With the night fading into the dawn at the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona, it seemed as though the full course cautions of earlier were but a dream as Wayne Taylor Racing held the lead ahead of the Chip Ganassi duo.
The 13th hour started off under caution due to incidents in the previous 60 minutes but it didn’t take long for the field to get back to green flag racing and an almighty battle between Scott Dixon in the #02 Chip Ganassi Ford EcoBoost and Jordan Taylor in the #10 Wayne Taylor Corvette DP. At points they were touching going off the speedway onto the infield section but somehow, Dixon remained ahead.
However, 35 minutes into the 13th hour, the race was taken back to yellow following an incident for the #1 ESM HPD which saw it go off track and have to limp back to the pits. Thankfully that caution period only lasted ten minutes but it could have gone straight back to yellow at the restart as the Michael Shank Racing Ligier ran straight on at the international horseshoe and hit the tyre barriers. The car managed to get going again.
Just after the Ligier recovered to the pits, Jordan Taylor and the whole pit crew for the #10 managed to pull off a lightning fast pit stop to jump Scott Dixon and move into the lead of the race.
After that, the whole of Daytona seemed to calm down and settle into a rhythm of close, fair battling with a few minor battles but nothing of any note.
That is until the 15th hour of the race when the #7 Ford DP of Starworks Motorsport ground to a halt at the Western Horseshoe with Brendon Hartley reporting that something let go in the engine. The resulting 15 minute full course caution saw the racing neutralised but after the green flag went out, lead battles sprung up across the field.
In the top prototype class, the Taylor’s continued to wage war with the pair of Ganassi Fords with Max ‘the Axe’ Angelelli trying to fight his way out of a Ganassi sandwich and into the lead of the race.
Further down the order in the GTLM class, the action was just as intense as the #25 BMW Z4 GTE launched into a war with the #3 Corvette of Antonio Garcia to try and gain the upper hand in the top GT category. That battle would only be resolved towards the end of the 16th hour as multiple pit stops saw the #3 go down to third, Dirk Werner in the #25 take the lead and the hard charging Faken Tires Porsche sit in second with Wolf Henzler.
In Prototype Challenge, the racing was quieter than many of the other categories but that is a testament to the intensity the top three were displaying in ensuring they held onto their positions with their fingertips. James Gue held onto the lead in the CORE Autosport machine with a handy gap to Novich in the PR1/Mathiasen car and Drissi in the BAR1 Motorsport entry.
Finally GT Daytona and proof if any was needed that the Viper GT3 is a monster of a car is the domination that Ben Keating has shown to other members of the class and hardly looked troubled as he overtook the Scuderia Corsa car of Andrea Bertolini – who remains in second – as well as the Paul Miller Racing Audi, piloted for much of the hour by Dion von Moltke.