Mazda leads into darkness

Image by Scott LePage/LAT

Mazda leads into darkness


Mazda leads into darkness


The sun has set and darkness is beginning to fall during the seventh hour of Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, with the No. 77 Team Joest Mazda RT-24P up front with three hours remaining.

“I pushed from the moment I got in until the moment I got out,” said Oliver Jarvis, who turned the lead car over to Tristan Nunez at 6h24m. “The Caddys have the pace — we didn’t expect that. But our car’s coming alive, and I think we can hold them off. We’ve got a really good car all around, and it’s working really well.”

Nunez pitted at exactly the seven-hour mark, followed by Helio Castroneves in the No. 7 Acura and Renger van der Zande in the No. 10 Cadillac (who had yet to pit), and then the Action Express Cadillacs of Mike Conway (No. 5) and Felipe Nasr (No. 31), plus the No. 6 Acura of Juan Pablo Montoya.

“This is going to be a race right up until the end,” said Felipe Albuquerque, who had just stepped from the No. 5 Cadillac.

Another car to watch is the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac now driven by van der Zande, which has managed to stretch its pit stops and has led several times during rounds of green-flag stops.

Scott Dixon led nearly every GTLM lap in his triple stint driving the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, joining regulars Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe in the car’s final IMSA race.

“I’ve got to give credit to the other two who put it up front in the first place,” Dixon said. “It’s been great to have been part of the GT program since the beginning. This is a fun race — one we haven’t run.”

After seven hours, Westbrook led Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 62 Ferrari, Connor De Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW, and the Porsches of Laurens Vanthoor (No. 912) and Patrick Pilet (No. 911).

If it comes down to a long green-flag run — and it’s been caution free for two hours, 20 minutes — the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen has stretched out its pit stops.

Bill Auberlen leads GTD in the No. 96 BMW, followed by Jeroen Bleekomolen in the No. 33 AMG and the No. 298 Audi of Ricky Feller.

Stay tuned – the second round of Michelin Endurance Cup points are up for grabs at the end of Hour 8.