Nick Tandy found his hard work to get the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 back within a lap of the Rolex 24 At Daytona leaders for naught as the car stopped on course. Tandy had to reset, but was passed by the leaders in the process, going back to two laps down. It happened again, then things got worse — a plume of smoke exited out of the back, then expanded in volume as the car gave a wiggle. The No. 6 is now completely out of contention with two hours left, Porsche stating that it was a gearbox issue. The final incident as the Porsche coasted brought out a full-course caution.
All the leaders pitted, and both the Chip Ganassi Racing No. 02 Cadillac and the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, now only one lap down, also taking a top-off. The fight between the two main protagonists resumed immediately on the restart, Simon Pagenaud in the No. 60 MSR Acura maintaining the lead over Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 01 CGR Cadillac, and Earl Bamber in the No. 02 keeping them in sight.
Green, green, green!#IMSA | @DAYTONA pic.twitter.com/MdqMuri85f
— #IMSA (@IMSA) January 29, 2023
Tommy Milner left pit lane during the caution with the GTD PRO lead, but lost it immediately as the No. 3 Corvette got a slow restart. Ben Barnicoat in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus and Maro Engel in the No. 79 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG swallowing up the Corvette and taking up their own race. Milner came back to get past the Mercedes briefly, but was sitting third with two hours left in the race.
By contrast, Roman De Angelis was cruising comfortably in the GTD lead with the Heart of Racing No. 27 Aston Martin Vantage, having the furiously battling GTD PRO top three in between him and second-place Indy Dontje in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG. Nicki Thiim in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Aston Martin ran third.
The LMP2 race was a four-way fight with two hours left between the the No. 88 AF Corse car; the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry, Paul-Loup Chatin having pushed that car up to second; The No. 04 CrowdStrike Racing ORECA; and the No. 35 TDS Racing car.
Class leaders after the 22nd hour:
GTP: Simon Pagenaud, No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-06
LMP2: Matthieu Vaxiviere, No. 88 AF Corse ORECA
LMP3: Nico Varrone, No 17 AWA Duqueine
GTD PRO: Ben Barnicoat, No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3
GTD: Roman De Angelis, No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage
Notes and quotes:
• Roger Penske, on the possibility of WEC Hypercar manufacturers participating in IMSA competition: “With the race at Sebring, to see all those brands on the same day or days will be amazing. Hopefully, we can see that continue, even being able to compete in IMSA, because right now it’s really two series and we only come together here in the U.S. with Ferrari and those groups right now at Sebring. But I think the vision that WEC has, and also Jim (France) and the team have from the standpoint of IMSA. So I think there’s an opportunity longer term to really meld this thing into one big series, where everybody’s competing at the same time. It’s a step — I think we made the first step. And now we’ll go to the next step when we see how competitive this is.”