Rolex 24, Hour 20: Creech LMP3 knocked out of healthy lead

Michael Levitt/Lumen

Rolex 24, Hour 20: Creech LMP3 knocked out of healthy lead


Rolex 24, Hour 20: Creech LMP3 knocked out of healthy lead


Sean Creech Motorsports is the latest team to experience the heartbreak the Rolex 24 At Daytona can deliver, the No. 33 Ligier falling from the LMP3 lead with a gearbox actuator issue that took it behind the wall. That has delivered the lead of the race to Thomas Merrill in the No. 17 AWA Duqueine. AWA had been fighting hard with the No. 33 earlier in the race, but had fallen a lap behind. The team now has an eight-lap lead over the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier. The No. 33 returned to the track, 17 laps down, but still third in class.

Three cars remain on the lead lap in LMP2, led by Ben Hanley in the No. 04 CrowdStrike by APR ORECA. Giedo van der Garde in the No. 35 TDS Racing car and Matthieu Vaxiviere in the No. 88 AF Corse in pursuit.

Up front, the No. 01 Chip Ganasssi Racing Cadillac continues to extend its lead over the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura — two of three cars on the lead lap at the moment, the No. 02 Cadillac still in third. Scott Dixon remains at the wheel of the No. 1, while Simon Pagenaud is now in the No. 60.

GTD PRO is still a fight between Jordan Taylor in the No. 3 Corvette and Daniel Juncadella in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes AMG. Ben Barnicoat and the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF remains on the same lap, but have a large gap to Juncadella. It’s Aston Martin and Mercedes-AMG battling in GTD, the No. 27 Heart of Racing Vantage driven by Darren Turner holding the lead over Winward Racing’s No. 57 (Philip Ellis) and looking quite strong.

“The AMG is good on long pace, but it seems the Astons are a little better on new tires,” said Winward Racing driver Daniel Morad.

Class leaders after the 20th hour:

GTP: Scott Dixon, No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh

LMP2: Ben Hanley, No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing with APR ORECA

LMP3: Thomas Merrill, No 17 AWA Duqueine

GTD PRO: Jordan Taylor, No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette

GTD: Darren Turner, No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage

Notes and quotes:

• The Iron Dames have had a rough introduction to the Rolex 24, their No. 83 Lamborghini Huracan experiencing several issues and making a couple of trips to the garage.

• The final 1h40m of the race will be on NBC, the network going live at noon ET.

• It’s been well over five hours of green-flag running, the last yellow ending at 4:17 a.m.

• Early morning clouds are burning off and the track is in full sunshine. Temperatures toward the end of the race are expected to be about 10 degrees warmer than experienced in the race so far.

Chip Ganassi, owner, Chip Ganassi Racing: “When the people in the United States and the people in France were able to get together on the rules, and a common standard, I guess, all of us in the industry thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be great.’ So it’s something we’ve known for, a couple of years that was was coming and now to be on the doorstep of the first race of this formula, I think the excitement is obvious with the manufacturers here, with the fans here. I heard this morning that Le Mans is sold out of tickets, and I’ve never heard that before. So I think everybody on both sides of the Atlantic are very, very excited about this formula, about what’s about to happen. So I think we’re on the precipice of a new renaissance here.”