The race debut for the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs couldn’t have started much worse, with the second Ford GT having an issue in the second hour of the 54th Rolex 24 at Daytona.
The team reported brake line issues on the No. 66 Ford GT, driven by Joey Hand. The car spent an inordinate amount of time in the pits, and by the time Hand returned to the track at the one hour, 30-minute mark in the race, he stopped on course in between NASCAR Turns 1 and 2.
As Hand stopped the car on course, it brought out the race’s second full course caution of the race.
The team’s No. 67 Ford GT, in the hands of Ryan Briscoe, at least has managed to set the fastest lap in the GT Le Mans class at 1:44.974 in its return to the track. It lost 17 laps in the first hour with gearbox issues, and already has been in and out of the garage.
There was even more drama following the restart, with two separate incidents featuring some uncharacteristic issues.
Joao Barbosa ran wide at the International Horseshoe in the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP trying to pass GTLM cars on the outside, locked up, and barely nudged the tire barrier. He restarted without losing a lap.
Meanwhile Michael Shank Racing’s John Pew contacted the sister Ligier JS P2 Honda of Tequila Patron ESM’s Johannes van Overbeek into the Bus Stop chicane, which pitched “JVO” into a spin. Pew and van Overbeek had taken over from Ozz Negri and Pipo Derani on the most recent pit stops.
It wasn’t all bad for Ganassi though, with Scott Dixon emerging at the front of the field following the latest Prototype round of pit stops in the No. 02 Riley-Ford.
Other class leaders included Stephen Simpson in PC for JDC/Miller Motorsports, Nick Tandy in GTLM for Porsche and Bryce Miller in GTD for Paul Miller Racing with its new Lamborghini Huracán GT3. All three also led at the end of the first hour.