24H Daytona, 16h update: Racers Edge slots in P4
Ashton Harrison and her Racers Edge Motorsports' teammates move up to fourth in class, having also replaced a hood under caution. On the other hand, an ill-timed Full Course Yellow cost Katherine Legge a lap, but she retains eighth in GTD. Iron Dames are not giving up either and they're pushing in P17.
The first half of the race brought mixed emotions for the seven female drivers on the grid in the 2023 24 Hours of Daytona - one of the crown jewels of international motorsport. While the #93 Racers Edge Motorsports and the #66 Gradient Racing crews remain in the top ten in the GTD class, Iron Dames were soon forced to endure a series of proving challenges: an early drive through and a technical issue that cost the Italian team almost 20 laps. But despite all difficulties, Michelle Gatting, Sarah Bovy, Rahel Frey and Doriane Pin are still going strong, ready to pick up any opportunities. Ashton Harrison has so far completed three driving shifts - and has led laps in two of them. Starting from third, the #93 Racers Edge Motorsport with WTR Acura NSX was in the lead after Ryan Briscoe's first stint, who then handed over to Harrison. Similarly, Kyle Marcelli was able to get in the class lead after going off sequence in a caution, as the #93 entry remained in the top four. Harrison led again, before settling in eighth place. In the eleventh hour, Marcelli lost the hood but continued. With Harrison back behind the wheel, a lengthy full course yellow gave the team the opportunity to fit a new hood without losing track position, in seventh. The caution came just after the mid-race mark, when the #43 MRS GT-Racing LMP3 Ligier caught fire. The #66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX is also having a positive day: Sheena Monk, at her first ever race in GT3 machinery, took the start and then went on to complete double stints in the night, keeping it clean and increasingly finding pace. The JW Wentworth-sponsored NSX was always in the top ten, and in the experienced hands of Katherine Legge - also Monk's coach - the team moved up until sixth during a pit stop sequence. A well timed caution during Mario Farnbacher's stint meant that the #66 Acura was back in the lead lap, but has since then again fallen back one lap. Sheena Monk completed the minimum driving time, in a highly impressive first race in GTD, on a demanding track like Daytona and as she learned to manage traffic. Miller then held position and handed over to Katherine Legge for her second stints of the race. Unfortunately,the caution that Gradient Racing was waiting for came just as they had pitted for the driver change and, while the British racing star continued to run in eighth place, she was now one further lap behind. Having rejoined in 20th place after the long pit stop, when the #83 Lamborghini was brought behind the wall for repairs, Sarah Bovy, Michelle Gatting, Doriane Pin kept pushing as the sun went down over the iconic race venue. In a similar situation to last year's Le Mans 24H, the Iron Dames showed all their determination and fighting spirit - and never gave up even with a 19 lap gap to the class leaders. During Rahel Frey's second stints, the pink Huracan gained a few spots and moved up to P17, where Doriane Pin then picked up the #83 Lambo. With 11 hours to go, Ashton Harrison had gained sixth place just before Ryan Briscoe jumped back in the car. The three-time Daytona winner would grab fourth in the following hours. While there were exciting battles at the top of each class, positions settled further behind. In the overall classification, the #60 Meyer Shank and #10 Konica Minolta Acuras hit trouble: while the long-time race leading #60 Acura had repairs in pitlane during a Full Course Yellow and could retain the position, the #10 was briefly behind the wall and lost two laps. At the restart, Pagenaud and Porsche's Cameron had a superb side-by-side battle and, while the Frenchman initially had the upper hand, the Acura continued to require attention at each pit stop. With 9 hours to go, Nick Tandy (#6 Porsche) was the new leader, ahead of the Cadillacs of Lynn and Bourdais. But it was no plain sailing also for Cadillac - who had its #31 entry going behind the wall with technical issues. With eight hours left on the clock, Bourdais and Lynn were swapping places on top of the leaderboard, with Castroneves attempting a recovery in the #60 Meyer Shank Acura. An off track at speed for Tandy in the #6 Porsche also proved costly for Porsche, which now dropped three laps behind. A 60 second stop and go penalty for the #44 Magnus Racing for running a red light at pit exit gained Ryan Briscoe and his Racers Edge Motorsports teammates fourth in GTD. Just before his 20th pit stop, Briscoe was once again briefly in the lead, before the order was restored.
With eight hours to go, the Harrison Contracting-sponsored Acura sits fourth in class, the Gradient Racing Acura is eighth and Iron Dames continue to run in 17th.