Daytona 24: Derani leads at the six hour mark
The 57th running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona is well and truly underway, with the first six hours of the race done and dusted.
Polesitter Oliver Jarvis kept the lead into Turn 1 in the #77 Mazda, but conceded the lead to Acura Team Penske's Juan Pablo Montoya during the opening hour, with the switch coming after the first set of green flag pit stops, having passed his team-mate Ricky Taylor earlier on.
The opening 60 minutes saw an intense battle for the DPi lead with the top seven cars covered by a little under three seconds, however as hours ticked by, it was Fernando Alonso in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R who surged into the lead come the second hour of the race.
The Spaniard managed to open up a 20-second lead, at times lapping more than a second quicker than his nearest rivals, only for a caution to erase that advantage.
That caution, casued by the #24 RLL BMW M8 GTE, which came to a halt in the pitlane exit, forced the leaders into the pits. After 15-minutes under the yellow flags, it was the #77 Mazda Team Joest of Rene Rast that seized the advantage to lead at the restart with the field shuffled.
At that point Helio Castroneves behind the wheel of the #7 Acura Team Penske car was second ahead of team-mate Dane Cameron, followed by the #31 Action Express of Eric Curran, then Alonso and the #55 Mazda of Harry Tincknell.
Alonso and Tincknell quickly deposed Curran before Alonso mounted a challenge on Cameron to snatch third as the three-hour mark passed. Alonso's pace only improved with time and the former Formula 1 driver moved up to second, dispatching Castroneves, before retaking the lead from Rast with a brave out-braking manoeuvre.
Another round of green flag stops saw Alonso retain the lead and he pulled out another large gap before a third caution caused by Will Owen in the Juncos Racing Cadillac went wide at Turn 1 and required marshals help to recover the car.
Kamui Kobayashi took over from Alonso at the fifth hour mark and kept the lead until minutes before the sixth hour when Pipo Derani in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac took the lead following a fourth caution caused by a clash between the #52 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson and the #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports, having decided to stay out whilst the other DPi leaders stopped.
At hour six, Derani holds the lead from Kobayashi, Montoya sits third ahead of Timo Bernhard fourth and Ricky Taylor fifth.
In the LMP2 category Robert Gonzalez (#18 ORECA) holds an advantage over team-mate Ben Hanley with Robert Masson third for Performance Tech Motorsports.
Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche 911 RSR holds the GTLM class lead ahead of Oliver Gavin in the #4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R.
The #99 NGT Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R saw its race end early and was the only retirement after six hours, having suffered an engine failure into Turn 1, erupting into a cloud of white smoke and spilling oil on the track surface with Jurgen Haering behind the wheel.
The oil spill caught several drivers off guard, including GTLM leader James Calado in the #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari, who spun out.
The engine failure was the culmination of a run of bad luck in the early stages for NGT Motorsports, which included a brief spell behind the pit wall and a collision with the tyre barrier on the infield section.
The #29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Ricky Feller holds the GTD lead, followed by #71 Mercedes-AMG GT3 car of Maximilian Buhk and the #73 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Nicholas Boulle, third.
The #57 Acura NSX of Meyer Shank Racing holds fourth with Simona de Silvestro chasing down Boulle, having escaped a clash with Katherine Legge (#55 Mazda) when the pair clashed, spinning Legge around.