Rolex 24 at Daytona 2020 – the middle hours

The opening race in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2020, Rolex 24 at Daytona, had hit a slow phase with two and a half hours of the green flag before something again happened on the track.

Performance Tech Motorsports #38 went off the track in Turn 3 and had to use help to get back to the pits since the rear wheels couldn’t pull the car out of the tire barrier.

The restart of the race was exciting, where both Acura Team Penske #7 and Riley Motorsports Mercedes #74, and shortly after that also Acura Team Penske #6, all spun around in Turn 2.

The LMP2 car from Starworks Motorsport #8 had to go back to the garage as it was losing water from the cooler. The car got repaired but it cost them a few laps.

Black Swan Racing Porsche #54 kept the lead, but they had a little spin in Turn 3 after about nine hours of racing, but they could continue by themselves.

Daytona night
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

Corvette Racing #4 pitted and got back to the garage as the car lost some oil. It became a long repair, but the mechanics did everything they could to get it ready again so that they could collect more data and potentially find more mistakes.

Wright Motorsports Porsche #16 had a spin in Turn 6, but it got back to the track quickly.

Ten hours into the race, we got the third Full Course Yellow as the GEAR Racing Lambo with Tatiana Calderon stalled in NASCAR Turn 4. The race director opted to send the Safety Car out since Tatiana couldn’t drive away from the spot. The car got towed back to the garage, where they found a problem with the fuel pump. It cost them many laps before it was ready to go back out.

When the race got restarted, it didn’t take long before a message from the stewards popped on the screen: a drive-through penalty to Mazda Team Joest #77 for overtaking under a yellow flag. The penalty sent them away from the lead of the race, but fortunately, they remained on the lead lap.

Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Barry Cantrell

The problems for GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini #11 continued, and they had to get back to the garage. Luckily for them, the repair only took about six minutes, and they could go back to the track. But it still cost the defending champion in the GTD category.

Black Swan Racing Porsche #54 got themselves a Drive-through penalty for refuelling the car while it was up on the air jacks, which is strictly prohibited.

After twelve hours, Mustang Sampling JDC Cadillac #5 was in front in DPi, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports #52 was still leading the LMP2 class, BMW Team RLL #24 had the lead in GTLM, and Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 was leading in GTD. The twelve-hour point was also the second time to give points for Endurance Cup.

So far, we had only lost two cars, both were Aston Martin. Heart of Racing #23 never came back out, while the damages on Aston Martin Racing #98 was too big for the team to repair.

Wright Motorsports Porsche #16
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Barry Cantrell

The leader in GTD Paul Miller Racing Lambo #48 ran into trouble when they, by mistake, put the car into gear when the mechanics were about to change tires. It resulted in a Drive-through, as well as losing the lead of the race.

ERA Motorsport #18 also got a Drive-through, but it was for speeding one kilometre per hour too fast in the pitlane. Harsh, but the speed limit is absolute.

Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac #10 took the lead, with eleven hours left, when Kobayashi overtook Joao Barbosa in Mustang Sampling JDC Cadillac #5 from the outside, on the way into Turn 1.

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 had to get back to the garage due to a broken splitter. The repair didn’t take a long time. But in the GTD category, such things would still make you end up out of the top ten.

Acura Team Penske #6
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Richard Dole

Tower Motorsport by Starworks Motorsports #8, unfortunately, had to go back to the garage when the car began to be unstable on the track, where it jumped up and down on the straight. They had tried to change the nose, but it wasn’t enough and they tried to do more repair. Thus, the Rolex watch got further and further away from David Heinemeier Hansson.

The chance to win a Rolex watch also began to disappear for AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus #12, when they got back to the garage due to a damaged front. Shane van Gisbergen had made a mistake on his out lap on cold tires, and it took a long time for the team to get the car ready again.

After BMW Team RLL #24 had led the GTLM class through the last hours, Porsche #912 managed to snatch the lead, with about nine hours left.

In GTD we were also back to having a Porsche leader as Pfaff Motorsports #9 reclaimed the lead, followed by GRT Magnus Lambo #44.

Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing #10 had slowly but surely built up their lead to over fifty seconds in the DPi class, after about five hours of racing under a green flag.

GEAR Racing Powered by Grasser Lamborghini #19
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Barry Cantrell

In LMP2, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports #52 had a half minute lead down to DragonSpeed #81. But such leads meant nothing in the GT categories.

Porsche #912 was in front in GTLM, with a bit over a second lead to BMW Team RLL #24, and then Porsche 911 and Corvette Racing #3 were both within 18 seconds from the lead.

In GTD, the lead changed back and forth, depending on the pitstop strategies, where four cars were on the lead lap. But on the other hand, a pitstop would cost about a lap, where there were six more cars within the lap.

Porsche #911 & #912
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

About eight hours before the race ended, there was a drama in GTD when Pfaff Motorsports Porsche #9 had to go back to the garage. The car couldn’t drive and had to be pushed. The mechanics didn’t even rush to push the car, so it could indicate a big problem.

BMW Team RLL #24 retook the lead in GTLM again when Jesse Krohn outbraked Laurens Vanthoor in Porsche #912 in Turn 3. And it wasn’t long until the black BMW became just a dot on the horizon.

JDC-Miller Motorsports #85 got a 20-second Stop & Go for driving 30 kph too fast in the pitlane. It almost as if the driver forgot to push the button, or it disengaged by mistake.

After sixteen hours of racing, Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac #10 was in front in DPi, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports #52 in LMP2, BMW Team RLL #24 in GTLM and Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 in GTD.

Eight hours left…

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