Rolex 24 Hour 16: Mazda climbs back into the top three

Image by LAT

Rolex 24 Hour 16: Mazda climbs back into the top three


Rolex 24 Hour 16: Mazda climbs back into the top three


Two thirds of the way into the Rolex 24 and the picture continues to look good for Wayne Taylor Racing, but Mazda Team Joest has moved back into the top three.

Renger van der Zande pulled out a lead of around a minute in the No.10 Cadillac, having led since hour 13 and taking advantage of both strong pace and good stint lengths. The No.5 JDC Miller Cadillac is back in second place despite Sebastien Bourdais stalling after his last pit stop, with Tristan Nunez putting the No.77 Mazda in the top three, 15s behind Bourdais.

The No.31 had run as high as second in the hour before, but Felipe Nasr took over the Action Express car and slipped to fourth.

There was a sign of the pressure in LMP2 after an hour in which Gabriel Aubry and Ben Hanley traded quick times in the No.52 PR1 and No.81 Dragonspeed entries respectively. An error from Aubry, who went off on cold tires at the International Horseshoe on an out-lap late in the hour, allowed the No.81 to close to within half a minute.

The longest stretch of green flag racing of this year’s race – at the hour it was 5 hours 37 minutes of continuous running – meant the majority of battles remained unchanged, but that was not a problem given the relentless fight for the lead in GTLM.

Once again the two leading cars pitted at the same time, on this occasion with Laurens Vanthoor taking over the class-leading No.912 Porsche and retaining position ahead of the No.24 BMW. But in a sense of role reversal, the lead then changed on track soon after the stops, with Jesse Krohn overtaking Vanthoor in the infield and setting a new fastest lap.

The No.911 Porsche also closed in, pulling to within ten seconds of the lead and dragging the No.3 Corvette being driven by Antonio Garcia with it. The No.4 Corvette remains behind the wall being repaired after nearly seven hours out of the action.

There was drama in GTD as the No.9 Pfaff Motorsport Porsche – which had been a threat for much of the race – pulled into the pits and immediately turned left towards the garages, and was yet to re-emerge after nearly half an hour.

While a number of cars remained on the lead lap, Andrea Caldarelli in the No.48 Paul Miller Motorsports Lamborghini pulled out a solid lead of nearly a minute over the No.88 WRT Audi.

Lexus had a tough spell during the early hours of the morning, with issues with a brake change causing the No.14 RC F that has Kyle Busch in its line-up to lose number of laps, while the No.12 also spent time behind the wall for repairs and rejoined 14th in class, 20 laps behind the next car.