The traditional start to the American racing season has arrived with 54 cars across four classes set to battle for 24 hours to claim victory in one of the world’s great endurance races. Welcome to Rennsport’s live blog of the big event, covering every minute from start to finish.
Here are the TV times via IMSA’s Twitter account:
(The blog will be written in ascending order with time stamp in Eastern Standard Time.)
12:53 AM: Another P2 bites the dust with the Mazda Prototype pulling off where Shank did! He’s able to grab reverse however, so it appears they’re be able to continue.
12:50 AM: Standard stop for the PC leader. The Lambos are cutting down the gap to SVG. It’s down to two seconds.
HOUR 10 UPDATE: Shank’s Ligier gave up the ghost dramatically and ESM’s Scott Sharp copped a stop and hold penalty, giving the fight for the race lead to a host of Daytona Prototypes. It’s the Action Express cars in front, currently. John Edwards has taken the lead in GTLM over the #3 Corvette. SHANE VAN GISBERGEN leads in GTD! PC is PC and hasn’t changed.
12:35 AM: Stop and go for Sharp for not obeying the red light on pit lane! Pruett gets promoted to the race lead.
12:30 AM: Back to green and the #912 Porsche leads GTLM after more chaos. SPIRIT OF RACE leads GTD and Scott Sharp has the ESM Ligier still in the lead.
12:18 AM: The Shank Ligier’s engine blew and caused its stop. The ESM car now leads ahead of the #5 Action Express entry. The whole GTLM field and most the GTD cars are in for their stops.
12:12 AM: Massive dramas as Negri slows to a dramatic halt from the lead in the infield! Shank tells official the car is “dead.” Another full course yellow.
12:05 AM: The two Rahal BMWs are fighting for first in GTLM and the Porsche/Corvette battle continues. Edwards pits the #100.
11:57 PM: Another full course yellow for — you guessed it — a PC car. Ryan Eversley was piloting the #26 when it went off in the infield.
11:51 PM: Negri retakes the lead on the restart. Farfus has the #25 BMW in the GTLM lead.
HOUR 9 UPDATE: Taylor leads Negri and Curran in the overall battle. The Corvettes of Gavin and Magnussen are 1-2 in GTLM after the stops. Nothing major has changed in PC with PR1 leading. Lally has the #44 R8 in the GTD lead.
11:28 PM: Another full course yellow for a PC car. Shocker, there. It’s the former race leading car, the #85. The door fell of Vilander’s Ferrari during his stop.
11:21 PM: Prototype stops happening. Albuquerque hands the #5 over to Scott “hi to Craig Lowndes family at home” Pruett. Scott Sharp takes over the #2 ESM Ligier.
11:10 PM: The battle in GTLM for second continues. At the front, Negri has taken the overall lead back in the #60 Ligier.
11:03 PM: Fantastic battle between the #912 of Bamber and Magnussen in the #3! Bamber has traction out of the corners but Mags beats him out on the banking and straights. You can always count GTE to deliver the goods! Gavin brings the #4 into the battle and gets into second. Now the #02 peels into the garage after slowing! What a bad day for Ganassi.
10:59 PM: Pumpelly completes what he started before the safety car and gets the GT Daytona lead. The #912 Porsche has caught back up to the #3 and the pair are fighting it out for the GTLM lead.
10:54 PM: Negri is caught sleeping on the restart and Kanaan and Taylor soar pass to the lead. Bamber’s fallen to third in GTLM as Magnussen leads and Calado slots SMP in second.
10:46 PM: Pumpelly sets the fastest lap as he haunts the Konrad car in front of him. Before he can make a move, another full course yellow slows action. In fact, the cause is the other Konrad entry – car #21 – stopped on track!
HOUR 8 UPDATE: Shank leads, again, from the Wayne Taylor and Ganassi DPs. PR1 is untouchable in PC with a two lap lead for the moment. The Porsche/Corvette battle is swinging in #912’s favor with Bamber in front. Two Lambos continue the trend of leading in GTD with the #49 Konrad machine ahead of the Change Racing car being steered by Spencer Pumpelly.
10:30 PM: With GT stops completed, Magnussen leads the two 911’s. Konrad leads GTD ahead of Magnus and the #23 WeatherTech Porsche.
10:23 PM: A flurry of stops under yellow, as you might expect. Kanaan has moved to the front with his pit stop coming beforehand but we’ll have the two Honda powered Ligiers right on him when we go back racing.
10:17 PM: ESM goes to the lead as a full course yellow comes out. The #02 Ganassi pits for scheduled service. The #93 Viper was the cause of the latest safety car, slamming the wall at the western end of the horseshoe.
10:07 PM: Albuquerque goes off at the horseshoe but gets the Action Express entry rolling.
9:57 PM: Back to green with the Ganassi cars in front; Kanaan ahead of Priaulx. Fox’s TV coverage is about to draw to a close for the as fireworks pop off in the background. Tune into IMSA.tv to watch the race until the morning. Don’t worry, we’re not going anywhere!
9:45 PM: Full course yellow for the #88 Starworks PC parked at the bus stop. Kvamme whacked the wall before coming to a halt.
HOUR 7 UPDATE: The MSR Ligier leads with the Dinger piloting. In GTLM, the #912 Porsche leads the #911. PR1 still holds a handy lead in PC. SPIRIT OF RACE, the oddest team name in racing holds control in GT Daytona for the moment.
9:30 PM: Another penalty for spinning wheels in pit lane. This time, the VisitFlorida DP is the victim. Marc “please don’t call me goose” Goosens will have to tour the lane.
9:26 PM: Hartley pits the 01 from first for a driver change; Andy Priaulx gets in. Driver change for the #100 too as Rahal exits. Brunni also stops, relieving Fassler’s headache.
9:23 PM: Marcel Fassler in the #4 Corvette has chased down Beretta in the Risi car. The SMP Ferrari with Brunni has hooked onto the back of this fight as the C7 can’t find a way pass.
9:19 PM: The #31 completes its stop including a driver change as Eric Curran gets in.
9:15 PM: Balzan is tumbling down the order in the Scuderia Corsa entry. Not sure yet on the cause.
9:10 PM: Speaking of Magnus, their R8 is up to second in GTD with Rene Rast steering the wheel. Rast is one of a handful of drivers who will head from here straight to Australia for next weekend’s Bathurst 12 hour.
9:04 PM: The Risi Ferrari and Rahal BMW are battling for third. Graham looks for a way through on the outside into turn one but can’t complete the mission on Beretta just yet.
9:00 PM: According to multiple people on Twitter, Jordan Taylor said on the Magnus webcast that he is sick and will not get back in the car for the rest of the race. He’s completed the requirement for scoring points.
8:55 PM: Snow gets the Paul Miller Lamborghini in the lead. They’ve led most of the race and are showing great pace.
8:50 PM: As we go back to green, Allmendinger leads ahead of Jonny Adam and Brendon Hartley. The two factory Porsches have assumed control of the GT Le Mans category while Scuderia Corsa with Alessandro Balzan holding off the Paul Miller car of Madison SNow.
HOUR 6 UPDATE: The CORE boys suffered a drive line issue that’s ruled them out of the race and put PR1 in front. GT pit stops are happening under safety car, but it’s still a Porsche/Corvette affair in the Le Mans category. The #55 Mazda is having an extended stop and is losing heaps of time. In GT Daytona, it’s Pedro Lamy leading for Aston Martin ahead of the #23 WeatherTech Porsche and the #6 Stephenson R8 LMS.
8:27 PM: GT leaders now taking their stops. Another PC is parked in an awkward spot! The #21 is stuck dead in the middle of the line in the international horseshoe. IMSA throws the full course yellow. Upon replay, it looks like he made contact with the #911 GTLM Porsche.
8:18 PM: Scheduled stops occurring for the Prototype cars. Filipe Albuquerque, the ex-Audi driver is in the #5 Action Express car. The Dinger is in car #60 for his first run of the motor race. Barichello has a routine stop for just tires and fuel.
8:15 PM: With the two in-form PC competitors laps down or retired, the PR1/Mathiasen Oreca piloted by Jose Gutierrez leads the class ahead of the Performace Tech car that spun, earlier.
8:10 PM: Rocky is on the tail of the #100 Babe-MW runner and is harassing him for third. The M6 has just enough pace in a straight line to hold on.
8:06 PM: The fight for second in Protoype and overall has intensified. Christian Fittipaldi is holding off Brendon Hartley in the Ganassi Riley and Adam has caught the pair, turning it into a Corvette DP sandwich.
8:01 PM: Oh, dear. It looks like I may have cursed the CORE guys. They’re in the lane with what may be a terminal engine problem. Now, they are being wheeled back to the garage. And another tire has gone on a Ford GT! Michelin runners are really having issues, today.
7:52 PM: Back to green and Pla pulls away, immediately. Another log jam into turn one but everyone appears to get through cleanly. The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari gets through for fourth against the #23 WeatherTech Porsche in GTD. Alessandro Balzan and Alex Riberas driving the cars, respectively. Dom Farnbacher receives a penalty from third in class, promoting the two previously mentioned racers.
HOUR 5 UPDATE: The DeltaWing’s untimely accident means the Ligier P2 cars are free to lead the way again. Mike Shank’s #60 leads from the DPs of Adam, Fittipaldi, and Hartley. CORE has the class lead in PC and if recent years are anything to go by, the rest of the field will have trouble catching them without mechanical issues. Mike Rockenfeller leads GTLM for Corvette in the #3 ahead of the #912 and #911 Porsches as it has been for most of this race. Paul Miller’s Lamborghini still leads the GT Daytona class with Madison Snow behind the reigns of the Huracan.
7:37 PM: #67 Ford GT cuts a tire and pits to replace it. Not a fun debut. Meanwhile, the #38 Performance Tech PC car spins in the bus stop and brings out the fourth FULL COURSE YELLOW.
7:32 PM: The DeltaWing has officially retired from the race due to tub damage, joining the #70 Mazda in closing its doors for the event.
7:30 PM: With dinner time nigh, tell me your race snacks. Also, please bring me your race snacks.
7:24 PM: Rubens Barichello replaces Angelelli in the Taylor car. Johnny Adam pits the Wheelen car for maintenance and heads back out. Brendon Hartley is in for a standard stop at the moment. Can either of the Ganassi cars take overall victory in their last Protoype race?
7:21 PM: Scheduled stop for the #55 is a success and Bomarito stays in for another stint. Pla stops a lap later and takes fuel and tires, only.
7:15 PM: The battle for PC has heated up with Wilkins taking CORE to the lead! The #98 Aston which was running strongly has copped a penalty for spinning its wheels while in the air, similarly to the DeltaWing incident an hour ago.
7:03 PM: The dominant force of Protoype Challenge in recent years, CORE Autosport, has moved into second in class. The #85 has been in the pits for quite some time now.
6:56 PM: #93 Viper, representing the great country of Texas, is up to second in GTD. He’s ahead of Mathias Lauda in the AMR car and behind the Miller Lambo of Bryan Sellers.
6:50 PM: The #10 received a penalty for… something. WHO KNOWS. Possibly the pass under local yellows, earlier. The P2s are back in control with the Pla now leading for Shank ahead of the Mazda.
6:43 PM: More chaos on the restart as McMurray spins the 02! Everyone does some dancing to avoid clobbering him and he rejoins at the tail of the field. It’s now the #10 WTR DP who leads ahead of the #55 Mazda Prototype.
HOUR 4 UPDATE: Initially, a drive through penalty set the DeltaWing back but it’s a parked PC car and IMSA’s incompetence that helps to put it out of contention. The PR1 machine leads PC with Nicholas Boulle driving. It’s still a Corvette, Porsche affair in GTLM with the #4 Milner leading. The PMR Lmaborghini continues its GTD dominance.
6:32 PM: Angelelli and Adam swapped spots avoiding the #8 but Max addresses it during the stops to avoid a penalty. Now it’s the GT field’s turn.
6:29 PM: Pit stops under yellow, occurring. Unbelievably shambolic by IMSA. Meyrick was warned by his spotters but he says he couldn’t hear them. The #8 was parked flat in the middle of the track for at least a minute and IMSA still didn’t throw a yellow. How disappointing for the form team of the race, thus far.
6:24 PM: NOOOOOOO! The DeltaWIng has clouted the #8! The car has significant damage and now IMSA chooses to throw the full course yellow. How heartbreaking. How very heartbreaking.
6:22 PM: Now, the #8 Starworks car is in strife, stopped dead center in turn one! Everyone is taking evasive action to avoid him but there’s still no safety car.
6:15 PM: The sun has set and it’s the #02 Ganassi car back in the lead. In GTLM, it’s the #4 and #3 Corvettes in front of the #911 and #912 Porsches.
6:11 PM: The Rolex 24 Twitter account is taking haikus and here is mine:
Delta Wing is fast
Fun, neat, cool, interesting
VROOM VROOM VROOM VROOM VROOM
6:05 PM: Penalty for the DeltaWing incoming thanks to spinning the wheels during the pit stop. Strangely, Meyrick said he had his foot on the clutch when it happened.
6:00 PM: Pit stops for the leaders! Johnny Adam gets control of the #31 as Angelelli stays in the #10. Another slight hiccup for the Delta Wing but once again it isn’t too harmful.
5:57 PM: Meyrick is surging now behind the wheel of #0. He’s howling Bomarito piloted Mazda for third and should soon be on the leaders after that.
5:52 PM: Problems for one of the PC contenders! Sean Johnston loses control of the Starworks car at pit exit and does some serious damage to the left hand side of the car. It’s back to the garage, for them.
5:46 PM: We’re being treated to a Babe Rahal interview on FS2 as Max the Ax and Dane Cameron duke it out for the overall lead.
HOUR 3 UPDATE: Things have steadied with the Delta Wing continuing to impress but a few of the DPs are starting to show their nose. With the strategies jumbled, the #02 with Jamie McMurray leads overall from Dane Cameron in the #31. PC is led by, you guessed it, Simpson. It’s still a Lambo 1-2 in GTD with Sellers leading the fight for PMR. In GTLM, also with a few jumbled strategies, it’s the #4 and #3 Corvette in front of the #911 Porsche.
5:28 PM: The #66 slows on circuit, again. Bigger drama for the #11 O’Gara Huracan which had been running well in GTD but is now behind the wall!
5:22 PM: GTLM is still a contest between Estre in the #911 and Garcia in the #3 ‘Vette. PC has cycled back to the same order: Stephenson leading the Starworks entry driven by Sean Johnston and the PR1 #52 with Robert Alon piloting. Drama for the #26 BAR1 Motorsports PC entry, which is being worked on in the lane.
5:12 PM: It’s now Lambos 1-2-3 in GTD. Fabio Babini has the Konrad car on the podium, behind Miller and Sweedler for PMR and O’Gara. Stops for the protoype leaders beginning, with the #10 WTR Corvette biting the bone first and Max Angelelli getting in for his first stint. The #2 ESM car is in as well and no driver change for Van Overbeek, but there is a problem for the right rear. The Delta Wing stalls again, but it doesn’t eat as much of their time on this occasion. Andy Meyrick now has control of the dominant car of the race.
5:05 PM: Legge locks up and does into the abyss of the turn one run off. She keeps the lead but Jordan Taylor is a bit closer, now. Antonio Garcia takes command of the #3 Corvette as the team makes its second stop.
5:00 PM: Matt McMurry loops the Park Place Porsche (I hope my “p” key doesn’t somehow break) in the infield but spins it back in the right direction.
4:56 PM: The defending IndyCar champion and one of the millions of racing drivers nicknamed “the iceman,” Scott Dixon brings in car 02 in for its second stop. The Delta Wing cycles back to the lead. Pit stop for the PC leading JDC-Miller car goes smoothly.
4:50 PM: The #25 BMW now with *Rick Allen voice* PRAHBLEMS. The M6 is on the apron, crawling its way to the crew with a right rear tire failure. The #3 Corvette, piloted by Jan Magnuessen, has gone to second in GTLM.
4:45 PM: A bit dodgy in the battle for third! Cameron slams the door on Legge who eventually gets the spot, but surely their heart would’ve skipped a beat.
HOUR 2 UPDATE: More problems for the Ford GTs highlighted the second hour. The #66’s kill switch was toying with them, bringing out a the second safety car. Both are now multiple laps down. The Delta Wing and others took advantage to pit, but Legge’s slow exit cost them a few position – nothing too major. the #02 Ganassi DP leads the way but needs to make its second stop. Stephen Simpson is still sailing in PC ahead of the Performance Tech entry. Porsche continues its romp with Tandy leading Bamber and the #3 Corvette in third. The #48 PMR Lambo maintains the lead in GTD with one of the new Stevenson R8’s, the no. 6 to be exact in second.
4:34 PM: Congestion causes mayhem at the bus stop! The Shank entry slaps the rear of the ESM Ligier. Both continue, but the #60 MSR racer is showing signs of the contact.
4:29 PM: It’s DPs at the front, currently. Dixon who did not pit, Cameron, Taylor are the top three. The #5 is in the walls! Barbosa sticks it in the tires after locking up.
4:25 PM: Not only is a faulty kill switch giving the #66 GT grief, but Hand reports that traction control is turning on and off. They are now six laps down.
4:19 PM: More stops under safety car and OH, NO! The Delta Wing is struggling out of its box. It’s dropped to the back of the Prototype class! More pain for Ganassi with Lance Stroll unable to discern where in the safety car line, he’s supposed to be. Legge stays in the #0, thankfully able to continue the fight.
4:15 PM: More drama for Hand who is going at a snail’s pace on track! Not the ideal debut for the hyped Ford GT, but the second full course yellow of the race has been triggered.
4:10 PM: Derani hsa the overall lead, again, with Legge’s stop. 1 seconds is the margin to the Delta Wing. The top three in PC is, as follows: #85 JDC, #52 PR1, #88 Starworks. Kevin Estre is in the GTLM leading Porsche now with its stablemate being navigated by Earl Bamber in second. In GTD, it’s Bell for O’Gara and Bryce Miller PMR in first and second, both driving Lamborghini Huracans.
4:02 PM: Reminder to switch to Fox Sports 2 for continued TV coverage. the #3 has to perform some gymnastics after completing its stop – backing up and exiting to avoid hitting someone else’s pit equipment. Meanwhile, the #01 Ganassi DP has slowed on course. More problems for Ganassi, now on their Ford GTs. The #66 is stuck in the lane with a brake caliper emergency. The #33 Viper now stops to refuel the V10 and switch drivers.
3:57 PM: Second round of stops starting for those who took advantage to pit under the first safety car. The #10 and #60 cars complete their stops without a hitch, Jordan Taylor replacing his brother. Now Legge brings in the Delta Wing from a 25 second lead. The #4 Corvette GTLM car has been awarded a drive through penalty for speeding on entry. Both Ganassi cars stop, as well.
3:52 PM: If you’re looking for a little bit closer view of the race, you can add Shane Van Gisbergen, the V8 Supercars on Snapchat at svg97. The Kiwi is once again competing with the WeatherTech team.
3:47 PM: Hand gets balked, again, and loses track position to the #4 Corvette -Oliver Gavin driving – and the SMP Ferrari ahead of him.
HOUR 1 UPDATE: The P2s and Delta Wing have shown ominous speed in the opening 60 minutes with Katherine Legge in front of the field after Derani’s stop. Simpson has lead all the way in PC, driving the #85. As always, it’s been fast and furious in GTLM but it’s Porsche, as they so often do, leading with Tandy. The Paul Miller Lamborghini heads GTD ahead of Richie Stanaway in the AMR machine. The #67 Ford GT suffered a gearbox issue early on and has just rejoined while the #70 Mazda Prototype gave up the ghost 20 minutes in to bring out the first full course yellow.
3:35 PM: Derani pits from the lead and cycles Kat Legge in the “America’s already great because the Delta Wing is leading” Delta Wing. The #67 has solved its issues and has re-entered the motor race.
3:30 PM: You might be asking what’s going on in PC. You’re not? Okay, I’ll give you an update anyway: Stephen Simpson leads for JDC-Miller Motorsports ahead of the PR1/Mathiasen competitor with Kimber-Smith behind the wheel. Hand and Brunni exchange second briefly but the Ferrari holds it.
3:27 PM: The cars second through fifth in GTLM are nose to tail in an epic battle pack. Brunni is now second in the SMP Ferrari 488 with Hand in second as they struggle around the slower PC and GTD racers.
3:24 PM: Legge is looking aggressive in the Delta Wing! She goes to the inside of the Shank Ligier in the bus stop to take second in class and overall.
3:17 PM: Hand gets the lead! The GT has legs down the front straight and pulls around the outside of the Porsche. The top three are working through traffic so the battle is far from done. As I’m typing, Hand gets boxed in while trying to pass cars in the infield. Tandy makes a bold move around the outside to retake first and continues his march through the slower entries.
3:13 PM: Derani — who did not pit —- leads the field back to green in the Honda powered Ligier. There’s a huge stack up in the midfield and they stream down to turn one three-wide everywhere. It’s on in GTLM between the #911 Porsche piloted by Tandy and #66 Ford with Hand behind the wheel.
3:09 PM: Now the pits open for the GT cars. A wheel has gone rouge and wandered into the tri-oval grass. Sadly, the #67 Ford GT is beind rolled into the garage.
3:05 PM: Quite a number of prototypes have taken advantage of the full course yellow to pit.
3:01 PM: The prone Mazda has triggered the first safety car of the race, 21 minutes in.
2:59 PM: Briscoe reports the GT was stuck in 6th gear and the Ganassi team is hard at work searching for a fix. Meanwhile, the Delta Wing is up to third! They’ve been quick in the dry and they might be genuine contenders. Of course, they still have their past reliability issues to overcome. Now the #70 Mazda Protoype, powered by gasoline this year, has suddenly come to a halt in the infield.
2:54 PM: The 911 RSRs have continued that trend of running away with things, pulling four seconds on a Corvette, BMW, Ford battle. Near the end of the GTLM field, the #3 C7 and #67 Ford GT battle and now the blue oval product slows! Drama early on for the car that’s received much of the buzz this month.
2:50 PM: Marc Basseng in the Konrad Lambo has begun the GT3 era of the GTD class by leading with Townsend Bell in the O’Gara Huracan making it a 1-2.
2:48 PM: It’s a Ligier battle at the front with Negri now on the rear end of Derani.
2:44 PM: Aleshin now coming under pressure from Ricky Taylor in the WTR Corvette DP for 3rd.
2:40 PM: Mikhail Aleshin leads the Prototype field to the green flag but Luis Felipe Derani makes a move around the outside to take the lead for ESM! Meanwhile, the #911 Porsche goes into turn one in front of the GT classes.
2:38 PM: SAM POSEY NARRATION EVERYONE QUIET
2:31 PM: Tom Kristensen gives the command and the cars set out on the parade and pace laps.
2:12 PM: We have an intro from Fox Sports! Like with Formula E, they don’t know how to mix sound.
2:02 PM: Turns out, the hoops is running long so pre-race hasn’t quite started yet.
2:00 PM: With 30 minutes before the drop of the green flag, television coverage of the event has begun. Tune into Fox Sports 1 for the start of the race!
(Cover image provided by IMSA’s Twitter account)