Rolex 24 at Daytona Hours 5-8: Negri Leads into the Night

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A series of bold overtaking maneuvers by Oswlado Negri Jr put the Michael Shank Racing Ligier into the lead after eight hours of racing at the Rolex 24.

Negri went from third to first at the most recent restart, passing Ricky Taylor and Tony Kanaan in the leading Wayne Taylor and Chip Ganassi DPs.

The restart followed a 20 minute caution period caused by the #93 Dodge Viper which exited the track at the international horseshoe.

This bunched up the prototype field and led to a series of position changes, including a brief spell in the lead for Taylor who overtook three cars on the first green flag lap.

Michael Shank Racing led for most of the early night-time running. After two hours and twenty minutes in the car Olivier Pla barely broke a sweat as he stepped out of the red and white Ligier having restored his team’s early lead.

With 18 hours to go, a spin for the #26 BAR1 Motorsport car of Don Yount brought out the fifth caution of the event. However, it took a few moments before the flag was called, which caused some concern amongst fans and safety officers as the other cars streamed past at full speed.

The incident had occurred after the #26 got to the inside of Nick Tandy’s GTLM Porsche. The two made contact but the #911 continued unabated.

During the caution, the #55 Mazda ran into further problems as the car spluttered and failed to restart while stuck in the pit lane. It eventually got going, with Spencer Pigot aboard, but three laps down on the leader. A steering wheel installation issue added to the team’s woes, but a series of carefully managed caution periods saw Pigot bring the car within a lap of the leaders come the eight hour mark.

The Prototype Challenge class remained fairly quiet as the #52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport Oreca FLM09 continued to lead by 2 laps. In second was the #20 BAR1 Motorsports entry, which was arguably more focused on keeping those behind at bay than starting a challenge on the leader. The JDC-Miller Motorsports car that dominated the opening four hours reached the third distance marker just six seconds behind the BAR1 machine.

While the Porsches raced off into the near distance, the battle for third in GTLM proved to be a particular highlight of this four hour section with the #100 BMW Team RLL holding off a long train of manufacturers. Earl Bamber led at the eight hour mark, although the Corvettes were continuing their spirited attack on the 911 RSRs with Jan Magnussen running just two seconds behind. James Calado maintained the variety in third place, driving the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488.

Paul Miller Racing continued to dictate the GT Daytona race as Mirko Bortolotti turned his first laps aboard the #48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. At the four hour mark Spencer Pumpelly was second for Change Racing, while third placed Rene Rast continued to work away aboard the Magnus Racing Audi R8.

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