Three hours into the 2017 running of Petit Le Mans, Stephen Simpson leads the race in the JDC Miller ORECA, after the last round of pit stops just before the turn of the hour caused a shuffle of the pack up front.
Right behind, Bruno Senna in the #22 ESM Nissan DPi is looking to retake the lead, with Mike Conway in the Wheel Action Express Cadillac third.
The second of the ESM Nissans, which sat second after the first hour, before taking the lead at the second set of stops, is now down to seventh, with Scott Sharp driving after the most recent trip to the pits.
There’s been further casualties in hours two and three, to add to the Penske ORECA in the opening hour – which is now up to eighth after Helio Castroneves and Juan Pablo Montoya’s fight back from 37th, and is now back on the lead lap.
The first was the PR1/Mathiasen Ligier, which had a nasty off at the exit of the Esses halfway through the second hour. Jose Gutierrez appeared to hop the kerb, sending him flying into the outside tyre-wall, leaving the JS P217 sitting almost vertical on the barriers with a destroyed front end.
Gutierrez was able to climb out though, before the team officially retired the car.
The second big drama was for the Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac, which retired just before the start of hour four, with engine issues that caused Ryan Hunter Reay to pull into the pits at a snail’s pace.
Completing the top five are the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac of Joao Barbosa and the Rebellion Racing ORECA of Gustavo Menezes.
In GTLM, the #25 RLL BMW leads the way, by five seconds over the #911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy. This after the #3 Corvette held the lead for a time, before slipping down the order at the second round of GTLM stops; the title leaders now sit third.
The two Fords are still in the mix, the #66 fourth, ahead of the sister #67 in fifth.
Further back, Risi Competizione lost a lot of time in the pits after a door fell off; the team’s Ferrari is now sixth. And the #4 Corvette with Tommy Milner driving got turned around just before the start of hour three at a restart, and slipped from fourth to the back of the class standings.
The other car to hit trouble was the #912 Porsche, Gianmaria Bruni had to dive out the car after a big fuel fire in the pits. Thankfully, it was taken care of quickly, nobody was hurt, and the car continued; it’s now seventh with Laurens Vanthoor since taking over from the Italian.
In GT Daytona Katherine Legge piloting the #93 Acura NSX leads the way in the GT3-only class. Jereon Bleekemolen in the #33 Mercedes AMG holds second while trying to stay in front of Justin Marks in the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW who rounded out the top three.
The championship-leading #63 Scuderia Corsa was fifteenth in class at the end of hour three. Christina Nielsen still needs to meet a minimum drive time of two hours and forty five minutes for that car and driver pairing of Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan to win both the Team’s and Driver’s championship in GTD.
The #86 Michael Shank Acura NSX had issues relating to drive and spent some time behind the wall, that car is 22 laps behind the class leader after three hours. Lawson Aschenbach behind the wheel of the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi suffered a broken suspension after contact at turn one.
Finally, the #50 Riley Porsche officially retired after a gearbox failure.
The Prototype Challenge class is still led by the #38 Performance Tech car, Patricio O’ Ward was behind the wheel of championship-winning ORECA with seven hours to go. The two BAR1 motorsports cars are second and third with the #20 of Daniel Burkett leading the #26 Tomy Drissi.