Fernando Alonso, of Spain, drives early laps in his Ligier LMP2 during the IMSA 24-hour auto race at Daytona International Speedway, Saturday, Jan. 27, 2018, in Daytona Beach, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)

The Latest: Punctured tire drops Alonso's team off pace

January 27, 2018 - 10:29 pm

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — The Latest at the Rolex 24 at Daytona

10:20 p.m. (all times local)

Fernando Alonso's team fell three laps off the pace after a tire problem caused extensive damage to the car during the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Phil Hanson was driving the Ligier LMP2 as he closed in on the eight-hour mark of the endurance race at Daytona International Speedway. A tire suddenly exploded on the United Autosports entry, and Hanson had to limp the Ligier to pit road for repairs.

As the team worked to fix the damage and remove the shredded tire, Alonso replaced Hanson behind the wheel.

The team was three laps behind leader Filipe Albuquerque of Action Express Racing when Alonso pulled off pit road. The team was 11th overall


10:15 p.m.

The two Ford entries from Chip Ganassi Racing have taken control of the GT Le Mans class in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Ganassi is seeking an eighth Rolex victory this year and was the grand marshal for the race that began Saturday at Daytona International Speedway. His two cars had put the rest of the GTLM class at least one lap off the pace seven hours into the endurance race.

Sebastien Bourdais was out front in the No. 66 Ford GT he is co-driving with Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. The car won its class last year for Ganassi's seventh victory. The team owner has six overall wins from when he entered cars in the prototype division.

The entry shared by Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon was running second in class behind its sister car. The Ganassi organization is seeking its 200th victory in major auto racing.


8:40 p.m.

Mike Conway in a Cadillac for Action Express Racing had the overall lead six hours into the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

The Cadillac teams seem to have the advantage and have led most of the race at Daytona International Speedway. Helio Castroneves in an Acura was running second overall, but a pair of Cadillacs were right behind the Team Penske driver.

Cadillac teams had three of the top four spots six hours into the twice-round-the-clock endurance race.

Sebastien Bourdais was leading the GT Le Mans class for Chip Ganassi Racing in a Ford.

In the GT Daytona class, Kelvin van der Linde was leading in an Audi for Montasplant by Land Motorsport.


5:50 p.m.:

Ricky Taylor did his scheduled stint in the Rolex 24 at Daytona and declared himself fit to complete the endurance race.

Taylor was diagnosed with the flu earlier this week and spent much of the preparations for the twice-round-the-clock endurance race in quarantine and away from the Team Penske organization. He was treated with Tamiflu.

Taylor said he was determined to do his part in the debut of Team Penske's new Acura sports car program and did not want to force teammates Helio Castroneves and Graham Rahal to carry a heavier load.

After a little over two hours behind the wheel, he said he felt strong enough for the Penske driver rotation to stay on schedule.


5:20 p.m.:

Fernando Alonso finished his first stint in a major sports car race wondering how his United Autosports team can overcome a speed deficiency.

The two-time Formula One champion hinted that rain at Daytona International Speedway could be the equalizer.

Alonso's team includes his McLaren F1 understudy Lando Norris and IMSA regular Phil Hansen. If storms roll over the Rolex 24 at Daytona as expected, Alonso believes driver experience in the rain could help United Autosports.

The Ligier LMP2 was seventh and still on the lead lap after Alonso's stint in the car.


4:35 p.m:

Helio Castroneves says a broken latch on his Acura led Team Penske to fall a lap off the pace in the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

Castroneves started Saturday's race second and found he was too aggressive at the beginning. After reminding himself he had 23 more hours to get the Penske organization to the end, he calmed down for the rest of his stint.

He turned the car over to Ricky Taylor and Taylor struggled to get the door closed as he headed to the track. The team discovered it was a broken latch and Taylor had to come to pit road for a repair.

The Penske team dropped to sixth after the stop.

Taylor has been battling the flu all week and Castroneves said they aren't sure how much Taylor will contribute during the endurance race. Castroneves and Graham Rahal are prepared to pick up slack if Taylor is ill.


4:10 p.m:

Roger Penske's return to sports car racing took a hit Saturday when one of his entries had an issue closing the door of its Acura.

Helio Castroneves started the Rolex 24 at Daytona in second and handed the car off to Ricky Taylor about 75 minutes into the race. There was an issue with the door of the Acura on the driver change and Taylor was struggling to pull it closed. He had to return to pit road for the Team Penske crew to repair the door.

Taylor has been battling the flu this week as he prepared for his debut with Penske.

He was part of last year's Wayne Taylor Racing team that won this race and the IMSA championship


2:40 p.m.

Wayne Taylor Racing has led the field to green in the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona.

The Taylor team is the defending race winner, but has an overhauled lineup this year and Dutch driver Renger van der Zande won the pole in a Cadillac Di.

The twice-round-the-clock endurance race marks the return to full-time competition in sports cars for Roger Penske. His two-car Acura effort is stacked with talent and Helio Castroneves started the race second. He will give way to Ricky Taylor, who was battling the flu and too sick to qualify the car.

Two-time Formula One world champion Fernando Alonso is making his major sports car debut. The Spaniard is in the race because he's trying to complete a bucket list of the best events in the world.


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