Rolex 24 Hour 19: Drama for second-place Whelen Cadillac

Rolex 24 Hour 19: Drama for second-place Whelen Cadillac

IMSA

Rolex 24 Hour 19: Drama for second-place Whelen Cadillac

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Mike Conway began the 19th hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona only a tick behind Action Express Racing teammate Christian Fittipaldi as the wave-by for the fourth full-course caution allowed the two Cadillacs to run nose to tail, on the lead laps.

Midway through the hour, Conway went to the garage to watercharge the No.31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. This move was similar to one by Fittipaldi late in the 18th hour. The difference was that Fittipaldi’s stop was under the caution, while Conway lost three laps during his green-flag visit.

About 15 minutes later, Conway went to the pits for a routine stop, with Eric Curran rejoining the race still in second but now four laps back.

Third, five laps down, was Romain Dumas in the No.54 CORE autosport ORECA. At the top of the hour, co-driver Colin Braun motored by both Conway and Fittipaldi to regain one of his lost laps.

Fourth was Ho-Pin Tung in the No.78 Jackie Chang DCR JOTA ORECA, seven laps back. Falling to fifth with a clutch issue was Paul Di Resta in the No.32 United Autosports Ligier.

The wave-by following the caution allowed Mike Rockenfeller to get back on the lead lap in the No.3 Corvette C7.R. The car ran briefly behind the two dominant Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs.

“The car is kind of good. The track is changing all the time so I think we need to see where we are at the end,” Rockenfeller related. “Right now, it looks like the Fords are too fast for us. But we will keep digging. It is still a long race, and we know how many things can happen. I am still very optimistic.

“We have only had two yellows, so it’s a bit odd. I was expecting more chaos. There is still plenty of time for something to happen. No one usually wants yellows but I wouldn’t mind a couple to get us closer to the Fords!”

At the end of the hour, Dirk Muller in the No.66 Ford GT led the No.67 of Ryan Briscoe by 1.332 seconds, with Jan Magnussen 17.637 seconds back in third after taking over for Rockenfeller in the No.3.

The hour featured great back-and-forth and side-by-side racing for the GTD lead between the Lamborghinis of Bryan Sellers in the No.48 and Mirko Bortolotti in the No.11. At the end of the hour, Adam Christodoulou in the No.33 Mercedes led Franck Perera in the No.11 Lamborghini by .711 seconds. Trent Hindman was third in the No.86 Acura, followed by Sellers in the No.48 Lamborghini.

RACER.com’s coverage of the Rolex 24 At Daytona is presented by Forgeline Motorsports, manufacturers of custom made-to-order lightweight forged aluminum street and racing performance wheels.

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