Seven minutes into the new hour of racing, Mazda Team Joest’s woes continued as the crew pushed Oliver Jarvis in the No.77 backwards up pit lane toward the garages to tend to engine problems.
At 2:03, a round of pit stops for the top three in Prototype ended with Graham Rahal beating the leading Action Express Cadillacs out of the pits in his Acura Team Penske entry. With fresh tires on the Acuras driven by Rahal and Simon Pagenaud, the ARX-05s gapped the Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi by more than a second per lap until a cushion of 13 seconds was achieved.
At 2:31, Rahal spun on his own in the Turn 1 braking zone, giving the lead to teammate Simon Pagenaud. Christian Fittipaldi, who replaced Barbosa, and Mike Conway, who took over from Nasr, also moved ahead as Rahal resumed in fourth, 12.3s behind Pagenaud.
The No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA 07 with Chris Miller behind the wheel suffered its second right-rear tire failure at 2:38 a.m., adding to its miseries.
As the race reached the halfway distance, Pagenaud was due to pit and held 8.6 seconds over Conway, who was also preparing to stop. Ford’s steamrolling of GT Le Mans continued as Dirk Muller and Ryan Briscoe held two laps over Mike Rockenfeller’s Corvette, who pitted just prior to the new hour. A duel between AJ Allmendinger’s Acura and Rolf Ineichen’s Lamborghini emerged with the American sitting on a slim 2.3-second lead.
With the lead, Allmendinger earned the distinction of leading every Rolex 24 at Daytona to he’s competed in to date.
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