Four hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona, the Daytona International Speedway saw an ultimate high and an ultimate low for the DeltaWing Racing Team. The Don Panoz-run squad, who started last among the Prototype class runners charged through the pack early to take the lead three times during the opening four hours of the race, with Katherine Legge and Andy Meyrick taking turns at the front. Unfortunately, the end product will not be as good.
Just prior to the end of the fourth hour, the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport PC entry of Chris Cumming spun in turn one. Amazingly, IMSA officials did not throw a full course caution despite several near misses of the disabled car by other traffic, until Meyrick had come on the scene. Unaware of the accident due to a malfunctioning radio, the Wales-based driver could not avoid the stranded car and struck the ORECA FLM09 head on. Neither driver suffered injuries in the shunt, but both cars are likely done for the race. The incident was a second bitter pill for Starworks to swallow as Sean Johnston had badly damaged the right front of the sister No. 88 car when he made contact with the pit road exit barrier. The team was working to repair that entry at the time of press.
With the DeltaWing mishap, SpeedSource Mazda Motorsports’ Jonathan Bomarito assumed the lead for the first time in the race, with Wayne Taylor Racing’s Max Angelelli second, and Action Express Racing’s Jonny Adam running third.
In Prototype Challenge, JDC-Miller Motorsports has controlled the proceedings right from the start. After four hours, current driver Chris Miller, held the lead over PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports’ Nicholas Boulle, with Performance Tech Motorsports’ Josh Norman in third. JDC-Miller’s success came directly from a solid opening three hour stint from Stephen Simpson. The issue with that though is every driver in PC is required to run a certain amount of time over the course of the 24-hour distance. According to an interview with IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam, Simpson may only be able to drive another two hours for the remainder of the event to stay within the regulations. BAR1 Motorsports had a car disqualified from last year’s race related to this mandate.
In GT Le Mans, Corvette Racing had vaulted to the top, holding the first two positions. Despite Oliver Gavin losing time in the first hour due to a tire puncture, co-driver Tommy Milner had moved the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to the lead, over the sister No. 3 car of Antonio Garcia. Porsche North America, who had also held the top spot in the early hours of the race were in third place, represented by the No. 912 entry of Michael Christensen. Risi Competizione Ferrari’s Davide Rigon and BMW Team Rahal’s Lucas Luhr rounded out the first five.
While Corvette and Porsche have controlled the race upfront, the debut of the new Ford GT has been plagued by problems. Both the 66 and 67 entries have made trips to the garage area to fix drive line problems and have fallen out of contention for the class win.
Finally in GT Daytona, the Lamborghini Huracan GT3s have been the story. Although their domination is a bit limited from the first two hours at the time of press, Paul Miller Racing Bryan Sellers held the top spot in the division. The No. 93 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R,which won this division at the Rolex 24 last year was second with Damien Faulkner, followed by the Prodrive factory Aston Martin V12 Vantage of Mathias Lauda in third. Stevenson Motorsports’ Audi R8 LMS with Matt Bell driving was fourth, and rounding out the first five was the second Riley Viper with Dominik Farnbacher, despite the car losing time early in the first hour to check for a possible rear end gear issue. Fortunately the check was under caution so they managed to remain on the lead lap.
Stay tuned to OnPitRoad.com for our next Rolex 24 at Daytona update at the eight-hour mark.