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Pagenaud Holds Halfway Lead in MSR Acura

Meyer Shank Racing leads Rolex 24 at halfway as several GTP cars remain in contention…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

Meyer Shank Racing led the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the race reached its halfway point, with Simon Pagenaud holding a 21-second advantage at the head of the GTP class.

Most of the nine starting LMDh cars remain in contention for overall honors heading into the second half with Acura, Cadillac and Porsche teams running on the lead lap.

Pagenaud ran out front in the No. 60 Acura ARX-06 that he shares with Helio Castroneves, Colin Braun and Tom Blomqvist, picking up five Michelin Endurance Cup points for MSR.

Alexander Sims was the Frenchman’s closest pursuer in second for Cadillac squad Action Express Racing, while Louis Deletraz ran third for Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport.

Dane Cameron’s fourth-placed No. 6 Porsche 963 sat approximately one minute behind the leading Acura with 12 hours to go.

Blomqvist’s impressive tenth-hour charge for MSR was interrupted by the fifth full course caution of the race, after the No. 92 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 911 GT3 R stopped at the side of the track with a mechanical issue.

After a round of GTP pit stops, Jack Aitken moved to the front for Action Express, ahead of Braun and Porsche driver Mathieu Jaminet.

Braun put the pressure on Aitken and then Sims, eventually overtaking the latter just before the 11-hour mark to restore MSR’s advantage.

The gap increased over the next half-hour, although a sixth yellow just before the midway point interrupted Pagenaud’s getaway from the No. 31 Cadillac, reducing the lead of around 20 seconds that had built up.

Deletraz found a way past Cameron to put WTR Andretti ahead of the No. 6 Porsche, which is the only one of the German manufacturer’s cars to have evaded trouble.

The two Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs are also in contention, although the No. 01 encountered a setback when Scott Dixon picked up a drive-through penalty for leaving the pit box before the fuel hose had detached.

The No. 24 BMW M Hybrid V8 continued to run outside the top five but didn’t drop more than one lap behind the overall leader.

In GTD Pro, Ross Gunn led at the halfway mark in the No. 23 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3.

The Aston had been battling with the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD, but a shredded right-rear tire forced Corvette Racing’s Jordan Taylor to perform a costly slow lap of Daytona International Speedway.

The American driver made a further stop so the Corvette mechanics could change the right-rear brake, under the impression that the corresponding caliper had been damaged when the tire carcass came off.

That gave Heart of Racing a clear lead in GTD Pro, with several GTD cars running between its No. 23 Aston and the second-placed WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, which incurred a tenth-hour drive-through for running over equipment in the pits.

The GTD leader on 12 hours was the Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG, although several other cars remain competitive including the Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3, the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin and Winward Racing’s Mercedes-AMG.

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports had a strong opening half to lead most of the LMP2 race with its No. 52 Oreca 07 Gibson, while Sean Creech Motorsport held the top spot in LMP3.

Positions After 12 Hours

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

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