After heading an all-Cadillac front row in qualifying, Derani (Action Express Racing) led Taylor – who outdragged Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sebastien Bourdais away from the rolling start – and almost grabbed the lead around the outside at Turn 1. But Derani stood firm to hold the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura at bay at Turn 3.
The race went yellow on Lap 1 for debris at Turn 1, where an LMP3 car had spun, and scattered parts across Gurney Bend on the run to Turn 7.
Although the Caddy drivers have been complaining they’re too slow on straights, Derani pulled out a 2s lead on fresh tires by Lap 8 before they hit the first traffic of the race. Bourdais almost re-passed Taylor as they lapped tail-enders, then Taylor almost got Derani at Turn 1 a lap later amid the GTD midfielders –but Derani was able to pull away as he cleared the knot of lappers.
Their fight went on throughout the opening hour, but Bourdais was never far from the leaders and he pounced past Taylor, whose pace faded towards the end of the stint, at Turn 1 on Lap 23 to restore the Caddy 1-2.
Derani pitted from the lead at the end of Lap 27, for a fuel-only stop. Bourdais and Taylor ran a lap longer, with Bourdais rejoining ahead of Derani up front.
In LMP2, Ben Keating (PR1 Mathiasen ORECA) led the TDS car of Francois Heriau until Lap 24, when Heriau got the jump on him in traffic approaching the final corner.
Glenn van Berlo (#36 Andretti Autosport) led LMP3 initially, ahead of the #85 JDC Miller Motorsport car of Dan Goldburg, before Goldburg passed van Berlo after a handful of laps.
Lance Willsey spun his #33 LMP3 car at Turn 1 and had 28 GTD cars avoid him as he sat stranded in the middle of the track.
Antonio Garcia (Corvette) led the GTD pack through the Willsey-caused chaos at Turn 1. Klaus Bachler had the nearest miss, after starting from the rear in his Pfaff Porsche 911 following a big crash in qualifying.
Jack Hawksworth ran second in the #14 Lexus, ahead of non-Pro GTD leader Kyle Marcelli in the #93 Racers Edge Acura.