DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Action Express Racing’s No. 48 Cadillac DPi was at the front of the field after eight hours of racing in the 59th Rolex 24 at Daytona Int’l Speedway on Saturday night.
Kobayashi, who is sharing the No. 48 with an all-star cast of drivers including seven-time NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson, IndyCar and Indianapolis 500 champion Simon Pagenaud and 24 Hours of Le Mans and Rolex 24 winner Mike Rockenfeller, was able to slip by the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi driven by Renger van der Zande in traffic entering the infield portion of the course to take the lead.
He was able to maintain the lead through a cycle of green-flag pit stops that were completed seconds before the completion of the eighth hour of action Saturday night.
Prior to that battle to the lead between Kobayashi and van der Zande, a penalty for a restart violation dropped the No. 5 JDC-Miller MotorSports entry out of the fight for the overall lead.
The fifth full-course caution, which waved for the stopped No. 19 GRT Grasser Racing Team Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, left Scott Dixon in the No. 01 entry at the front of the field ahead of Kobayashi and the No. 5 JDC-Miller MotorSports Cadillac DPi driven by Loic Duvall.
During the ensuing restart, Duvall got a massive jump on the two DPi entries in front of him, blasting from third to first as the field raced into the infield portion of the course. However, after a review of the restart, IMSA officials penalized Duvall for jumping the restart.
Duvall was forced to serve a pass-through penalty as a result, leaving the No. 5 entry roughly 50 seconds behind the leader after eight hours.
In LMP2, the No. 11 WIN Autosport Oreca 07-Gibson continued to control the pack with Thomas Merrill holding a lead of more than 50 seconds over his closest pursuer. Merrill is sharing the No. 11 with Tristan Nunez, Steven Thomas and Matthew Bell.
The No. 6 Duqueine D08 of Muehlner Motorsport was in command of the LMP3 class after eight hours, with Stevan McAleer steering the team to a lead of nearly one minute over Joao Barbosa in the No. 33 Sean Creach Motorsports entry. McAleer is sharing the No. 6 with Mortiz Kranz, Laurents Horr and Kenton Koch.
Corvette Racing continued to dominate the GT Le Mans class, with the No. 3 Corvette C8.R continuing to hold the lead with Antonio Garcia now behind the wheel. The second Corvette entry was giving chase in second, with Tommy Milner at the wheel of the No. 4 entry as the race moved into the morning hours.
AF Corse and Ferrari had moved into the class lead in the GT Daytona class after eight hours were complete, with the No. 21 Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo driven by Nicklas Nielsen holding a narrow lead over the No. 1 Paul Miller Motorsports Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo being wheeled by Andrea Caldarelli.