Race Weekend Central

Rolex 24 Hour 18 Update: The Rain Reigns Supreme

On Saturday, the rains arrived at Daytona International Speedway during the sixth hour of the race.  It has not stopped raining ever since.  At first, it was a light rain that gave teams the choice as to what to do.  Then, the precipitation kicked it up a notch.

During the overnight hours, the rain came and went at the track.  Sometimes, it was down to just a sprinkle, enough for the Continental and Michelin tires to form a dry line.  Other times, it was wet enough for puddles of standing water to form.  It was because of standing water and incredible spray that made vision impossible that IMSA threw two long full course cautions.  One was 54 minutes in length, while the other was 101 minutes long.

The Cadillac dominance was broken in the overnight hours.  First, Tequila Patron ESM’s No. 22 was able to assume the overall lead on pit strategy and managed to hold off the Cadillacs.  However, after a pit stop, Brendon Hartley was nudged into the wall in turn 1 of the tri-oval.

The result of that incident was a full course caution and a loss of 26 laps for repairs.  The No. 22 is currently running tenth in Prototype and 27th overall.

As the night wound on, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Max Angelelli had a full lap over the field when he cut a tire and had to pit.  During that stop, the crew member manning the fire extinguisher did not get over the wall fast enough to back up the fueler.  That is considered a safety issue and drew a drive-through penalty.  As the penalty was served just after a restart, that gave the overall lead to the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Riley Mk. 30-Gibson.

The two long yellows kept the leaders in touch and once the field was unleashed, the Cadillacs pounced.

As of the end of hour No. 18, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor was leading by 12.592 seconds over Action Express Racing’s No. 5 for Joao Barbosa.  Marc Goossens was third in the Visit Florida Racing No. 90.  Ryan Dalziel was a lap down in Tequila Patron ESM’s No. 2 Nissan DPi in fourth, while Mazda Motorspors’ Jonathan Bomarito was five laps down in fifth.

In Prototype Challenge, the race has been dominated by Performance Tech Motorsports.  Despite a spin by Kyle Masson that brought out the sixth full course caution of the race, the No. 38 has had minimal trouble as compared to the other four cars.  After 18 hours, Performance Tech Motorsports is in 17th overall, 13 laps ahead of BAR1 Motorsports’ No. 26, which just had the nose fly off the car to cause the 14th full course yellow of the race.  The No. 20 for BAR1 Motorsports is another eight laps back after a crash.

In GT Le Mans, the race has become more competitive over time.  The first few hours were dominated by Ford, but Porsche and their new 911 RSR came to the forefront in the race.  At one point, the Porsches ran 1-2 with Kevin Estré leading in the No. 912.

At the 18-hour mark, Porsche North America’s Patrick Pilet was leading the class with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sébastien Bourdais giving chase.  Jan Magnussen in the Corvette Racing No. 3 was third, followed by Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche and Risi Competizione’s Toni Vilander in fifth.

In GT Daytona, Michael Shank Racing’s Andy Lally predicted on Sunday that nine cars would be on the lead lap at sunrise.  Lally was overly optimistic in his prediction as only five were still on the lead lap at sunrise.  By the 18 hour mark, it was only three.  Michael Shank Racing comprised two of those three.

Ryan Hunter-Reay led the class in the No. 86 Acura NSX with Lally second in the No. 93.  The only other car on the lead lap was the Stevenson Motorsports No. 57 Audi driven by Matt Bell.  Adam Christodoulou was a lap back in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Riley Motorsports.  Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan, Montaplast by Land-Motorsport’s Jeffrey Schmidt and Alegra Motorsports’ Jesse Lazare were also a lap down.

If you’re looking for a feel good story, look at DAC Motorsports.  This is a team that had to build up a replacement chassis Friday night after Emmanuel Anassis blew a tire and crashed hard in Happy Hour.

They just made it onto the grid, arriving less than a minute before the command to start engines.  After a relatively trouble-free race, the No. 18 Lamborghini is running 11th in class.

About the author

Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.

Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.

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