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Derani Returns to Lead at Halfway Mark at Daytona

Derani, ESM lead overall at halfway in 2016 Rolex 24…

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Photo: Vision Sport Agency

Pipo Derani has resumed in the lead halfway at the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona, which settled down a bit in the 12th hour following chaotic 10th and 11th hours that saw several class leaders hit trouble.

Derani, in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Ligier JS P2 Honda, regained the lead following the 14th and thus far most recent full course caution period, passing Scott Pruett’s No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP just before the 12-hour mark.

The No. 2 car suffered early contact from the sister Ligier Honda from Michael Shank Racing, but recovered with good drives from Derani, Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek. Ed Brown is yet to drive.

Pruett then runs second ahead of four other DPs, three Corvette DPs and the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford, which have thus far have had largely trouble-free runs.

The attrition rate has gone up a bit in the Prototype class. The No. 55 Mazda retired just before the 12-hour mark with a valve train issue. The No. 50 Highway to Help Riley-BMW caused the most recent caution when it stopped on track.

Additionally, the second Ganassi Riley-Ford, the defending champion No. 02 car, went behind the wall in the ninth hour with a full brake change and is now down seven laps.

The Shank Ligier Honda retired in the tenth hour.

Prototype Challenge has also largely been a battle of survival, with the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry thus far having a clean run and leading a majority of the race. Stephen Simpson of JDC/Miller Motorsports, however, has been closing on Nicholas Boulle in the PR1 car.

With the top nine cars still on the lead lap in GT Le Mans, the lead has ebbed and flowed for most of the race. Scuderia Corsa’s new Ferrari 488 GTE, in the hands of Alessandro Pier Guidi, led at the 12-hour mark but on an off sequence strategy.

Both factory Porsches, the No. 3 Corvette and the No. 100 BMW have also been in podium contention thus far.

The complexion of GT Daytona changed once the two Lamborghinis crashed into each other in the 11th hour. Paul Miller Racing has changed the rear suspension, left front toe link and rear bodywork of its Huracán GT3, while Change Racing was also hard at work surveying the damage to its car, primarily on the left rear, after its second accident of the weekend.

The No. 23 The Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, with Alex Riberas driving, led halfway following an impressive comeback drive from an earlier three-minute, 34-second penalty in the first hour for an improper pass around procedure.

Depending on the pit stop cycle, the Frikadelli Porsche, TRG-AMR Aston Martin, WeatherTech AJR Porsche, No. 6 Stevenson Audi and No. 97 Turner BMW have also factored into podium positions.

There are six confirmed retirements, both Mazdas, the DeltaWing, the Shank Ligier Honda, and the No. 54 CORE and No. 88 Starworks PC cars.

The polesitting SMP Racing BR Engineering BR01 Nissan has been in and out of the garage repeatedly, and the No. 96 Turner BMW has had intermittent gearbox issues.

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

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