Photo: Courtesy of IMSA

2018 Rolex 24 Daytona: 16 Hours Recap

By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer

DAYTONA BEACH, Florida — The middle eight hours of the 2018 Rolex 24 at Daytona had a decent amount of action that involved all three classes and some of the results were certainly shaken up.

The GTD class-leading No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 was given a stop and hold penalty for five minutes for a balance of performance violation. The team was determined to have refueled at their pit stops faster than the BoP regulations allowed for. The Audi was a lap ahead of the GTD field at the time and at the 2/3rds mark was 8th in class.

The second full course yellow of the race was called after nearly 10 hours had passed as the No. 52 AFS/PR1 Ligier LMP2 machine was in the tire barrier at the International Horseshoe while at the same time the No. 77 Mazda DPi was traveling slowly as well.

An interesting phenomenon took place just before halfway as the first two cars had full time Verizon IndyCar Series drivers in them (Graham Rahal and Simon Pagenaud) while the next two drivers on the timesheet were former IndyCar drivers in Christian Fittipaldi and Mike Conway. In fifth and sixth were former Mazda Road to Indy drivers Pipo Derani and Felix Rosenqvist.

At the halfway mark the No. 90 Cadillac DPi fell to last on the timing monitors while shortly thereafter the No. 78 Jackie Chan JOTA ORECA LMP2 hit the barriers with Ho-Pin Tung behind the wheel.

The No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi was retired from the race after almost 12 and a half hours while 30 minutes later the night went from bad to worse as Derani brought the No. 22 Nissan DPi to the pits with smoke coming from the engine bay. That car was retired soon thereafter and the pair of them will finish 48th and 49th out of 50 cars.

Meanwhile the No. 6 Team Penske Acura DPi needed an alternator on the car and spent time in the garage fixing that issue. Another full course yellow was called with the No. 73 GTD Porsche being slow on track.

Within the final hour before the 2/3rds mark of the race was upon us, the No. 7 Team Penske Acura DPi went to the garage with some damage after contact with the No. 31 Cadillac DPi. The No. 5 Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi leads by two laps after 16 hours. In GTLM the No. 67 and 66 are first and second while the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 leads GTD.

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A 2012 graduate of LSU, Christopher DeHarde primarily focuses on the NTT IndyCar Series and the WeatherTech Sports Car Championship. DeHarde has actively covered motorsports since 2014.