A new name has appeared in the overall lead of the Rolex 24 as Saturday has now turned into Sunday and we reach the race’s halfway mark. The #5 Mustang Sampling JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R. is in control of the field after moving through the DPi field.
The Cadillacs have begun to emerge as a strong force in the darkness, Loic Duval has kept the #5 Cadillac in the lead of the race after Joao Barbosa moved the car into the lead of the race. Duval set the fastest lap of the car’s race in the last half hour.
Ryan Briscoe is back in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R. Briscoe and Pipo Derani in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. have combined to complete a 1-2-3 for Cadillac.
There have been no incidents for the DPi runners in the last six hours. The #7 Acura Team Penske is still running, it is 22 laps down.
The best-placed non-Cadillac is the #55 Mazda RT24-P who is in fourth and is 66 seconds behind the leading #5 Cadillac.
LMP2 has turned into a two-horse race in the past six hours with the #81 DragonSpeed ORECA 07 and the #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 looking set for an almighty battle in the race’s final 12 hours.
Nick Boulle is in #52 ORECA 07 is currently in the lead of the race and has a one-lap advantage over the #81 DragonSpeed that he inherited from Gabriel Aubry.
The #81 ORECA and #52 ORECA have exchanged blows up to this point, but the story in LMP2 has not been about the top contenders but rather the ones farther down who have, for now at least, drifted out of contention for the win.
One of the LMP2 entries to run into issues was the #8 Tower Motorsports by Starworks ORECA 07. It suffered a failure of its cooling and water system at the end of the ninth hour. The hose clip had broken, and the header tank cap was loose. The car went into a safe mode to protect key components from overheating.
The safe mode worked as intended and the only thing the team lost was the time it took to repair the system. It emerged from the garage 14 laps behind the leader of the class.
Cameron Cassels in the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07 also ran into trouble. Cassels went straight off at the international horseshoe and after Cassels was unable to get the car going, a full-course yellow flew, the race’s second.
That car is now 12 laps behind the class-leading #52 ORECA 07.
The #24 BMW Team RLL has consolidated its performance at the front of GTLM, solid shifts from Augusto Farfus and John Edwards pushing on into the night. The Porsche pairing had kept the BMW honest though, the #912 car ahead of the #911, Laurens Vanthoor and Nick Tandy respectively holding the fort.
Even though both 911 RSR-19s took new brake pads under Full Course Yellow, dropping them to the back of the GTLM order, there was still a sense that they had the pace under control in what was now effectively a five-car race. As the race reached its mid-point, the Porsches were back behind the BMW in second and third, their order the same.
Marcel Fassler’s #4 Corvette C8.R was taken behind the wall to its garage where it disposed of most of its engine oil. A lengthy repair means the silver Corvette is out of contention, leaving Jordan Taylor’s #3 car to carry on the charge in the C8.R’s race debut. The young American has set the fastest GTLM lap time so far, 1:42.697, the car had run in third before dropping to fourth in class with Nicky Catsburg, though still in contention.
Alessandro Pier Guidi and James Calado had been pressing on steadily in the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, staying aboard the car throughout to maintain a competitive pace and minimise pit time, currently fifth in the GTLM train.
If the GTLM class had seen evolution, the race in GTD was of relatively random selection.
The #98 Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT3 was posted as an official retirement, Ross Gunn having shunted the pit wall in what he later explained was his first-ever accident in an Aston Martin.
The top ten runners on the same lap, the order had shuffled around two caution periods, the second of which being triggered by the #19 GEAR Racing Lamborghini, which had to be towed in after a fuel pump failure, the same issue later affecting the #11 GRT Grasser Racing Huracan.
Faring much better for Lamborghini is the #48 Paul Miller Racing entry, currently leading having been in the top three for several hours. Madison Snow and Corey Lewis having covered the earlier part of the race, Bryan Sellers and Andrea Caldarelli were sharing the team’s push on through the night.
Zacharie Robichon had been back aboard the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, which had regained its position at the front before an extended brake change dropped the car to tenth, the last car on the lead GTD lap, Lars Kern taking over.
The dark horses starting to show potential are the WRT Speedstar Audi, which has appeared solid all week, the #88 car currently with Mirko Bertolotti at the wheel, but having been hauled up the order by Dan Morad. The car had benefitted from the previous FCY falling well for their scheduled stop, gaining track position and now in second place.
Similarly, Toni Vilander’s progress with the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo looked good. Alessandro Balzan had piled on the pace and slick pit work under yellow had brought the car to third in class.
Fourth place is currently held by the #12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F in the hands of Aaron Telitz, having crept steadily up the GTLM order.
The #57 Acura NSX had featured well too, but came rather unstuck through a bad pit call; its front pads changed under yellow, a lap was still lost when the rear pads had to be addressed on the following lap as the race went green.