The #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley Daytona Prototype of Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Scott Dixon leads the 12 Hours of Sebring at the halfway mark, after inheriting the lead in the latest round of pit-stops.
Hours four to six were characterised by long periods of green flag running that included plenty of close quarters racing in each of the four classes.
2014 Sebring winner Pruett took the lead of the race heading into the halfway pit cycle, after Christian Fittipaldi had asserted himself firmly at the head of the field in the #5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP.
Fittipaldi had initially captured the lead with a daring move on the inside of Mike Rockenfeller (#90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP) at the final turn, and proceeded to build a significant margin over the 2013 DTM champion.
The #10 Konica Minolta Corvette for Wayne Taylor Racing entered the fourth hour at the sharp end of the field, but a lengthy pit stop for a brake pad and disc change set the team back a lap. Ricky Taylor is now leading the recovery mission in fifth place overall.
Another car to encounter issues was the #31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Eric Curran had taken over from Max Papis in fourth place when the right-front wheel became dislodged. Curran nursed the Corvette back to the pits, but the resulting bodywork damage left the second Action Express entry with a hefty time deficit. Dane Cameron currently sits in eighth place.
The GT Le Mans class was the main focus of attention at the start of the fourth hour, as Nick Tandy (#911 Porsche 911 RSR) led a seven-strong train of cars in the category’s leading battle. Second-placed Ryan Briscoe was bumped down the order when he uncharacteristically spun the #3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R on the exit of turn seven. The caution for Curran’s limping Corvette broke up the close-quarters action, and allowed German driver Wolf Henzler to forge a comfortable 11 second lead over the #911 car, now in the hands of Richard Lietz.
The #25 BMW Team RLL entry, sporting a nostalgic livery as a nod to the marque’s famous 1975 race win, had originally set itself as a class podium contender until a suspension issue just before halfway halted Dirk Werner’s progress.
In the Prototype Challenge class it is the #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 that leads proceedings, with the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports car of Conor Daly doing the chasing. PR1’s Andrew Palmer took the class lead on the five hour mark and went on to produce one of the stand-out performances of the race so far, lapping almost the entire PC field. Erstwhile front-runners CORE Autosport were initially part of the lead battle, but a spin for Jon Bennett at turn 7 saw the team drop to fourth in class.
GT Daytona has arguably been the closest of the four classes, and for a while during the fifth hour was placed at centre stage as a three-way dice for the lead was played out between the two Alex Job Racing Porsches and the #44 Magnus Racing Porsche of Andy Lally. Magnus Racing’s race was then dealt a severe blow as the team rushed to repair damage from a heavy shunt caused by a right-front suspension failure.
Class leaders after Six Hours
#01 Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates – Ford Ecoboost Riley DP – Scott Pruett
#05 Action Express Racing – Corvette DP – Joao Barbosa
#90 VisitFlorida.com – Corvette DP – Richard Westbrook
#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports – ORECA FLM09 – Tom Kimber-Smith
#38 Performance Tech Racing – ORECA FLM09 – Conor Daly
#54 CORE Autosport – ORECA FLM09 – Colin Braun
GT Le Mans
#911 Porsche North America – Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Pilet
#17 Team Falken Tire – Porsche 911 RSR – Patrick Long
#3 Corvette Racing – Chevrolet Corvette C7.R – Antonio Garcia
#23 Alex Job Racing – Porsche 911 GT America – Ian James
#22 Alex Job Racing – Porsche 911 GT America – Cooper MacNeil
#007 TRG-AMR – Aston Martin Vantage GT3 – Brandon Davis