#01: Cadillac Racing, Cadillac V-LMDh, GTP: Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon Jake Galstad
The field has begun to settle into the rhythm of the race as Scott Dixion and the #01 Cadillac dominate the third and fourth hours of the race.
At the end of hour two, Pipo Derani and the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac made contact with a spinning #38 Performance Tech LMP3 machine and was sent to the pits for damage repair. The subsequent yellow kicked off the first major driver change stops for the GTP outfits. Every GTP car but the #10 changed drivers to kick off the third hour, as Ricky Taylor continued his monster stint in the #10 Wayne Taylor Acura.
Alexander Sims got in the #31 as the pole-sitting Cadillac made multiple pitstops to repair a broken side mirror, putting them to the back half of the GTP field for the first time today. Taylor lead the field out of the pits, but his lead was short-lived as Dixon made the move stick and began building a massive lead at the top of the field for the #01.
The GTP field held court for quite a while with the #10 in P2 almost 20 seconds behind Dixon. But the gaps in the midfield were razor-thin as Philipp Eng in the #24 BMW M team RLL machine glued itself to Taylor’s gearbox for the long haul.
As Eng held firm on the #10, the Porsche-Penske LMDh cars followed him close behind and waged a hotly contested battle for P4. Filipe Nasr in the #7 took some looks around Eng but was overtaken by his own teammate Nick Tandy in the #6 to close out the third hour.
The fourth stint started with a massive debris explosion on track as the #66 Gradient Racing Acura lost its front right headlight after light contact with the #6 Porsche. The contact sent the Porsche to the pits for a left rear puncture and left the #66 with a massive hole in the nose of the car where the headlight once called home.
#66: Gradient Racing, Acura NSX GT3, GTD: Sheena Monk, Katherine Legge, Marc Miller Photo: Richard Dole
The headlight remained on track until it was hit by a GT car and exploded carbon fiber all over the track. No yellow was shown but quite a bit of the field made contact with the debris. The #66 turned laps with the hole in the car until it was able to find its way to the pits for some duct tape and a driver change.
It’s unclear how IMSA will deal with the #66 running one headlight when the sunsets, but for now the Gradient Racing team works their way back up the GTD field.
The fourth hour ended with an electrical issue for the #6 Porsche LMDh machine which resulted in the cockpit filling with smoke and Tandy having to drive with his door open to clear the cockpit. Tandy drove for almost a full lap with an open door before ducking into the pits to try and resolve the issue.
A hard-fought battle for the lead in GTD pro took place between the #3 Corvette and #79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes went to Jordan Taylor in the #3. The battle for the GTD Pro lead crossed over with the fight between Helio Castroneves in the #60 and Sims in the #31 for GTP P4 and the resulting traffic gave J. Taylor the edge over Marco Engel in the #79.
Dixion continues to lead the field with a decisive gap going into the middle stint of the race.
Keyword: Dixon dominates hours three and four in Sebring