Rolex 24 Hour 12: Wayne Taylor Racing Acura Leads at Halfway Point

As expected, the tight contest for the overall lead of the Rolex 24 At Daytona was as spirited 12 hours into the famed IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season opener as it was at the drop of the green flag. And at the midpoint of the race, a familiar name was showing the way.

Filipe Albuquerque had the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing/Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 DPi out front, holding the No. 48 Action Express/Ally Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R and Mike Rockenfeller off by less than a second with Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kevin Magnussen and reigning NASCAR Cup Series champion Chase Elliott, in the pole-winning No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, giving chase. The top five Daytona Prototype international (DPi) were still on the lead lap – within 40 seconds of the lead in one of the most competitive runs in Rolex 24 history.

The midpoint of the Rolex 24 also served as the second juncture for points to be awarded for the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup that rewards top performers at designated stages of the four endurance races on the WeatherTech Championship schedule. The leaders after 12 hours were: the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura in the DPi class; the No. 47 Cetilar Racing Dallara in Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2); the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 in the new Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class; the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in GT Le Mans (GTLM); and the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 in GT Daytona (GTD).

Flag-to-flag coverage of the iconic Rolex 24 continues throughout the night on the NBC Sports platforms. Tune in to the NBC Sports App until 6 a.m. ET. As daylight breaks in Daytona Beach, live coverage shifts to NBCSN from 6 a.m.-2 p.m. before the dramatic concluding hours are broadcast from 2-4 p.m. on NBC. The checkered flag will wave at about 3:40 p.m. The entire race streams on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.

After a spate of early full-course cautions – four in the race’s opening three hours – the drivers settled in and there were but two yellow flags over the next nine hours. Only three of the 49 entries – all in LMP2 – had retired from the race.

The following are other highlight notes from Hours 6-12, by class:

Daytona Prototype international: Johnson’s Midnight Special

Jimmie Johnson pulled a double stint in the No. 48 Ally Racing Cadillac just after midnight. Taking over the car after co-driver Kamui Kobayashi pushed it into the overall lead, the seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion held the point over his first fuel run but fell behind Renger van der Zande in the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac on his second stint.

No. 5 Cadillac’s Night Turns Dark

The No. 5 Mustang Sampling/JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac, with Tristan Vautier aboard, fell from contention after tangling with Patrick Long in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R GTD entry shortly before 1 a.m. The collision happened as the cars were about to head into the infield section of the road course.

#5 JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi, DPi: Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval, Sebastien Bourdais- LAT Photo for IMSA

The No. 5 had been on the lead lap all race long. Vautier immediately pulled the car behind the wall and into the garage, where it remained for nearly 90 minutes as the crew effected repairs. By then it was 47 laps off the pace.

Castroneves Savoring Short Championship Moment

It took Helio Castroneves more than two decades of professional racing to earn his first season title, coming in the 2020 WeatherTech Championship with Ricky Taylor. But now that he’s only slated to drive in one series race this year, the Rolex 24, the Brazilian is intent on enjoying the moment – no matter how short the duration.

“This is the first time that I come back as defending champ,” Castroneves said after his first race stint in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura he’s sharing with Taylor, Albuquerque and Alexander Rossi. “It was really cool. I was talking with Ricky about that. It’s a pretty good feeling.”

Taylor will carry that honor all year since he is a full-season driver in the No. 10. For Castroneves, this was his only opportunity since he returns to the IndyCar Series in April.

Le Mans Prototype 2: Cetilar Racing Sneaks into Class Lead

Cetilar Racing, fielding the only Dallara chassis in the LMP2 field, charged into the class lead following a restart from a full-course caution with 13.5 hours remaining. The No. 47 Cetilar entry, featuring four Italian drivers, lurked in the shadows in the earlier hours until shooting past the front-running No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07 and No. 11 WIN Autosport ORECA that had dominated to that point.

Le Mans Prototype 3: No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports America Charges Back to Lead

The comeback story of the first half of the race was the No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports America Duqueine M30-D08. After pitting with apparent suspension damage less than 20 minutes into the race, the No. 6 that started first in LMP3 dropped as many as four laps off the pace in class.

Co-drivers Moritz Kranz, Laurents Hoerr, Kenton Koch and Stevan McAleer methodically moved the No. 6 back into contention, taking the LMP3 lead by the seventh hour and contending with the No. 74 Ligier JS P320 for the class lead. After 12 hours, the No. 74 Ligier held the point over the No. 6 Muehlner Motorsports America entry.

GT Le Mans: Corvettes Continue Setting the Pace

Five GTLM cars remained on the lead lap after 12 hours, but it was the Corvette Racing duo doing the leading. The team is trying to get back to Victory Lane at the Rolex 24 for the first time since 2016 and give the Corvette C8.R its first endurance race win.

At the race’s midpoint, the No. 4 Corvette driven by Nick Tandy held 5.894-second lead over the No. 3 Corvette being driven by Jordan Taylor.

“It’s going fairly well so far, I would say,” said Alexander Sims, co-driver of the No. 4 Corvette that’s led most of the laps. “I had my first two stints in the Corvette at Daytona, and I feel like I’m learning a lot still. Those were the first two full stints I’ve done, and I learned a lot about the evolution of the car over that stint.

“So we’re at the front of the field. It may look like it’s all under control, but we’re pushing hard and not leaving much on the table. We’re in the right position at the moment.”

#4: Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R, GTLM: Tommy Milner, Nick Tandy, Alexander Sims – LAT Images for IMSA

GT Daytona: Night Time Is Right Time for Mercedes-AMG

The long periods of green-flag running proved most beneficial for the Mercedes-AMG and Ferrari runners in GTD. The No. 21 AF Corse Ferrari 488 GT3 held strong to the class lead for a lengthy stretch, until the full-course caution with 13.5 hours to go.

#21: Af Corse Ferrari 488 GT3, GTD: Nicklas Nielsen, Daniel Serra, Matteo Cressoni, Simon Mann – LAT Images for IMSA

On the restart, however, Maro Engel in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 and Mikael Grenier in the No. 75 Sun Energy 1 Mercedes quickly pulled ahead of the Ferrari and into the top two GTD spots. The battle for position remained tight between the two makes and Ferrari driver Daniel Serra was able to split the two Mercedes and move into second place just before the race’s midpoint

Hour 12 (Halfway) Standings

Pos No. Class Team Driver_1 Driver_2 Driver_3 Driver_4 Vehicle Laps Behind
1 10 DPi Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 Ricky Taylor Filipe Albuquerque Alexander Rossi Helio Castroneves Acura DPi 402 0.000s
2 48 DPi Ally Cadillac Racing Jimmie Johnson Kamui Kobayashi Simon Pagenaud Mike Rockenfeller Cadillac DPi 402 0.575s
3 01 DPi Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Renger van der Zande Kevin Magnussen Scott Dixon Cadillac DPi 402 12.720s
4 31 DPi Whelen Engineering Racing Felipe Nasr Mike Conway Pipo Derani Chase Elliott Cadillac DPi 402 35.794s
5 60 DPi Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian Dane Cameron Olivier Pla Juan Pablo Montoya AJ Allmendinger Acura DPi 402 38.142s
6 55 DPi Mazda Motorsports Oliver Jarvis Harry Tincknell Jonathan Bomarito Mazda DPi 399 3 Laps
7 47 LMP2 Cetilar Racing Roberto Lacorte Antonio Fuoco Andrea Belicchi Giorgio Sernagiotto Dallara LMP2 391 11 Laps
8 8 LMP2 Tower Motorsport John Farano Gabriel Aubry Tim Buret Matthieu Vaxiviere ORECA LMP2 07 391 11 Laps
9 82 LMP2 DragonSpeed USA LLC Christopher Mies Eric Lux Devlin DeFrancesco Fabian Schiller ORECA LMP2 07 390 12 Laps
10 18 LMP2 Era Motorsport Dwight Merriman Kyle Tilley Ryan Dalziel Paul-Loup Chatin ORECA LMP2 07 389 13 Laps
11 51 LMP2 RWR-Eurasia Cody Ware Salih Yoluc Austin Dillon Sven Muller Ligier LMP2 387 15 Laps
12 11 LMP2 WIN Autosport Steven Thomas Tristan Nunez Thomas Merrill Matthew Bell ORECA LMP2 07 387 15 Laps
13 4 GTLM Corvette Racing Tommy Milner Nick Tandy Alexander Sims Corvette C8.R 383 19 Laps
14 3 GTLM Corvette Racing Antonio Garcia Jordan Taylor Nicky Catsburg Corvette C8.R 383 19 Laps
15 24 GTLM BMW Team RLL John Edwards Jesse Krohn Augusto Farfus Marco Wittmann BMW M8 GTE 382 20 Laps
16 62 GTLM Risi Competizione James Calado Alessandro Pier Guidi Jules Gounon Davide Rigon Ferrari 488 GTE 382 20 Laps
17 25 GTLM BMW Team RLL Connor De Phillippi Philipp Eng Timo Glock Bruno Spengler BMW M8 GTE 382 20 Laps
18 74 LMP3 Riley Motorsports Gar Robinson Scott Andrews Oliver Askew Spencer Pigot Ligier JS P320 376 26 Laps
19 6 LMP3 Muehlner Motorsports America Moritz Kranz Laurents Hoerr Kenton Koch Stevan McAleer Duqueine D08 373 29 Laps
20 33 LMP3 Sean Creech Motorsport Lance Willsey Joao Barbosa Wayne Boyd Yann Clairay Ligier JS P320 372 30 Laps
21 57 GTD Winward Racing Russell Ward Philip Ellis Indy Dontje Maro Engel Mercedes-AMG GT3 372 30 Laps
22 21 GTD Af Corse Simon Mann Nicklas Nielsen Daniel Serra Matteo Cressoni Ferrari 488 GT3 372 30 Laps
23 75 GTD Sun Energy 1 Kenny Habul Raffaele Marciello Mikael Grenier Luca Stolz Mercedes-AMG GT3 372 30 Laps
24 23 GTD Heart Of Racing Team Ian James Roman De Angelis Darren Turner Ross Gunn Aston Martin Vantage GT3 371 31 Laps
25 9 GTD Pfaff Motorsports Zacharie Robichon Laurens Vanthoor Lars Kern Matt Campbell Porsche 911 GT3R 371 31 Laps
26 1 GTD Paul Miller Racing Bryan Sellers Madison Snow Corey Lewis Andrea Caldarelli Lamborghini Huracan GT3 371 31 Laps
27 16 GTD Wright Motorsports Trent Hindman Patrick Long Jan Heylen Klaus Bachler Porsche 911 GT3R 371 31 Laps
28 79 GTLM WeatherTech Racing Cooper MacNeil Kevin Estre Richard Lietz Gianmaria Bruni Porsche 911 RSR – 19 371 31 Laps
29 97 GTD TF Sport Maxwell Root Charlie Eastwood Ben Keating Richard Westbrook Aston Martin Vantage GT3 371 31 Laps
30 96 GTD Turner Motorsport Bill Auberlen Robby Foley Aidan Read Colton Herta BMW M6 GT3 370 32 Laps
31 88 GTD Team Hardpoint EBM Rob Ferriol Earl Bamber Katherine Legge Christina Nielsen Porsche 911 GT3R 370 32 Laps
32 63 GTD Scuderia Corsa Ed Jones Bret Curtis Ryan Briscoe Marcos Gomes Ferrari 488 GT3 370 32 Laps
33 28 GTD Alegra Motorsports Daniel Morad Mike Skeen Billy Johnson Maxi Buhk Mercedes-AMG GT3 367 35 Laps
34 44 GTD Magnus with Archangel John Potter Andy Lally Spencer Pumpelly Mario Farnbacher Acura NSX GT3 367 35 Laps
35 14 GTD Vasser Sullivan Aaron Telitz Oliver Gavin Kyle Kirkwood Jack Hawksworth Lexus RC F GT3 367 35 Laps
36 52 LMP2 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ben Keating Mikkel Jensen Scott Huffaker Nicolas Lapierre ORECA LMP2 07 367 35 Laps
37 91 LMP3 Riley Motorsports Jim Cox Dylan Murry Austin McCusker Jeroen Bleekemolen Ligier JS P320 365 37 Laps
38 64 GTD TeamTGM Ted Giovanis Owen Trinkler Hugh Plumb Matt Plumb Porsche 911 GT3R 365 37 Laps
39 42 GTD NTE Sport Alan Metni Andrew Davis JR Hildebrand Don Yount Audi R8 LMS GT3 363 39 Laps
40 54 LMP3 Core Autosport Jonathan Bennett George Kurtz Colin Braun Matt McMurry Ligier JS P320 358 44 Laps
41 5 DPi Mustang Sampling / JDC-Miller MotorSports Tristan Vautier Loic Duval Sebastien Bourdais Cadillac DPi 354 48 Laps
42 111 GTD GRT Grasser Racing Team Steijn Schothorst Marco Mapelli Rolf Ineichen Mirko Bortolotti Lamborghini Huracan GT3 340 62 Laps
43 7 LMP3 Forty7 Motorsports Mark Kvamme Ryan Norman Gabby Chaves Trenton Estep Duqueine D08 325 77 Laps
44 38 LMP3 Performance Tech Motorsports Rasmus Lindh Cameron Cassels Mateo LLarena Ayrton Ori Ligier JS P320 315 87 Laps
45 12 GTD Vasser Sullivan Robert Megennis Zach Veach Townsend Bell Frankie Montecalvo Lexus RC F GT3 308 94 Laps
46 19 GTD GRT Grasser Racing Team Misha Goikhberg Franck Perera Albert Costa Tim Zimmermann Lamborghini Huracan GT3 195 207 Laps
47 29 LMP2 Racing Team Nederland Frits Van Eerd Giedo van der Garde Job van Uitert Charles Milesi ORECA LMP2 07 64 338 Laps
48 20 LMP2 High Class Racing Dennis Andersen Ferdinand Habsburg-Lothringen Anders Fjordbach Robert Kubica ORECA LMP2 07 56 346 Laps
49 81 LMP2 DragonSpeed USA LLC Ben Hanley Rob Hodes Garett Grist Rinus Veekay ORECA LMP2 07 53 349 Laps