24H Daytona, 12h update: Monk keeps Gradient Acura in Top-10, Harrison stays on the lead lap
Half race distance at the Daytona 24 Hours and both the #93 and #66 Acuras are steadily in the top-10. Sheena Monk kept the Gradient racing NSX in the top-ten in her GT3 debut; Ashton Harrison remains on the lead lap in GTD.
Mid-way through the 2023 Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona, the two Acura teams fielding female racing drivers remain in the top 10 in the GTD class, after more runs by Ashton Harrison - who led laps in both of her stints - and Sheena Monk, who did extraordinary well in her GTD debut. Iron Dames had to overcome several challenges throughout the opening hours, but the quartet made up a few places in Frey's latest stint. The Racers Edge Motorsports Acura of Ashton Harrison, Kyle Marcelli, Danny Formal and Ryan Briscoe had an outstanding first half of the race, after starting from third with Marcelli behind the wheel. Ashton Harrison briefly took the lead in her first stint of the day, before the team settled in the top ten in the following hours. After really strong runs by Formal and three-time Daytona winner Ryan Briscoe put the #93 Harrison Contracting NSX in the top five at the 8 hour mark, when the Australian was steadily in fourth in class. Having gone off-sequence to the top three, the Racers Edge Motorsport with WTR machine was back on top of the leaderboard during a lengthy caution in the ninth hour of racing, when a displaced tyre barrier at turn 6 required the fifth neutralization. Briscoe had just pitted and handed over to Kyle Marcelli, who kept the lead until the next pit stop. There was progress also for the #66 Gradient Racing Acura; driven by GT3 rookie Sheena Monk at the start, Marc Miller kept it in the top ten throughout the first four hours of racing. At her eleventh Daytona - and seventh in GTD, Legge has been close to claiming victory on numerous occasions and is putting all her experience at Monk's disposal, who proved to be a fast learner during the ROAR weekend. Legge made big progress in her first stints and took the #66 Gradient Acura to sixth in class, before Monk was back behind the wheel for her first ever racing stint in the dark, once the sun had set over the iconic Daytona International Speedway. Monk found her rhythm and, just before Mario Farnbacher took over, she was back in the top ten. While initially one lap down, the German factory driver made up a few positions. Iron Dames had a challenging start to their new North American adventure. Rahel Frey - the only driver on the line-up who had previously raced at Daytona - qualified in P15 and took the start, effectively launching Iron Dames' new era with the Lamborghini program. Frey climbed up to tenth at the one hour mark, when she pitted and left the wheel to Sarah Bovy. An unfortunate drive through penalty for having too many crew over the wall cost Iron Dames one lap, but Bovy was still chasing the GTD competitors in P15. Michelle Gatting continued the charge with a two hour double-stint; but again, all went wrong in the fifth hour, when a technical issue forced Sarah Bovy to limp back to the pits and the Huracan GT3 EVO2 was pushed back behind the wall for repairs. Almost 20 laps later, the #83 Lamborghini reappeared, with Sarah Bovy again behind the wheel. The Belgian rejoined in 20th position. The history-making all-female team would gain one more position when Doriane Pin started her first ever stint in IMSA, and passed the #96 Turner Motorsport BMW. With 14 hours to go, another FCY was deployed for the #92 Kelly Moss Racing's Porsche of Davis, who caught fire at Turn 2. Marcelli took the chance to pit and Ashton Harrison was back in, third in class. All classes pitted and drivers alternated behind the wheel: Sheena Monk took over from Farnbacher, and Rahel Frey was in for Doriane Pin. The Swiss would gain 17th place, while the #66 Acura, thanks to some timely cautions, was back on the lead lap. At the restart, Harrison slipped to seventh place, just ahead of Monk; Frederick Schandorff led in the Inception Racing McLaren, ahead of Kenton Koch and Nicki Thiim. With 13 hours to go, Gradient Racing kept Monk in the car after the stops as then completed the minimum driving time; Ashton Harrison handed the #93 Acura to Kyle Marcelli - who was then spotted soon with a missing bonnet. In the overall classification, Alex Lynn (#02 Cadillac) took the lead with 16 hours to go, having passed the #31 sister car and the #10 WRT Acura. At the following caution, Renger van der Zande (#01 Cadillac) opted not to pit and moved ahead of Lynn; A penalty for the #10 Konica Minolta Acura dropped Ricky Taylor to fourth, as Blomqvist and Aitken took the lead at the following restarts.
At the 11th hour, Colin Braun brought back the #60 Meyer Shank Racing's Acura on top after passing Alexander Sims in traffic. Positions then settled, with the #93 and #66 Acuras in seventh and eighth place in GTD and the #83 Iron Dames Lamborghini currently 17th, with Michelle Gatting behind the wheel and still 12 hours to go.