The halfway points of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale has been marked by a lengthy caution period for track repairs at Turn 3. The first half of the 10-hour Petit Le Mans has come and gone, but better weather in this year’s event doesn’t mean a boring race.
At the front of the field, it’s been a three-way fight for the race win between both Action Express Racing Daytona Prototypes and the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier. Starting from pole, Olivier Pla proved the Ligier fastest and still holds the fastest lap, nearly 1.5-seconds faster than the nearest competitor. Once John Pew jumped into the car, Dane Cameron and Eric Curran took command in the No. 31, leading for two-hours ahead of their No. 5 team mates.
After falling behind a lap during Pew’s stint, Pla jumped back in the No. 60 during the first full course yellow and went on a tear through the field. Pla handed the car over to Ozz Negri, Jr. during green flag pit stops just before the yellow flag. An ongoing issue with the Ligier is causing tire-change issues on the left rear. Interestingly, after being asked about it on live radio, team owner, Michael Shank said he didn’t want to say what the exact issue was.
On the other side of the spectrum, the Deltawing, No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette and No. 55 Mazda Prototype have retired with issues with their machines.
In the Prototype Challenge class, it’s all about the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen and No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entries.
Just a half hour into the race, issues for the LMPC class have struck a number of entries. The No. 7 Starworks entry went behind the pit wall and was deemed too damage to continue racing, forcing a retirement. Tommy Drissi brought out the first of three full course cautions after getting the No. 20 Bar1 Motorsports Oreca stuck in the gravel. The championship leading No. 8 Starworks entry is scored many laps down after repairing a brake issue.
After five hours of GT Le Mans action, the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari paces the championship leading No. 4 Corvette. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner are slated to win the teams and driver championship for the No. 4 as their two championship contenders, the No. 67 Ford Gt and sister No. 3 Corvette have encountered issues; the former many laps down and the latter retired.
So far it’s been a split day with the Porsche North America team, who have struggled for speed throughout the weekend. The No. 911 is scored third with Richard Lietz currently behind the wheel after stints from Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet. The No. 912 made contact with the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi, bringing out the second full course yellow of the event.
In GT Daytona, the German manufacturers have been the strongest over the length of five hours. Currently Andy Lally leads in the Magnus Audi, continuing the strong first half of the race. Porsches have been pacing the track quickly with the No. 23 Alex Job Racing machine currently scored in second with Mario Farnbacher in the cockpit. Stevenson Motorsports have shown pace on the track and in the pit lane with the Nos. 6 and 9 Audis running near the sharp end of the GTD class.
The contact with the No. 44 wasn’t the only drama in GTD. Early in the race, the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan experienced engine issues after contact with another car sent Corey Lewis off track.
Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen took a turn pacing the field with the No. 33 Dodge Viper currently scored third with Marc Miller driving.
With various class wins still up for grabs, the field goes back to green just 10-minutes after the five-hour mark…