The Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP led at quarter distance - Anne Proffit photoEnlarge Photo
Six hours are complete in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and the stress of this race is taking its toll.
One of the favorites to win, the SunTrust Corvette Daytona Prototype has already been parked and withdrawn from the race.
Driver Max Angelelli reported strange sounds in the engine after only six laps; the problem turned out to be a valvetrain issue and, rather than electing to repair and soldier on, the Wayne Taylor-led team elected to stop and not risk any further damage to the engine or any competition issues.
"We've never had an engine problem in all the time we've run the Chevrolet engine program," Taylor said, "so this is the first time. There was truly nothing we were worried about. It caught us by surprise."
The No. 5 Action Express Corvette DP had a misfire early in the contest and kept chasing it throughout the night.
At the end of the first hour Alex Gurney had the lead in the No. 99 GAINSCO Corvette DP, followed by Oswaldo Negri's No. 60 LiveOn.com Ford/Riley and Scott Dixon in the No. 02 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley. In GT Marco Holzer took the lead in the No. 23 Weather Tech Porsche GT3 after hounding pole man Andrew Davis in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche GT3. Patrick Long lay third in the Flying Lizard No. 45 Porsche GT3.
The first caution came shortly after the second hour began when the No. 12 Porsche GT3 stopped outside the chicane and was unable to refire. After 14 minutes the green flew again.
Scott Pruett, who started last amongst the 14 Daytona Prototypes in the No. 01 Target/Telmex BMW/Riley was leading at the end of the second hour, followed by the No. 2 Starworks Motorsport Ford/Riley and the No. 60 Ford/Riley. In GT, Emmanuel Collard had the Alex Job No. 23 Porsche GT3 on top, with Leh Keen second in the No. 59 Brumos Porsche and Mike Rockenfeller third in the No. 45 Flying Lizard Porsche.
The second full-course caution came at 5:32PM when Steven Kane in the No. 74 Audi R8 came to a stop on the apron of NASCAR Turn 4, with a clutch problem. Six minutes later the field saw green again and Michael Valiante in the No. 2 Ford/Riley passed Pruett to take the lead. At 5:50 and into darkness, another full-course caution flew to retrieve Justin Bell in the No. 4 eBay Motors Porsche GT3.
Grand-Am introduced a "free pass" similar to NASCAR's Lucky Dog at this race; Darren Law got the free pass to get back on the lead lap after being a lap down in the No. 5 Action Express Corvette after its early pit stop.
Green flew again at 6:04PM and by the end of the third hour IndyCar star Justin Wilson held the lead in the No. 60 Ford/Riley, followed by the No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP with Joao Barbosa driving. Lucas Luhr was third in the polesitting No. 8 Ford/Riley. The No. 88 Autohaus Motorsports Chevrolet Camaro held the lead in GT followed by Patrick Pilet in the No. 66 TRG Porsche GT3 and Rockenfeller, completing another stint in third place.
Into the fourth hour, teammates Jamie McMurray and Memo Rojas had a coming together in the infield; McMurray thought the Mexican would give him room but apparently, he didn't. They both soldiered on.
The No. 8 Ford/Riley led at the close of four hours with the No. 60 Ford/Riley less than four seconds in areas and the No. 2 Ford/Riley less than 10 seconds back in third. After four hours there were nine cars on the lead, 125th lap - all Daytona Prototypes - with the No. 9 Action Express Corvette DP one lap down. Porsche GT3 Cup cars led the standings in GT with the o. 44 of Maagnus Racing leading the class and the No. 66 TRG Porsche and No. 59 Porsche all on the same, 120th lap.
In the fifth hour, the top three in Daytona Prototypes all drove Ford/Riley racers: Allan McNish was in first place in the No. 8 as Ryan Hunter-Reay stood second in the No. 2 and AJ Allmendinger had the No. 60 in third. GT was a Porsche GT3 party with Marc Lieb first in the No. 59, Andy Lally second in the No. 44 and Dominik Farnbacher third in the No. 66 Porsche.
There was a full-course caution at 7:38PM to clean up an incident between the No. 41 Mazda and the No. 50 BMW/Riley; this lasted until 8:05PM. The next full-course caution came at 9:06PM to retrieve the No. 15 Ford, stopped outside the first turn with a bent left front wheel. During this caution the No. 5 Corvette DP and the the No. 67 Porsche GT3 Cup both received free passes to move up a lap.