A scintillating out lap helped propel Filipe Albuquerque into lead of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona at the end of the first hour.
During the first pit-stops Albuquerque, piloting the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, got the jump on polesitter and race leader Renger van der Zande in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac to lead by 4.4 seconds at the end of the first hour.
Despite early opposition from the #7 Team Penske Acura, the Cadillac teams soon locked out the first four places.
Even before the race had started the #59 GTD Wright Motorsport Porsche of Robert Renauer got caught out by cold tyres and spun into the wall on the formation lap.
The car had still not appeared at the end of the hour.
At the start van der Zande lead away from the start with #7 Acura of Helio Castroneves glued to his rear wing.
After a troubled qualifying session where an electrical problem restricted them to 7th place on the grid, Felipe Nasr in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac was determined to drag the car to where it belonged.
By lap three he had moved up to third place and was pressuring Castroneves for second and soon got past with an ambitious overtake around the outside of the International Horseshoe hairpin on lap 7.
Castroneves dropped another place to Albuquerque two corners later and then dropped behind the last Cadillac, the #90 Spirit of Daytona of Tristan Vautier in the pits.
Alex Brundle made the season’s first pitstop on lap 17 when the #78 Jackie Chan JOTA Racing ORECA to change the front nose.
van der Zande pitted on lap 19 to refuel, followed by the rest of the leaders on the following laps.
Yet despite the quick stop, by the time the stops had filtered out it was Albuquerque who ended up with a 2.4 second lead over van der Zande.
Once out in front the #5 quickly pulled away helped by his fellow Cadillac drivers fighting amongst themselves over second place with van der Zande just holding off Vautier with Nasr close behind.
Fernando Alonso‘s first sports car stint saw him end the hour in the same place he’d started 14th place just ahead of his United Autosports team-mate Bruno Senna.
Despite making up a few positions at the start, Alonso soon dropped back but reported no problems and his best lap was half a second off the race’s fastest.
In GTLM it was a impressive first hour for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.
With team owner Chip Ganassi presiding as the race’s Grand Marshall, Ganassi was pleased to see his cars dominate most of the opening hour 1-2 with Joey Hand in #66 leading Richard Westbrook in the #67.
By the time of the first pit-stops they had a lead of 15 seconds from the two Corvettes, with Jan Magnussen in the #3 leading team-mate Oliver Gavin in the #4.
However, a poor stop for Westbrook dropped him to the rear of GTLM field as Alexander Sims demonstrated the pace of the new BMW M8 GTE by ending the hour in fourth.
In GTD Ferrari exercised a similar dominance to Ford as Miguel Molina lead in the #82 Risi Competitzione 488 ahead of polesitter Daniel Serra in the #51 Spirit of Race example.
Ferrari had the advantage of balance of Performance but they lost out at the pit-stops they enabling the #29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsports of Sheldon van der Linde to grab the lead at the end of the first hour.
Dominik Baumann held second in the #14 Lexus RC-F ahead of Serra who had dropped to third.
TOP 3 AFTER 1 HOUR
5 Mustang Sampling Racing – Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque, Christian Fittipaldi
10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta – Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor, Ryan Hunter-Reay
90 VisitFlorida Racing – Eddie Cheever III, Matt McMurry, Tristan Vautier
66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing – Dirk Mueller, Joey Hand, Sebastien Bourdais
3 Corvette Racing- Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia, Mike Rockenfeller
4 Corvette Racing- Oliver Gavin, Tommy Milner, Marcel Fassler
29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsports – Sheldon van der Linde, Kelvin van der Linde, Jeffrey Schmidt, Christopher Mies
14 3GT Racing- Dominik Baumann, Kyle Marcelli, Bruno Junqueira, Phillip Frommenwiler
51 Spirit of Race- Daniel Serra, Paul Dalla Lana, Pedro Lamy, Mathias Lauda