Rolex 24, Hour 7: AXR Cadillac leads, LMP2 leader TDS out

Jake Galstad/Lumen

Rolex 24, Hour 7: AXR Cadillac leads, LMP2 leader TDS out


Rolex 24, Hour 7: AXR Cadillac leads, LMP2 leader TDS out


Steven Thomas crashed the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA out of the LMP2 lead early in the seventh hour of the Rolex 24 At Daytona, the car leaving the circuit on a rollback and thus knocking one of the class favorites out of contention. Thomas was evaluated and released. The incident brought out the race’s third full-course caution and putting most cars back on the same pit sequence. But the restart was bad news for Meyer Shank Racing.

On the restart, Helio Castroneves in the No. 60 MSR Acura made a move on Pipo Derani, but lost it under braking for Turn 1, the rear breaking away and the car then rotating the opposite direction and sliding down the oval apron. Castroneves headed for the pits immediately to replace the now flat-spotted tires. He managed to stay on the same lap, but well back.

That left Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-LMDh in the lead, followed by Nick Tandy in the No. 6 Porsche and Alex Lynn in the No. 02 Cadillac as the race entered its eighth hour.

The GTP No. 25 BMW ended the hour back in the garage for the third time. It had emerged from the garage for a single lap before heading back in again.

Dwight Merriman was already well down in the LMP2 No. 18 Era Motorsports ORECA thanks to a penalty when he turned into Rasmus Lindh in the No. 36 Andretti Austosport Ligier after Lindh locked up the brakes and went deeper into the corner on Merriman’s inside. Merriman spun and was stopped for a long time before he able to get going again

The No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG now has Mikael Grenier at the wheel and is back at the head of the GTD field, and heading the GT cars overall.

“I had the lead after pit stops over the Corvette, so it was quite nice to be the lead overall, of GT Pro and GT combined,” said Maximilian Goetz, who had just exited the No. 32. “I was able to pull away a bit so I did my first laps and really enjoyed it. I controlled the gap to the cars in the back and yeah, we kept the gap the whole stint in the same same range to make it safe, to save fuel for us and then also we observed the others what they are doing and there was no improvement in lap time. So we said, ‘OK, just keep the pace that we have, it looks pretty good.’”

The GTD PRO field is scattered throughout the GTD cars. Only the top two are running together, Daniel Juncadella in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG chasing Pittard.

Class leaders after the seventh hour:

GTP: Pipo Derani, No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-LMDh

LMP2: Ben Keating, No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA

LMP3: Rasmus Lindh, No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier

GTD PRO: David Pittard, No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage

GT3 GTD: Mikael Grenier, No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3

Notes and quotes:

Filipe Albuquerque, No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-05: “(You’ve got to) just be aware of traffic. Some guys, just like the way they position themselves just really caught me off guard in a way. Some GTs, like they see us coming and they still go to the wall and then come down. I really think sometimes people think this is iRacing and they go up and go down slowly. You know, take advantage of the delta when you’re driving or an iRacing, which is just silly. And it just tricks us up, like we don’t know where to go.”

Romain Grosjean, GTD PRO No. 63 Iron Lynx Lamborghini Huracan: “Pretty fun. I think it’s been a good experience so far, a lot to learn. Obviously, GT cars are very different from single-seaters, so it’s getting used to that. Car was not that easy to drive but I think the track’s gonna come to us; we kind of set up more for the end of the race, so happy with that. I’m going to be honest — our struggle is the straight line. And therefore, when you’re behind a faster car in a straight line but a slow driver, you lose a lot of time, so it gets a bit frustrating in the car.”