Contenders in two top classes encountered problems in the opening minutes of the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona, that got underway at 3:40 p.m. ET on Saturday.
Oliver Jarvis had problems getting the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P off the grid, reportedly getting the car into first gear. He finally joined the field, but took the green flag at the tail end of the 49-car field. It didn’t take long for Jarvis to get in the mix with the seven DPi contenders, although he had to serve a penalty for speeding on pit road during his first pit stop. He ran seventh at the one-hour mark.
Coming down to the start of the GT race, Kevin Estre in the No. 79 WeatherTech Porsche 911 RSR-19 was turned around after being hit from behind by Bruno Spengler in the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE. Estre continued with damaged rear bodywork, although he was again bumped off course on the second lap by a GTD competitor. Spengler served a penalty for incident responsibility.
Eight minutes into the race, caution waved for the first time to remove debris from the Estre Porsche in Turn 6. Estre then pitted in the early laps to replace the rear-end assembly and splitter, putting the lone GTLM Porsche 15 laps down.
The two Duqueine M30-D08 cars in LMP3 got together in the early laps. The put the No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports entry in the pits, losing four laps, while Ryan Norman in the No. 7 Forty7 Motorsports car was the first car to the garage.
Felipe Nasr led from the start in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. He led 20 laps before his first pit stop, and cycled back to the lead two laps later. Filipe Albuquerque passed for the lead on Lap 25, with Nasr back to the lead one lap later.
At the one-hour mark, Nasr led in DPi, followed by Loic Duval in the No. 5 Cadillac and Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Cadillac. Ben Keating had a 25-second lead in LMP2 driving the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA LMP2. Rasmus Lindh leads in LMP3 driving the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier. In GTLM, Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette leads teammate Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette and James Calado in the No. 62 Ferrari.
Aaron Telitz leads GTD in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus, followed by Madison Snow in the No. 1 Lamborghini and Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Porsche.
The command to start the engines for the 59th Rolex 24 At Daytona was given by Pierre Fillion, president of the ACO. Dano Davis, founder of the Brumos Collection, waved the green flag to get the field underway.