Mazda Moves To The Front In Rolex 24

Mazda Team Joest's No. 77 entry was at the front of the Rolex 24 field after eight hours. (Dallas Breeze Photo)
Mazda Team Joest's No. 77 entry was at the front of the Rolex 24 field after eight hours. (Dallas Breeze Photo)

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Mazda Team Joest was at the front of the field with eight hours complete in the Rolex 24 Saturday night at Daytona Int’l Speedway.

The No. 77 Mazda RT24-P shared by Oliver Jarvis, Olivier Pla and Tristian Nunez cycled to the front of the field under a caution period late in the eighth hour caused by the No. 38 Performance Tech LMP2 entry, which found itself stuck in a tire barrier in the infield portion of the course.

For much of the race it’s been a war between the No. 77 entry, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi and the No. 6 Acura Team Penske entry for the race lead. Each have taken turns at the front of the field and the trio appear to have the fastest cars in the top DPi class.

The Wayne Taylor Racing entry, shared by Kamui Kobayashi, Renger van der Zande, Scott Dixon and Ryan Briscoe, was leading the race at the completion of the sixth hour, which gave them the maximum five points toward the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.

In GT Le Mans, the No. 24 BMW Team RLL M8 GTE was setting the pace with Augusto Farfus at the wheel. He’s sharing the car with John Edwards and Chaz Mostert. The No. 24 entry moved to the front of the field in the fifth hour ahead of the factory Porsche entries, which also allowed the No. 24 entry to top the Michelin Endurance Cup standings.

The No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 shared by Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers, Cory Lewis and Andrea Caldarelli was in charge of the GT Daytona class after eight hours, but the battle for the victory in that class remained wide open.

The No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R dominated the early portion of the race in GT Daytona, but fell off the pace in the fifth hour and was the last car on the lead lap in that class. The team, with drivers Zacharie Robichon, Dennis Olsen, Lars Kern and Patrick Pilet, have since fought back and moved back into second at the start of the ninth hour.

In the Michelin Endurance Cup standings, Marco Mapelli topped the class in the No. 44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracán GT3 at the six hour mark.

Finally, in LMP2, the No. 52 PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA co-driven by Gabriel Aubry, Ben Keating, Simon Trummer and Nick Boulle remained in control. The PR1-Mathiasen squad has led nearly every lap in the class through eight hours. They also topped the Michelin Endurance Cup standings at the six-hour mark.

The race’s first full course caution came out in the fifth hour of the race for an incident involving the GT Daytona cars of Eric Lux in the No. 47 Precision Performance Motorsports Lamborghini and Alex Riberas in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Aston Martin. The cars made contact near the pit entry and both slid through the infield grass.

Lux got the No. 47 running and made his way into the pits, but the No. 23 suffered substantial front-end damage and could not be driven back and later retired from the race.