Kamui Kobayashi and Wayne Taylor Racing held a lead of half a minute over their closest pursuer as the 58th Rolex 24 at Daytona entered its final two hours.
He took over the car from Ryan Briscoe who overcame a pit lane penalty to retake the lead in the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R with just under four hours remaining.
The combination of Briscoe and Kobayashi has steadily increased the gap over Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P and the No. 5 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac driven by Loic Duval.
Those are the only three cars left on the overall lead lap. The top three have continued to set a blistering pace in a race that has seen just six full-course cautions. Consequently, the race distance record remains under threat.
Jonathan Bomarito was running in fourth, one lap down in the No. 55 Mazda when he was forced to come to pit road with an apparent mechanical issue.
The crew took the bodywork off the car briefly but buttoned it up again and sent Ryan Hunter-Reay out. Despite the delay, the No. 55 still ran fourth just ahead of Simon Pagenaud of Acura Team Penske, but three laps off the pace.
Ben Hanley and DragonSpeed held a lap advantage in the LMP2 category over the chasing Ben Keating out of the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports stable.
Keating was on a recovery drive after a minor accident with six hours and 20 minutes to go that cost the team three laps, but it has since been able to make up two of them.
Kyle Tilley was in the final class podium spot in the No. 18 Oreca 07 Gibson for Era Motorsport but running eight laps adrift of the leader.
BMW-Porsche GTLM Scrap Rages On
The race-long battle at the front of the GT Le Mans class between BMW Team RLL and Porsche GT Team continued to evolve into the final two hours.
John Edwards and Mathieu Jaminet traded the lead three times, starting with a pass from BMW driver Edwards on his Porsche counterpart on the tri-oval midway through Hour 20.
Jaminet then responded with a forceful move around the outside at the horseshoe hairpin half an hour later and held the advantage into a round of green-flag pit stops.
But the Porsche driver couldn’t eke out a substantial gap to Edwards, who replicated his earlier overtake in front of the Daytona grandstands in Hour 21.
Just before a round of green-flag stops heading into the final two hours, Edwards had a five-second lead over Vanthoor, who had taken over from Jaminet, while Matt Campbell was running third in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19.
Risi Competizione’s Ferrari 488 GTE Evo and the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R remain in contention, with the latter occasionally breaching the top three on its alternate pit strategy.
In GT Daytona, Andrea Caldarelli led in the Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo.
The other three cars on the lead lap are the WRT Speedstar Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, the GRT Magnus Lamborghini and the Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report.