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Acura Leads Tight DPi Battle as Rolex 24 Hits Halfway

All to race for with 12 hours to go at Daytona, as Penske plays Cadillacs in close DPi fight…

Photo: Michael Levitt/IMSA

Alexander Rossi was classified at the front of the Rolex 24 at Daytona field after a full course yellow shook up the DPi order at the race’s halfway point.

The Acura Team Penske driver was running in the lead shortly after Antonio Garcia’s GT Le Mans-class Corvette C7.R stopped on the banked section of Daytona International Speedway to trigger the eighth caution of the event.

Rossi, who is sharing the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 with Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor, led most of the 12th hour of a Rolex 24 that is now being controlled by Acura and Cadillac machinery.

Wayne Taylor Racing’s long-standing advantage held by Fernando Alonso and Kamui Kobayashi was taken away under a series of caution periods starting in the eighth hour.

These shuffled the field, although the WTR Cadillac returned to the front in hour 11 when Renger van der Zande cycled ahead in a caution period for the stopped Juncos Racing Cadillac DPi.

However, it swiftly dropped back to third behind the Acuras in the pits, and although Pipo Derani briefly overhauled the Penske 1-2, Rossi was named as the leader when the field was shaken up again by the most recent caution.

The first half of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opener was highlighted by a fiery retirement for the pole-sitting No. 77 Mazda RT24-P DPi in the seventh hour.

This came moments after the Joest squad’s sister No. 55 Mazda had experienced a fuel leak that bumped it off the lead lap, however that car has since recovered into the top five.

Problems also befell the No. 54 CORE autosport Nissan DPi which has lost several laps due to a gear shift problem.

Porsche and Corvette have shared out the lead in a restless GT Le Mans contest that has also involved BMW Team RLL and the Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE.

After multiple exchanges, the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR inherited the lead when Garcia’s Corvette ran out of fuel for the eighth caution.

This promoted the car driven by Frederic Makowiecki, Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet to the lead, while the No. 912 Porsche assumed second with Mathieu Jaminet at the helm.

In GT Daytona, the No. 33 Riley-entered Mercedes-AMG GT3 led at the halfway milestone from the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.

After 12 hours, the top 12 entries in the class were still running on the lead lap.

LMP2 continues to be dominated by DragonSpeed with the No. 18 Oreca 07 Gibson holding the class edge over the sister No. 81 car.

Positions After 12 Hours

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365, covering the FIA World Endurance Championship, GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, among other series.

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