It didn’t take long for Ricky Taylor to get his No. 10 Acura dispatched from the lead, and after a raft of driver changes in green-flag pit stops Scott Dixon took over the No. 01 Cadillac Racing V-Series.R from Sebastien Bourdais after Bourdais put it into the lead early in the hour. Dane Cameron is running second in the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsports 963, followed by Jack Aitken in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing.
“We knew we were going to have a fight in our hand and we do,” said Bourdais after his opening stint. “I think the car shows that it’s got plenty of pace, which we’ve never been in doubt of that. But when it comes down to interacting with the other cars, we really have to outbrake ourselves to get by because we are barely keeping up in the straights. It’s good we’re leading and we can definitely put on a fight, but it’s the hard way. It is what it is. We knew we had a strong package as far as optimizing the performance level we have at our disposal, but it won’t be easy if it comes down to a drag race in the last 30 minutes.”
The hour ended under caution after Steven Thomas made heavy impact with the wall exiting the Le Mans Chicane in the No. 11 TDS Racing ORECA LMP2 car. The car suffered a lot of damage, but Thomas walked under his own power to the waiting response vehicle. He was evaluated and released from the care center.
That’s a hard crash for Steven Thomas. 😳
— NASCAR on NBC (@NASCARonNBC) January 27, 2024
Marvin Kirchöfer has pushed the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports McLaren 720S GT3 Evo into the GTD PRO lead, followed by the two Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller Motorsports Z06 GT3.Rs. GTD leader Parker Thompson in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 is separating the Corvettes and the McLaren.
Many teams are double-stinting tires in the early part of the race in order to have fresh sets at the end; the challenge is that the temperatures are as high as they will likely see in the race.
“It’s bad. It’s hard to [single-stint] at the moment, a set of tires,” said Nick Tandy, freshly out of the No. 7 Porsche Penske Motorsport 963. “I think even after the first stop there were cars obviously on a double. The No. 10 stayed out, and you see what happens – it’s not tenths, its seconds in the end. Whether you do two tires or four tires, you’ve got to start doubling tires because, simply, if we have 30, 35 stints, we have 21 sets of tires. So if you want to have three nice sets for the end, or even more, it has to be done. Looking at the forecast, it doesn’t look like it’s going cool down particularly much at night, if the cloud comes over and keeps the temp in the track. It’s tough, but I mean, the good thing is that Michelin has opened up the window for when we can use the medium and the soft tire so it’s more up to the teams. If the conditions are hot, then you can perhaps get away with a little bit more.”