At the drop of the green the two Porsche Penske Motorsports 963 by Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet loused up the heavy braking for Turn 2. Jaminet on the outside locked up horribly, while Campbell also outbraked himself and ran wide, allowing the closely following Colin Braun in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura to get into the lead followed by Pipo Derani in the Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R. Jaminet recovered swiftly enough to claim third ahead of the two BMW M Hybrid V8s of Connor De Phillippi and Philipp Eng, Ricky Taylor in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura. Campbell was now seventh ahead of Sebastien Bourdais’s Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac and Tijmen van der Helm in the new JDC Miller Motorsport Porsche. Then out came the first caution for a GT clash. Twenty minutes later came the second yellow, after Campbell nudged Jarett Andretti’s Aston Martin into an accident at pitlane entry.
Once it was cleared, all nine GTP cars pitted, and Braun dropped to seventh having taken both fuel and tires. So they exited with Derani now in front of De Phillippi’s BMW, Bourdais’ Cadillac, Eng’s BMW, van der Helm’s JDCM Porsche.
Following the restart, Albuquerque who had taken over the WTR Acura drove around the outside of Jaminet at Turn 5, and then he was gifted sixth place when van der Helm ran wide at the final corner. Meanwhile, Porsche’s day got worse as Campbell was given a drive-through penalty for the incident with Andretti.
Braun elbowed his way past Eng’s BMW on Lap 33 on the climb from Turn 5 to Turn 6, and the BMW’s loss of momentum allowed Albuquerque and Jaminet to also lever their way through to demote the #24 BMW to seventh.
Moments later, with 1h42m to go, John Farano crashed the Tower Motorsports LMP2 car at Turn 5, packing the field back up.
All GTP cars hit pitlane, and MSR gave Braun fuel only, and therefore the Acura ARX-06 took the lead ahead of Derani and Albuquerque. Nick Tandy took over the #6 Porsche to come out in fourth, ahead of the #25 BMW now steered by Nick Yelloly, and the #7 Porsche now driven by Felipe Nasr. Renger Van der Zande replaced Bourdais in the Ganassi Cadillac, ahead of Augusto Farfus’ #24 BMW and Mike Rockenfeller’s JDC Miller Motorsports Porsche.
At the restart, Derani kept the pressure on Braun and on the second lap after the restart, at Turn 3 he passed the MSR Acura to hit the front. Further back, the #7 Porsche of Nasr fell off exiting the Corkscrew soon after passing Tandy, and the impact was hard enough to send him into the pits.
Tandy did then drop to fifth behind van der Zande who soon found himself stacked behind the two Acuras, nine seconds behind Derani as Braun struggled to keep his worn tires under him. In fact it was van der Zande who slotted past Albuquerque to claim third and close on Braun, and once he inevitably demoted Braun, Albuquerque followed him through.
So with 70m left it was a Cadillac 1-2, Derani and van der Zande 14s apart. Tandy grabbed fourth from Braun into Turn 2 on Lap 55, with the BMWs also demoting the MSR machine. In fact, Yelloly was on a roll and demoted Tandy for fourth with just over an hour remaining.
That triggered Tandy to pit, and then Derani stopped as well, giving the car to Alexander Sims with a 20s lead. The rest followed shortly after, with Tom Blomqvist replacing Braun in the MSR Acura. The last of them – CGR Caddy and the BMWs – got in just in time before IMSA threw the fourth full course caution for Aaron Telitz parking the Lexus RC F in the wall on the outside of the final corner.
For the restart with 41m to go, Sims led van der Zande, with Yelloly, Tandy, Albuquerque, and Farfus completing the top six. Van der Zande went around the outside of Sims at Turn 3 to grab the lead.
But with just under 30m to go, Sims was pressing van der Zande for the lead, while three seconds back Tandy had prised third place from Yelloly. Ten minutes later, Albuquerque also got around the #25 BMW and less than five minutes after that Yelloly also ceded fifth to teammate Farfus and eventually dropped to eighth.
Tandy passed Sims for second with a quarter-hour to go, and now had 4.4s to close on van der Zande. However, the leader actually edged away until van der Zande hit a knot of traffic, when the margin shrank to 2.5s. Of course, then it was Tandy’s turn to hit traffic, and his deficit went out to 3.8s at the checkered flag.
Sims was a further seven seconds adrift but over 10s clear of the WTR Acura.
Ben Keating of PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports took the lead at the start of the race from Georg Kurtz’s Crowdstrike Racing by APR entry ahead of Steven Thomas of TDS Racing.
However, with 25m to go, Kurtz’s co-driver Ben Hanley tipped Ryan Dalziel’s Era car into a half-spin on the front straight, allowing Mikkel Jensen to take the lead for TDS Racing ahead of Hanley, who had to work hard to keep Paul-Loup Chatin in the PR1 car in third. He lost that second place with under 10m to go.
GTD Pro and GTD
Klaus Bachler’s GTD Pro Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R all the GT cars, with Roman de Angelis in close pursuit in the lead GTD car, the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage. That was chased by two more GTD Pro cars, the WeatherTech Racing Mercedes of Daniel Juncadella and Alex Riberas in the second HoR Aston. Alec Udell’s Kellymoss with Riley Prosche was next up, with Jordan Taylor’s Corvette, Madison Snow’s Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 and the two Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC Fs next up.
Brendan Iribe’s McLaren of Inception Racing and the Acura NSX of Sheena Monk came together hard, leaving major debris on the course that caused the first yellow. The second yellow came just 20m into the race, when Jarett Andretti in the new Andretti Autosport Aston Martin crashed into the pitlane entrance. He had been ushered there by Campbell’s #6 Porsche GTP car.
During the yellow-flag stops that followed, Turner Motorsport kept Patrick Gallagher, out on track to take the class lead, ahead of Metni’s Kellymoss Porsche and Anders Brynjolfsson.
Bachler jumped the red light at pit exit – for which he would receive a stop and 60sec hold penalty – so it was Taylor’s Corvette that took the lead in GTD Pro class ahead of Jules Gounon and Jack Hawksworth’s Lexus. However, Hawksworth would make a strong restart to jump to second in GTD Pro ahead of Gounon and Riberas.
Following the third yellow, Kellymoss with Riley ran 1-2, Alec Udell ahead of Kay van Berlo having just pitted before the yellow, and they were chased by the Turner M4s of Bill Auberlen and Robbie Foley. In GTD Pro, Alex Riberas’ HoR Aston led ahead of Antonio Garcia who was now in the Corvette.
Udell had to pit with 63m to go, van Berlo stopping next time by, leaving Turner and Paul Miller to run 1-2-3 for BMW just briefly until they pitted too.
Thus Andy Lally led GTD for Magnus Racing (Aston), ahead of van Berlo, and Auberlen, while Ross Gunn led GTD Pro ahead of Garcia. However, the latter pair had blown the wave-by rules under yellow and had to pit for stop-n-hold penalties.
That left Gounon’s WeatherTech Mercedes, the earlier penalized Pfaff Porsche and the #14 Lexus leading GTD Pro, albeit in 12th through 14th overall in GT.
Van Berlo passed Lally after a slightly physical confrontation with 20m to go, and soon Lally also had to give up second to Auberlen. With under 10m to go, Lally also lost third to Andlauer.
Van Berlo won GTD by 10s ahead of Auberlen who had two seconds in hand over Andlauer.
Gounon took GTD Pro victory by eight seconds from the #14 Lexus, as Ben Barnicoat nipped Patrick Pilet for second by a mere 0.2s.
Results to follow