Friday, January 18, 2019

Pagenaud Leads at Halfway


Simon Pagenaud and the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 led overall as the Rolex 24 at Daytona eclipsed its halfway mark, just minutes after the Team Penske-run cars were running 1-2.

The sister No. 7 Acura DPi held the lead as the 12th hour was nearing its end, but a spin by Graham Rahal entering Turn 1 saw the car lose its five-second lead and drop to fourth.

Rahal’s mishap cost the No. 6 car not only track position but also two Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup points. The maximum of five points went instead to Pagenaud and his co-drivers Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya.

Action Express Racing drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Mike Conway assumed second and third in the Nos. 5 and 31 Cadillac DPi-V.Rs, respectively, capitalizing on Rahal’s off. Rahal passed Fittipaldi for third, however, before the halfway mark was officially reached as these leading cars took turns pitting at this time.

Whelen Cadillac DPi Daytona night pit stop
Action Express Racing and Team Penske traded the overall lead during the night hours of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona. | Photo: Michael L. Levitt / IMSA

These Acura and Cadillac duos in the top four were the only cars on the lead lap and were followed after 12 hours by Pipo Derani in the No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi.

Jackie Chan DC Racing was the top LMP2 team after 12 hours, running sixth with its No. 37 ORECA 07.

Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi pits under Daytona lights
Wayne Taylor Racing was far from the front as the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona reached halfway. | Photo: Michael L. Levitt / IMSA

Reigning Rolex 24 winners and Prototype champions Wayne Taylor Racing are nine laps down in 10th after experiencing two tire blowouts.

United Autosports’ No. 23 Ligier JS P217, featuring Fernando Alonso, fell out of the fight at the front after a brake issue kept it in the garage long enough to go down 25 laps.

An off at the bus stop late in Hour 10 for Roberto Gonzalez in AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Ligier brought out the second and final full-course caution seen in the race’s first 12 hours.

Spirit of Daytona Racing’s new Cadillac is the first and only retirement through 12 hours due to a serious engine problem.

Fords Continue GTLM Dominance

Dirk Mueller was the leading GT Le Mans driver as the 56th Rolex 24 met its halfway point.

Mueller, driving the No. 66 Ford GT which dominated the opening 12 hours, held a 1.669-second gap over Chip Ganassi Racing’s second Ford GT as the cars completed their 390th laps. Only the Fords remain on the lead lap in GTLM.

After earning five points at both the six- and 12-hour marks, the No. 66 Ford leads the Patron Endurance Cup in GTLM with 10 points.

The four American GTLM cars occupy the top four spots in the class, with the Nos. 3 and 4 Corvette C7.Rs running third and fourth at 17 and 18 laps down after 12 hours.

The No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, running fifth, has become the Porsche GT Team’s top contender after Nick Tandy crashed at the bus stop in the No. 911 earlier in the night.

A blown tire for the No. 25 BMW has mired it to the 45th position overall out of 50, down 30 laps from the leading Fords.

Allmendinger Leads GTD in Shank Acura

An extremely strong start for Montaplast by Land-Motorsport’s Audi R8 LMS GT3 was broken up when IMSA penalized the car with a five-minute stop-and-hold penalty after finding that its fuel was flowing too quickly during pit stops.

Though the race’s second full-course caution came out soon after the penalty was served and allowed the car to regain some track position, the No. 29 Audi from Land-Motorsport ended Hour 12 scored ninth in GTD and one lap down.

Leading instead was Michael Shank Racing’s No. 86 Acura NSX GT3, driven to halfway by AJ Allmendinger.

Allmendinger entered Hour 13 with a lead of 2.321 seconds over the No. 11 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of the Grasser Racing Team, with the Lamborghini of Paul Miller Racing lurking in third.

Allmendinger in Michael Shank Racing Acura at Daytona 24 Hours
AJ Allmendinger led GTD after 12 hours at the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona. | Photo: Michael L. Levitt / IMSA

Magnus Racing and Scuderia Corsa, with their Audi and Ferrari 488 GT3 cars, allowed four manufacturers to be represented in the top five.

After spending time up front, Riley Motorsports’ No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 fell back to seventh in GTD, one spot ahead of the No. 15 Lexus RC F GT3 that formerly ran in the top three itself.

Live coverage of the race will be shown only on the FOX Sports GO app until 8 a.m. EST on Sunday, at which point the broadcast will return to FOX Sports 2 until 10:30 a.m.

Aaron Durant
Aaron Durant
Aaron Durant leads The Apex as its editor-in-chief. When not bringing his racing journalism vision to life at The Apex, Durant enjoys snowboarding, playing the drums, reading and trudging through an endless queue of podcasts.


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