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Sebring 12h: Martin puts BMW out front after eight hours following Derani's shunt

Following the fourth hour, a series of pitstops and several driver changes during the fourth caution resulted in Nick Yelloly cycling up into the lead in the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8 (BMW Team RLL).

Filipe Albuquerque, in the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06, progressed to second ahead of Matt Campbell in the #7 Penske Porsche 963.

The restart came 17 minutes after the conclusion of the fourth hour and featured an instant lead change as Albuquerque moved right and then darted left to make an inside pass on Yelloly entering Turn 1.

At this moment, Renger van der Zande, who took over from Scott Dixon in the #01 machine for Cadillac Racing, rose to fourth and began applying pressure to Campbell.

After an earlier lock-up that dropped him down the running order in LMP2, Ben Keating (United Autosports) rebounded back to the lead, 4.4 seconds ahead of Nick Boulle (Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports).

But there was soon a shake-up in LMP2 after Keating went wide and off course briefly before getting back on track, losing the lead in the process to Boulle as he fell to fifth in class. Riley’s Josh Burdon took over second, with Daniel Goldburg (United Autosports) assuming third.

#2 United Autosports ORECA LMP2-Gibson: Ben Keating, Nico Pino, Ben Hanley (Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images)

The GTD Pro battle also tightened with Ben Barnicoat, in Vasser Sullivan’s #14 Lexus RC F GT3, holding an advantage of six tenths of a second over Laurin Heinrich’s #77 Porsche 911 GT3 R (992) for AO Racing.

Although Albuquerque had developed a lead of over 1s over Yelloly, that began to change as the GTP cars hit traffic. Yelloly was able to push to within a tenth of the leader but wasn’t able to make a proper move for the lead and eventually fell back by over 3s.

Patrick Gallagher, piloting Turning Motorsport’s #96 BMW M4 GT3, had quietly built up a 2.5s lead in GTD over Indy Dontje in the #57 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Winward Racing.

By the end of the fifth hour, Albuquerque continued to lead Yelloly by 3s, with Campbell still in third at 10s behind.

Eight minutes after the conclusion of the fifth hour, Yelloly relinquished the runner-up spot to pit, with Albuquerque doing the same with the lead the following lap. As a result, Campbell inherited the lead, with van der Zande moving up to second and only six tenths behind.

Then it became time for Campbell to come into the pits for service, with Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti’s #40 Acura ARX-06 of Jordan Taylor following suit, along with van der Zande.

When everything had cycled, Albuquerque was back out front and with an 8s lead over Tom Blomqvist in the Action Express Racing-prepared machine of the No. 31 Cadillac V-Series.R. Yelloly fell to fourth, directly behind van der Zande.

#10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Brendon Hartley (Photo by: Jake Galstad / Motorsport Images)

Blomqvist continued to claw into Albuquerque’s lead and was within 1s with only 28 minutes remaining to the halfway mark.

PJ Hyatt brought out the sixth caution 13 minutes from halfway after ‘Spike’ – the nickname of AO Racing’s No. 99 ORECA 07 LMP2 machine – ended up in the tire barriers in Turn 11.

During the pitstops, the #12 Lexus RC F GT3 of Aaron Telitz was pulling out of his stall as the #01 Cadillac was coming in and the two made slight contact. The left rear of the Cadillac has some minor visible damage when it pulled in and also swapped van der Zande for Bourdais in the cockpit. The Lexus also had minimal visible damage. Both were able to continue, with Bourdais rejoining fourth in GTP and Telitz 11th in GTD.

“When Seb [Bourdais] got in for the race start he did a really good job, cruising along,” van der Zande said.

“It’s double stinting tires for the first half of the race and that’s really hard because these tires are at the end of their life when you get toward the end of the second stint. It got hotter and hotter in the afternoon, so even more difficult, more wear on the tire.

“Our team-mates are hanging on on old tires. There’s a long way to got and we’re right there. Early on in the race it was a great battle with the two Cadillacs and that’s what I like about this brand. They let us race but just don’t knock out each other.

Through that drama, Pipo Derani tagged in for Blomqvist and vaulted to the lead.

“It’s getting hotter out there and you can really feel it in the car,” Blomqvist said. “We did a good job that last stint to catch the leader and now I turned it over to Pipo at the front.

“Good strategy and we’ll see how the day flows into the night."

Ricky Taylor traded places with Albuquerque and took over the #10 Acura and lined up second, ahead of the #7 Penske Porsche 963 of Felipe Nasr.

#31 Action Express Racing Cadillac V-Series.R: Pipo Derani, Jack Aitken, Tom Blomqvist, #01 Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac V-Series.R: Renger van der Zande, Sebastien Bourdais, Scott Dixon, #40 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Acura ARX-06: Jordan Taylor, Louis Deletraz, Colton Herta, #7 Team Penske Motorsport Porsche 963: Dane Cameron, Felipe Nasr, Matt Campbell (Photo by: Michael L. Levitt / Motorsport Images)

Derani made a clean getaway when the race resumed 12 minutes after hitting the halfway mark, but Nasr and Bourdais were able to both get past Taylor and drop him to fourth.

Meanwhile, Jakub Smiechowski (Inter Europol by PR1 Mathiasen) held the lead in LMP2, ahead of the #11 TDS Racing entry of Hunter McElrea. Moments later, though, McElrea was able to move into the lead and extend a 1.5s gap to his rival.

The tightest battle remained in GTD Pro, with Heinrich pitting from the lead prior to the caution and reassuming from Kyle Kirkwood, who took over from Barnicoat in the Vasser Sullivan entry. Twenty minutes past halfway, Heinrich held a 2s advantage.

The GTD battle changed hands as Russell Ward, tagging in to co-drive for Dontje, moved into the lead and pushed Robby Foley, who took over for Gallagher, into second, 2.5s back.

Roughly 25 minutes after halfway, The No. 85 JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 with Phil Hanson at the helm slowed off Turn 17 and coasted to pit road.

Four minutes later, Nasr was able to get a run on Derani and make an inside pass for the lead going into Turn 17. Soon after, he built up a gap of nearly six tenths. However, Derani continued to stalk Nasr, constantly hounding the leader and filling his mirrors full of the Cadillac as they weaved in and out of traffic.

Pitstops for the leaders happened as the hour came to a close, with Nasr coming in first and Derani the next lap. After everything sorted, Derani came out with the lead and a 4s advantage over Nasr.

Only 10 minutes into the start of Hour 8 and Derani’s lead extended to nearly 9s on Nasr. Bourdais remained in third at 11s behind, with Ricky Taylor trailing closely in fourth.

McElrea continued to be in control in LMP2, holding a 12s advantage to Felipe Fraga.

Winward Racing held the top spot in GTD as Philip Ellis, who swapped with Ward, roughly 5s ahead of Gallagher.

The GTD Pro battle also settled in with Christensen – in for Heinrich – out front by 2.6s over Jack Hawksworth, who took over for Kirkwood.

Louis Deletraz, taking over for Jordan Taylor in the #40 Acura ARX-06, put together enough pace to surge up to third.

The seventh caution came out after leader Derani collided with Miguel Molina in the #21 AF Corse Ferrari 296 GT3 with just over 30 minutes remaining in the eighth hour. The contact sent Derani off in Turn 10 and full speed into the tire barriers, which then led to momentum carrying him up and into a single flip before coming to a stop upside down on the barriers.

The caution presented a chance for pitstops, with Dane Cameron swapping the seat with Nasr, who was running a distant second to Derani prior to the incident.

Through a run of strategy, Martin, running in the #25 BMW M Hybrid V8, vaulted to the lead. Although Cameron initially came out second, he returned for additional service and dropped down to ninth.

In the meantime, it allowed Jesse Krohn, in the sister #24, the chance to progress to second, ahead of Mathieu Jaminet in third, driving the #6 Penske Porsche 963.

The fourth and fifth spots in GTP – and overall – were occupied by Deletraz and Ricky Taylor, respectively. Gianmaria Bruni (#5 Proton Competition Porsche 963) stood fifth. Iron Lynx’s #63 Lamborghini SC63, making its GTP debut this weekend, elevated to seventh with Romain Grosjean.

Additionally, Scott Dixon climbed back into the #01 Cadillac in the seat previously occupied by Bourdais and lined up eighth.

After an extended cleanup period, the race restarted with 10 minutes left in hour eight, with Martin getting a clear of the field as Jaminet and Ricky Taylor jumped up to second and third. Krohn endured a dramatic drop down to sixth just moments after. Dixon, though, already charged up to fifth.

However, the gaps were all extinguished after an eighth caution for debris in Turn 1.

At this point, Tom Dillmann had the #52 ORECA 07 in the top spot of LMP2, with Jensen second.

The GTD Pro class continued to feature Christensen out front, with Inception Racing’s Frederik Schandorff leading in the #70 McLaren 720S GT3 Evo in GTD.

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