Despite struggling for pace three weeks ago at the Roar Before the Rolex 24 open tests, Chip Ganassi Racing’s final effort in the Prototype division of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is so far a successful one as the 54th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona has reached the eight-hour mark.
Approaching 10:40 pm eastern time, the No. 02 Riley-Ford DP of Tony Kanaan led a group of eight cars still on the lead lap. First among them is the Visitflorida.com Racing Chevrolet Corvette DP of Marc Goossens, another team that struggled at the Roar, but have improved their car greatly since the start of the race. The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier-Honda coupe, which led for a good bit of time in the hands of both Olivier Pla and AJ Allmendinger, is now in third overall driven by team leader Oswaldo Negri at the time of press. Rounding out the first five are Ricky Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette and Filipe Albuquerque in the Action Express Corvette.
In GT Le Mans, a solid pit stop during the seventh full course caution vaulted Jan Magnussen in the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R to the top spot at time of press, with six other cars still on the same lap. Porsche North America’s Kevin Estre was in second, with the second Corvette in the hands of Oliver Gavin third. Risi Ferrari’s Toni Vilander was fourth and BMW’s Kuno Wittmer was in fifth.
Attrition has started to cripple the field in Prototype Challenge. The only car to avoid trouble so far is the PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports, which at time of press held a two-lap lead on the rest of the eight car PC field with Tom Kimber-Smith driving. Best of the rest behind PR1 was the No. 20 BAR1 Motorsport entry with NASCAR veteran Brendan Gaughan at the wheel.
Finally in GT Daytona, the power of the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 continued to show the way, especially on the high banks of the World Center of Racing. At time of press, Mirko Bortolotti of Paul Miller Racing led fellow Lamborghini runner Change Racing with Spencer Pumpelly currently driving. Change has made a solid comeback from a lap down to join the fight at the front. Also in contention for the first time in this race is the Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS, with factory driver Rene Rast making a strong charge from tenth to second during the sixth hour. The No. 44 machine now runs third, ahead Team Seattle Porsche’s Wolf Henzler and Park Place Porsche’s Norbert Siedler, who have also fought back from problems during the opening hour of the event.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for our next Rolex 24 update at half distance.