Race Weekend Central

Rolex 24 At Daytona: WTR Leads After 6 Hours

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 61st running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona has been a fierce battle. The two Acuras from Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport have spent significant time at the front of the field. They’ve been joined there by Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 01 Cadillac.

Through six hours, Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Filipe Albuquerque leads by 19.014 seconds over Action Express Racing’s Pipo Derani. Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian’s Helio Castroneves is third, then Alex Lynn and Nick Tandy.

Reliability was always going to be a big story with the new LMDh cars. It did not take long for issues to crop up. BMW M Team RLL’s No. 25 with Nick Yelloly at the wheel suffered an MGU failure early on. The fix took more than two hours and put the team 82 laps down.

The No. 7 Porsche briefly cut off with Felipe Nasr at the wheel. He was able to reset and get back going quickly with a few lost positions. A bigger issue in the sixth hour resulted in the team going behind the wall to change a battery, costing them 25 minutes.

LMP2 saw pole sitter Ben Keating open up a decent advantage on the rest of the amateur drivers in the class. Once the first driver changes were made, the No. 52 came back to the rest of the class.

TDS Racing currently runs one-two with Rinus VeeKay leading by a lap over teammate Francois Heriau. PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Nicolas Lapierre is third, then Julien Canal and Fred Poordad.

In LMP3, the big news is that Riley Motorsports is out early. The team led early and was in position to get their season off to an excellent start. However, the engine failed with Gar Robinson at the wheel late in the third hour. The team was effectively out on the spot.

For much of the early part of the race, Andrew Wojteczko Autosport’s No. 13 led the way. Then, Moritz Kranz ran in the back of Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Dixon when Dixon was slowing to avoid a spin. That dropped the team down the order. An extra pit stop dropped the team to sixth, one lap down.

At the six-hour mark, Andretti Autosport’s Rasmus Lindh was leading by 68.632 seconds over Sean Creech Motorsports’ Nolan Siegel. James French in the MRS GT-Racing entry was third, then FastMD Racing’s James Vance. AWA’s Thomas Merrill was fifth.

GTD Pro was dominated early on by WeatherTech Racing. Jules Gounon set laps faster than anyone in the class qualified while running away from the pack. However, the team dropped back after the first round of stops.

Since then, The Heart of Racing’s No. 23 Aston Martin and Corvette Racing have traded the lead back and forth. At the six-hour mark, The Heart of Racing’s Ross Gunn was leading Gounon by 8.494 seconds. Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner was third, then VasserSullivan’s Ben Barnicoat. Iron Lynx’s Romain Grosjean was fifth.

GTD has been dominated by Mercedes almost since the drop of the green flag. Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Mike Skeen led early until he was hit by Derani and spun in West Bend.

That gave the lead to Racers Edge Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Kyle Marcelli, who was running very strong early on before dropping back. The Korthoff Mercedes was able to quickly regain the advantage when Marcelli got out of the car in favor of Ashton Harrison.

The story of the race in GTD has been Winward Racing. After Lucas Auer‘s big crash in practice Thursday, the team was forced to send a couple of crewmembers to their base in Texas to retrieve their backup car.

See also
Lucas Auer Suffers Back Injury In Practice Crash

It took a full 24 hours for the team to get the car and drive it all the way to Daytona Beach from Houston. Once there, the Winward Racing crew worked most of the night to get their car prepared to race. With no practice laps on the backup car, the team got themselves into the top five from the rear of the field with ease.

At the six-hour mark, The Heart of Racing’s Marco Sorenson was leading by 3.302 seconds over Team Korthoff Motorsports’ Maximilian Goetz. SunEnergy1 Racing’s Luca Stolz is third in his Mercedes, then Inception Racing’s Marvin Kirchhoefer. Winward Racing’s Russell Ward is fifth.


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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