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Action Express Cadillacs Break Clear in Opening Hour

Felipe Nasr leads Filipe Albuquerque after one hour; Risi Ferrari out front in GTLM…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Felipe Nasr shot into a clear lead ahead of his Action Express Racing teammate Filipe Albuquerque in the first hour of Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Pole-sitter Nasr consolidated his front-row grid spot in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R while Albuquerque, who started third, worked his way past Ricky Taylor’s Team Penske Acura DPi after 20 minutes.

The Cadillac pair led through the opening round of pit stops, with Nasr running 17 seconds ahead of Albuquerque heading into hour two of the 10-hour race.

Behind them, Taylor switched third place with his Penske teammate Dane Cameron; the two Acura ARX-05s running around half a minute off the lead car.

They had been tailed for much of the opening stint by the two Joest-run Mazda RT24-P DPi cars, which arrived in the pits simultaneously during the first round of stops.

This led to the No. 77 car, with Timo Bernhard at the helm, overshooting its pit stall and dropping to tenth at a loss of some 30 seconds.

The GT Le Mans class has been led since the start by Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 GTE which started from pole in the hands of James Calado.

After Calado controlled the opening 45 minutes from pole, the Ferrari works driver ceded his net advantage to the two Ford GTs, which waited for an extra five laps to make their first pit calls.

When the two Ganassi-run cars eventually came in after 41 and 42 laps, Calado’s co-driver Alessandro Pier Guidi cycled back into the lead, ahead of Westbrook in the No. 67 Ford and Fred Makowiecki in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.

Two GTLM cars made early pit stops, with the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE pitting just over halfway through the stint.

BMW’s sister No. 24 car, which started second, then went behind the wall with an apparent front-end problem after Philipp Eng dropped from second to seventh on the road.

In GT Daytona, Corey Lewis led the first stint in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo despite coming under sustained pressure from Jeff Westphal in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

Westphal started from third but quickly dispatched Ben Keating’s No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 to slot in behind Lewis.

In the all-ORECA LMP2 scrap, PR1/Mathisen Motorsports’ Matt McMurry overtook Performance Tech Motorsports’ Kyle Masson shortly before the first hourly milestone.

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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