DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Seeking their third Rolex 24 at Daytona win in the last decade, Action Express Racing has dominated the opening stages of the 2018 running of the 24-hour endurance classic.
Led by the No. 5 Cadillac DPi of Joao Barbosa, Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi, the team dominated the race after taking command during the first round of pit stops, not ceding the point save for pit stops all the way to the four-hour benchmark.
Barbosa dropped to pit lane for a driver change mere moments before the four-hour mark, handing the car over to Fittipaldi and actually allowing the United Autosports Ligier of Phil Hanson to take the official lead at the top of the hour.
As the cycle worked itself out, the No. 5 Cadillac regained the advantage over the No. 2 Extreme Speed Motorsports Nissan DPi of Ryan Dalziel, Scott Sharp and Olivier Pla, sitting seven seconds clear, with the defending race-winning No. 10 Cadillac DPi from Wayne Taylor Racing following behind in third.
Hanson, who is sharing the No. 23 Ligier from United Autosports with two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso and Lando Norris, fell to ninth at the conclusion of the cycle.
In GT Le Mans, the No. 66 Ford GT from Chip Ganassi Racing of Dirk Muller, Joey Hand and Sebastien Bourdais held a commanding six-second gap over the No. 911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet, Nick Tandy and Frederick Markowiecki.
The GT Daytona class lead was held by the Team Riley No. 33 Mercedes AMG-GT3 of Luca Stölz, Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Adam Christodoulou, with second place in class going to the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Christopher Mies, Jeffrey Schmidt, Kelvin van der Linde and Sheldon van der Linde.
Only one caution period has slowed the pace through the first four hours of action, coming two hours, 29 minutes and 28 seconds into the 24-hour timing period for the stalled No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Prototype of James French in NASCAR turn three.
About the Writer
Jacob Seelman is the Managing Editor of Race Chaser Online and creator of the Motorsports Madness radio show, airing at 7 p.m. Eastern every Monday on the Performance Motorsports Network.
Seelman grew up in the sport, watching his grandparents co-own the RaDiUs Motorsports NASCAR Cup Series team in the 1990s.
The 24-year-old is currently studying Broadcast Journalism at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, S.C., and is also serving as the full-time tour announcer for the Must See Racing Sprint Car Series.
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