Daytona 24: Pipo Derani leads at halfway point, Mazda struck by reliability issues
The 2019 running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona has reached the halfway point, with the #31 Action Express Cadillac of Pipo Derani leading overall.
The Brazilian, in the Whelen Engineering machine, is being hunted by both WTR's driven by Jordan Taylor and Penske's Alexander Rossi, with the #10 Cadillac and #7 Acura less than five seconds behind.
The seventh hour brought mechanical disaster for both of the Mazda Team Joest cars. The #55 came to a halt with a suspected fuel leak but eventually got going again, now a lap down from the DPi leaders. The #77 was struck by another engine issue moments later. A suspected turbocharger failure brought Timo Bernhard to a screeching halt, ending the race of the car that set the track record earlier in the week.
With the Mazdas out of the fight, the battle evolved to Acura versus Cadillac, with the Wayne Taylor Racing and Action Express Racing bringing the fight to the Penske cars at the hands of Kamui Kobayashi, Renger van der Zande and Ricky Taylor. Simon Pagenaud had to pit the #6 for a new nose after a close call with the #19 Audi of Alex Riberas.
The night also brought further issues for CORE Autosport and Juncos Racing. Romain Dumas brought the Nissan in with an electrical issues, while the #50 Cadillac was forced to a halt at the exit of the bus stop chicane after losing the right rear wheel. JDC-Miller Motorsports have had a run of bad luck in the night, with mechanical issues and multiple penalties rendering the two Cadillacs pretty much out of contention for the race win.
Dragonspeed's Sebastian Saavedra leads from his Dragonspeed team-mate Nicolas Lapierre, with both the PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports entries several laps behind from earlier issues.
The battle for the GTLM lead is a close run affair under the Daytona lights, with Ferrari, Porsche and Corvette fighting for the lead. Antonio Garcia in the #3 Corvette took the lead from the #911 Porsche of Fred Macowiecki, with the sister car at the hands of Mathieu Jaminet following closely behind. The Corvette making an impressive comeback after encountering significant delays at the hands of a steering issue. The Risi Competizione Ferrari is still very much in the fight, with both Alessandro Pier Guidi and Miguel Molina leading in class on several occasions.
The Paul Miller Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 leads at the hands of Bryan Sellers. Sellers had a close encounter with a fellow Lamborghini driver, as reigning race winner Rolf Ineichen spun in the infield section after nearly coming into contact with Sellers.
Don Yount brought out one of the full course caution in his #47 PPM Lamborghini Huracan and has since been retired from the race.