During the sixth caution for Timothe Buret’s huge shunt, the DPis all pitted, and the restart saw the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 of Filipe Albuquerque ahead of the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R driven by Scott Dixon, Olivier Pla in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura ahead of the erstwhile leading Mazda, now driven by Oliver Jarvis.
At the drop of the green, Dixon immediately surged past Albuquerque to grab the lead, and soon Pla had also demoted the WTR Caddy. Dixon stretched away from the turbo cars, by almost 1sec per lap, while Pla pulled a six second lead over Albuquerque who had Jarvis in his mirrors. But the Mazda also had company behind – the #48 AXR Cadillac now driven by Simon Pagenaud. That car was already destined to be classified last in class, however, as Pagenaud had exceeded maximum drive time.
When Mike Conway driving the #31 AXR Caddy ground to a halt on track with 1hr55m to go, it triggered all the Prototypes to pit in anticipation of a full course yellow, that duly arrived – the seventh caution of the race. Dixon – who had been holding a 14sec lead – rejoined the track with ease ahead of Pla, but Albuquerque had already stopped to hand off to Alexander Rossi, and so the WTR Acura fell to fourth, behind the Mazda of Jarvis.
At the restart, Rossi fell further back to sixth, muscled aside by Kamui Kobayashi – now at the wheel of the #48 Cadillac – and Sebastien Bourdais, whose JDC-Miller Caddy was now back on the lead lap. IMSA Radio reported that the WTR car had lost power due to intercooler damage caused by Albuquerque’s earlier impact with the GTD Lexus.
Jarvis pitted to hand over the Mazda to Harry Tincknell with 72mins to go, and that triggered other teams to respond. One of those was Ganassi, who reportedly made a late call to Dixon to bring him in, just after he lapped a GTLM BMW. As Dixon tried to swerve the #01 Cadillac onto pitlane, he was struck hard in the right front corner by the BMW, necessitating steering repairs and a new nose, costing the car three laps.
Thus Bourdais, driving the JDC-Miller Cadillac that had run at least one lap down for the majority of the race zoomed into the lead with little more than hour to go. He held a 7sec lead over Tincknell’s Mazda, with Rossi third, Dane Cameron fourth in the Meyer Shank Racing but applying pressure to his fellow Acura driver, and Kobayashi fifth.
Bourdais had an eight second lead over Tincknell when he made his final stop, Rossi and Cameron emulating him and staying onboard. Kobayashi pulled in a lap later, Tincknell a lap after that, with 32mins to go. Then the eighth caution period of the race occurred due to a heavy shunt for a GTD car, and the top five were bunched again – Bourdais, Tincknell, Rossi, Cameron and Kobayashi.
At the restart, Bourdais escaped initially from Tincknell, while Cameron drove around the outside of Rossi at Turn 1 to grab third. Then Bourdais had a couple of slow laps that left him within striking distance of the Mazda before edging away again. But Kobayashi had deposed both the Acuras and had moved onto Tincknell’s tail – and occasionally alongside him.
Smoking his tires under braking for the tighter turns, Tincknell held off Kobayashi by 0.2sec to claim second, 1.4sec behind the winning JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac of Bourdais, Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval. The MSR and WTR Acuras came home fourth and fifth respectively, with Ganassi’s Cadillac two laps down in sixth.
In LMP2, Mikkel Jensen brought the PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca home first ahead of Ryan Dalziel in the Rolex 24-winning Era Motorsport entry.
LMP3 developed into a feisty four-way battle in the dying hours, until the Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine of Oliver Askew suddenly died temporarily, consigning it to fourth. Remarkably, CORE autosport, with Colin Braun, George Kurtz and Jon Bennett at the wheel of the team’s Ligier, defeated the two Riley Motorsports Ligiers.
GT Le Mans
Following the restart with around 2hrs to go, Philipp Eng retained his lead and John Edwards moved past Matt Campbell’s Porsche 911 RSR to make it a BMW 1-2, but Edwards saw Eng disappearing from him at the same rate that he was dropping the Porsche. Antonio Garcia in the longtime leading #3 Corvette C8.R found he could keep pace with none of the cars ahead with two hours still to go.
When Edwards came into the pits with less than two hours to go to hand over to Jesse Krohn, the #24 BMW caught fire due to spilt fuel, which the Rahal Letterman Lanigan crew extinguished with impressive accuracy and speed. Krohn rejoined the track in a lapped fourth, but now Garcia was out front because his Corvette had needed less fuel and stopped for less time. De Phillippi took over from Eng, and was Garcia’s closest pursuer ahead of Jaminet and the lapped Krohn.
However, Jaminet got ahead after the final stops, then lost out to De Phillippi after the final restart, as the BMW started trying to close down Garcia. He did too, but nudged into the Corvette at Turn 7, and pushed it wide, damaging the Corvette. He then recovered with his damaged car, but ran wide at Turn 15 and then had to serve a drive-through penalty.
Thus Jaminet’s Porsche grabbed the lead, the limping Corvette was so slow that De Phillippi reemerged from his penalty still in second and the one-lap down #24 BMW moved up into third.
The Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Zacharie Robichon led with two hours still to go, but had lost its ‘shadow’, the Wright Motorsports Porsche which had to serve a drive-through penalty with Trent Hindman at the wheel for having one too many pitcrew members over the wall.
That dropped the sky blue car to sixth, leaving Frankie Montecalvo’s #12 Vasser Sullivan Racing Lexus RC F in second, ahead of Spencer Pumpelly’s Magnus Archangel Acura NSX, Ross Gunn’s Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, and Katherine Legge in the Team Hardpoint EBM Porsche. However, Hindman was able to demote Legge to gain fifth.
Then the seventh caution saw the GTD cars hit pitlane, the Pfaff Porsche emerging still in front – now driven by Laurens Vanthoor – ahead of Gunn, Pumpelly, Hindman and Legge. Veach had lost out because he had pitted under green, just before the yellows, but he then sprinted away before the drop of the green flag – and then had his rear bumper knocked onto the tire by an impact from Vanthoor. So he had to pit for repairs and then serve a drive-through penalty.
Vanthoor wasn’t penalized and rocketed away from his opposition, Gunn ahead of the Wright Motorsport Porsche now driven by Pat Long, the Magnus Archangel Acura now in the hands of Andy Lally, and Legge.
For the final restart with 20mins to go, Vanthoor was leading Long, Gunn, Legge and Lally. Sadly for the Sun Energy 1 team which had battled back onto the lead lap, the caution was called when the #75 Mercedes-Benz AMG GT3 shed a wheel coming onto the pit straight, driver Maro Engel spinning and striking the wall.
Vanthoor pulled away from Long at the restart, leaving Gunn in third, but Legge and Lally clashed while fighting over fourth place. Legge was perceived to be at fault and was penalized, dropping to fifth behind the Magnus Archangel car.