Nighttime at the Rolex 24 at Daytona can offer a methodical plod along as the halfway point approaches. When rain beckons, that plod can turn frantic.
With 14 hours remaining on the clock, Felipe Nasr held an ebbing and flowing overall lead in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963, with Jack Aitken’s No. 31 Cadillac drifting between 2.5s and 4.5s behind as the pit cycle began in earnest when the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin came to a brief stop on track at the hands of Marco Sorensen.
That lead would only lengthen by the close of the hour — Aitken 12s adrift himself as another pit cycle began again with just over 13 hours remaining.
The No. 27 Aston’s woes only increased as time wore on, the car again falling deadstick and needing to be pushed down pitlane, sinking further down the GTD order.
“The car shut off twice out on the track,” Sorensen told IMSA Radio. “Then we came into the box and we had the same issue. We’re trying to find out what the actual electronic issue is right now because I…lost power steering when I was going through a quick corner and went basically straight. Not ideal for now, but now [we’re] doing a bigger service because we lost so many laps. Yeah, I don’t think we’re going to have a chance at a win anymore, but if we can just get the car out and get some valuable data for running, then we’ll do that.”
Pato O’ward continued the dominant lead in LMP2, continuously opening the No. 2’s lead up past 43s in the first quarter of the hour before Ben Keating took the wheel at their mid-hour stop.
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport Acura ARX-06 made a surprisingly quick return to the circuit just before the hour’s halfway point. Marcus Ericsson took the car around for just a handful of laps before reentering pitlane for brief checks, now 83 laps down. Troubles also continued for the Pfaff McLaren — a lengthy stop with the crew working inside the car’s nose before appearing to be pushed behind the wall once again.
In GTD PRO, James Calado (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari) slipstreamed by the No. 77 Porsche of Laurin Heinrich approaching the Le Mans Chicane and took the class lead before motoring away to a more than 10s lead over Alexander Sims in the No. 3 Corvette as time went on, the Porsche sinking back down the order to fifth in class.
GTD leader Daniel Morad (No. 57 Winward Mercedes) remained in a commanding class lead, 15s ahead of the No. 70 in second as the hour drew to a close.