Penske Racing's #16 Porsche Riley returned to the lead of the Rolex 24 at Daytona as the race approached the eleven-hour mark under cover of darkness.
The car, a frontrunner from the start, is one of five still on the lead lap overall as the gruelling event continues to take its toll. The GT class leader, TRG's #66 Porsche GT3 Cup, is now up to tenth overall, but is running alone on the lead lap in its category as veteran Emmanuel Collard controls the class.
While Penske, Brumos and Ganassi continued to enjoy relative reliability, however, it was sad to see the two Michael Shank Racing transporters leaving the track in the early stages of the race. All but one driver, John Pew, got to drive, but both the #6 and #60 Ford Rileys retired with the same engine problem, caused by a faulty trigger sensor.
Having seen AJ Allmendinger grind to a halt while leading in MSR's #6, Ryan Hunter-Reay also suffered the ignominy of bringing out a caution when the #60 suffered the same fate, stopping on the NASCAR apron between turns three and four.
"This race was a lot like last year - we had a strong car, a fast pace and a good line-up but something out of our control knocked us out,” MSR team-mate Colin Braun said of the #60's demise, “Unfortunately this puts Mark [Patterson] and Ozz [Oswaldo Negri] behind the eight-ball as far as their championship goes, so I feel bad about that.
“But this was out of our hands. We were in great shape, just doing the laps and being on the pace. The car was great, but that's racing."
Krohn Racing has also retired one of its two Ford Lola DPs with a broken crank sensor, and the Ford contingent was also hit when AIM Motorsports' suffered engine problems, having already changed a gearbox on its #61 Riley.
Other recent retirements include the #64 Glow Racing Porsche GT3, out with broken driveshaft, and the #22 Allegra Motorsports BMW Riley, which was eliminated when Chapman Ducote hit the turn six wall. The similar #55 BMW Riley has also been behind the wall with a transmission problem, while perhaps the most bizarre retirement of the night came when the roof flew off the #13 Pontiac Riley of Jordan Taylor approaching the eleven-hour mark.
Sometime leader SunTrust Racing – owned and run by Taylor's father Wayne - took its #10 Ford Dallara to the garage with brake and exhaust problems, losing a lap changing the brakes, while the #58 that carried Brumos hopes for so long regained one of three lost laps while running eighth in the hands of polewinner David Donohue.