After 18 hours of racing, there has been so many dramas affecting the Prototype class, now just four DPis are in the top 10, two are Cadillacs, the other two recovering Acuras, the rest are LMP2 cars.
As the 19th hour began, the #5 Mustang Sampling Action Express Cadillac headed behind the wall from the lead, though it turned out to be planned maintenance – for pressurised water charging, suggesting the car had been running hot through the night. The stop came during a Full Course Yellow for debris on the West Horseshoe. Upon returning to the circuit, the car retained the lead, its lap advantage shrinking to just 36 seconds over the sister Whelen Engineering Caddy.
Third now, after drama for the #7 Penske Acura, contact out on circuit, which sent it behind the wall, is the #32 United Autosports Ligier. A remarkable run from the Anglo-American team, running with a car that doesn’t have the raw pace, but so far has had the reliability to keep it in the mix for the win. With Will Owen behind the wheel, the car is four laps down.
Making up the top five after the first two ORECAs, the #54 CORE 07 leading the #78 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA, the pair five and seven laps back from the leader respectively.
As DSC wrote prior to this report, the big news of the race has been tyres, and specifically, tyre failures for the Prototype runners. Wayne Taylor Racing opted to retire its Cadillac with seven hours remaining, citing concern for the safety of his drivers as the reason.
“We have had eight or nine catastrophic tyre failures,” Taylor said. “We’ve gone through three sets of bodywork and it’s got to the point where I can’t afford the risk of hurting somebody.”
In GTLM, it’s been business as usual for Ford, still running 1-2, the #67 though, rising to the top during the past few hours, before the #66 took back the lead shortly before the three-quarter mark. Thew pair are now 11th and 12th overall, and on the verge of breaking into the top 10.
Corvette is still very much a player though, its #3 C7.R on the lead lap and after the most recent FCY just 1 second behind the leader. The #4 is still fourth, and now just a lap down from the top three.
Elsewhere, the only other notable occurrence in the class was the #911 Porsche heading behind the wall for repairs. It’s now down to eighth in the GTLM class.
Riley Motorsports has risen back to the top of GTD with the sun now back up, Adam Christodoulou behind the wheel, but having to check his mirrors for the Paul Miller and #11 Grasser Lamborghinis right behind, on the same Lap in second and third.
Also on the lead lap are the #86 Michael Shank Acura, #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari and #29 Land Audi of Chris Mies running fourth to sixth, continuing its recovery drive after its costly BoP penalty.
Penalties were plentiful as both the #86 and #69 Acura NSX GT3’s were handed penalties related to improper pitstops. THe #86 Acura from Michael Shank Racing was running in fourth at the time of its penalty, while the HART Racing car was further pack in the field.
With 18 hours in the books, the second batch of NAEC points have been awarded.