Simon Pagenaud overtook Sebastien Bourdais moments after a restart to put Meyer Shank Racing’s Acura ARX-06 into the Rolex 24 at Daytona lead with three hours to go.
After almost six hours of uninterrupted green flag running, the race fell under its ninth Full Course Yellow in the 21st hour when High Class Racing LMP2 driver Anders Fjordbach crashed at the Le Mans chicane.
The safety car phase helped Meyer Shank, which had fallen behind the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-LMDh due to another slow pit stop for the oil flushing procedure that Acura teams deployed at earlier stages.
With five hours to go, Pagenaud led Gansassi driver Scott Dixon by 40 seconds and increased the gap to almost one minute, however both drivers spent time at the head of the field due to their cars’ alternate pit strategies.
When Pagenaud pitted for the oil flush approaching three hours to go, the lead swung by the same margin in Dixon’s favor.
Ganassi pitted its No. 01 Cadillac just before the ninth FCY occurred, giving it the jump when the GTP front-runners came in together during the interruption. However, Pagenaud made an aggressive start to retake the lead, entering Turn 1 alongside Bourdais and punching into Turn 2 before his fellow Frenchman.
With three hours to go, the No. 02 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac also remained on the lead lap, while the No. 6 Porsche 963 made further progress on its recovery from earlier issues.
Nick Tandy out-braked Pagenaud into the chicane to put the No. 6 Porsche one lap down, putting the Penske factory squad one FCY away from returning to the mix.
The lead also changed in the GTD Pro class just after the restart, as Jules Gounon beat Tommy Milner into the Le Mans chicane to put the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo ahead of the factory No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD.
Over in GTD, Indy Dontje moved Winward Racing’s Mercedes-AMG back into the lead with an overtake on The Heart of Racing Aston Martin driver Roman De Angelis.
The Heart of Racing had just over 10 seconds in hand to Winward when the FCY came out.
Multiple Oreca 07 Gibsons were in LMP2 contention with three hours to go, including the cars from CrowdStrike Racing with Algarve Pro, AF Corse, PR1/Masthiasen Motorsports and the sole remaining TDS Racing entry.
Sean Creech Motorsport encountered a gearbox actuator issue while in the LMP3 lead, handing the upper hand to the No. 17 AWA Duqueine D08 Nissan early in hour 20.