, the Grasser Lamborghini, the Inception McLaren, the Gilbert/Korthoff Mercedes, the Winward Mercedes, the former leading Lexus #14, and the Turner BMW.

The stops that followed saw De Angelis emerge in front of the class with Robert Megennis second in the #12 Lexus, Zach Robichon third in the Pfaff Porsche, Daniel Morad’s Alegra Motorsports Mercedes and Long – in his final race as a pro – in fifth, the only five cars on the lead lap. Robichon got around Megennis on the restart and Morad also deposed the Lexus a couple laps later.

LMP2 and LMP3

Following the sixth caution, Thomas Merrill moved his WIN Autosport entry ahead of Ben Keating’s PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports car and rocketed away from the legendary amateur at a surprising rate, so that at half distance in the race he held a 30sec advantage. That said, Keating had also been easily pulling away from John Farano in the Tower Motorsport car before pitting to hand off to Scott Huffaker.

Only two cars remain on the lead lap in LMP3, with Garett Grist of Jr III Racing leading Scott Andrews in the Riley Motorsports car. Colin Braun should have had the CORE autosport car in contention too, but IMSA Radio reported it had suffered an electrical issue.

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