Graham Rahal had a quick spin and tyre smoking recovery from a solo spin in the East Horseshoe, the #7 Acura retaining 9th overall.
A very slow in lap from Lando Norris in the #23 United Autosports Ligier seems to spell trouble. The car goes behind the wall – throttle sensor issue, 6 minutes lost before the car rejoins.
The battles both for the overall and for GTLM are suddenly alive, the latest wave arounds putting Mike Conway on the tail of team-mate Christian Fittipaldi, and putting Mike Rockenfeller in the #3 Corvette in line astern behind the Ford pair!
Saavedra is the latest to suffer a puncture, left rear this time for the #52 AFS/ PR1 Mathiasen Ligier.
Conway pits the 2nd placed #31 Whelen Cadillac and the car gets the same water charging attention as the sister #5 car. This time though the stop is under green and the #31 loses almost three laps.
The 3rd placed #32 United Ligier pits with a clutch issue, Will Owen at the wheel. attention to the rear, and then to the front of the car, the #54 CORE ORECA powers through into third with Romain Dumas at the helm. Will Owen, now out of the car tells IMSA Radio’s Joe Bradley that the clutch pedal went to the floor. Paul di Resta now aboard and rejoins fifth with Ho-Pin Tung at the wheel of the #78 JCDC ORECA through into fourth.
GTLM meanwhile has seen the Fords edge away from the #3 Corvette.
5:15 remaining and Conway pits again, Eric Curran climbs aboard, rejoins, still second but with Dumas just 90 seconds back.
The #62 Risi Ferrari pitted midway through the 19th hour with right rear puncture, the team turning the car around quickly without further drama – Alessandro Pier Guidi rejoining still fifth in class behind the Ford and Vette pairs.
At the forefront in GTD is now the #11 GTR Grasser Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 who is holding onto a lead of about one third of a lap. Franck Perara is currently piloting that car that has completed one less pitstop than the second place, #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports, Luca Stolz behind the wheel of that car.
In third is the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 with American A.J. Almmendinger currently at the reins.
The #29 Montaplast by Land Audi which was hit with a penalty in the middle of the night while leading is currently in seventh. That penalty, related to the rate of fuel flow during the refueling, is the subject of much discussion on the broadcast and around the paddock. Kelvin Van Der Linde is expected to take over from his brother Sheldon, and bring that car to the finish.
The #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R was given a mechanical black flag, and has not emerged form the pits since then. The car did have an issue with a door that would not close, but it is unclear wether or not that was the reason for the flag.
The most notable incident in the class was the retirement of the #51 Spirit of Race Ferrari 488 GT3. That car made hard contact with the wall on the outside of the bus stop chicane when Paul Dalla Lana was behind the wheel. Despite the Canadian being able to drive the car back to the pits the team ruled the damage to the rear and side of the car too severe to fix.
Closing in on the end of Hour 21 the gaps in Prototype were being carefully managed by all concerned, both Acuras back into the top 10 after earlier delays but with a 6 lap gap between the 9th placed #7 and their next target the Performance Tech Oreca.
The gap between the second placed #31 Whelen Cadillac and the chasing #54 CORE ORECA was coming down, under a minute courtesy of pace from Loic Duval with Nasr seemingly struggling to find pace in the Cadillac. Duval was first of the pair to pit almost at the top of the hour but the #31 may be in trouble.
Paul di Resta meanwhile is working on reducing the deficit to the #78 ORECA of Ferdinand Habsburg in 4th – 35 seconds at the top of the hour In GTLM the Fords seem able to manage a gap to the chasing #3 Corvette at will, but the gap is far from a comfortable one, 42 seconds with the Vette running strongly and keeping up the pressure.
At this point in the race the question is not whether the current distance record will be beaten, but rather by how much and whether event the GTLM leader might beat the previous overall record – 776 laps in today’s money, with the overall leader already well over 700 with three hours to go!