No. 946
May 16, 2018
 

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Oct092017

OCTOBER 11, 2017

(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Ryan Dalziel, Scott Sharp and Brendon Hartley (No. 2 ESM Tequila Patrón Nissan DPi) won the finale of the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship on Saturday - the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. They finished 7.633 seconds ahead of Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac-branded Dallara DPi (co-driven by Eric Curran and Mike Conway). “We had a really strong middle of the race,” Hartley said. “We had a comfortable lead, actually. We had a little problem halfway through, which put us P4 or P5, so we had to fight back. I got past Filipe Albuquerque just before the last safety car. He got me back in the pits. Then, with the last restart, that was nuts. I mean, the three or four race contenders were at the back of the GTs and it was mayhem. In the end, I kept it clean, and the other two didn’t and that’s how I ended up in the lead. I was looking forward to a good scrap at the end with Filipe. It was a shame he got a penalty. It would have been a nice finish of the race, but I’m so proud of everyone involved, Ryan, Scott, the whole team. Not a scratch on the car after 10 hours of hard racing, and around here that says a lot. Awesome race.” Check out John Thawley's fabulous photo gallery from Petit Le Mans here.

(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Despite the late-race contretemps, 2016 WeatherTech Championship Prototype champions Dane Cameron and Eric Curran – who were joined for this race by Mike Conway – came home second in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac-branded Dallara DPi. It was Cameron’s final race with the team before joining the new Team Penske Acura DPi program next year.
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud (No. 6 Team Penske ORECA LM P2) had an eventful race. Castroneves started the race but got punted off the track by a GT car early on, which put the super team down two laps, but they clawed their way back all the way to third at the end of the race. Editor-in-Chief's Note: Acura Team Penske announced its full-time sports car driver lineup today (October 11) for the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. Recently-crowned IMSA Prototype Champion Ricky Taylor will race in the Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype International (DPi) with Helio Castroneves in one of the team’s two full-time entries. They will join the previously-announced pairing of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron. In addition, Graham Rahal and 2016 Verizon IndyCar Series Champion Simon Pagenaud will join the program as endurance drivers when the team makes its competition debut with the new Acura prototype sports cars at IMSA’s 2018 season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona in January and the 12 Hours of Sebring in March.

(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor brought home the 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship title for their father’s Wayne Taylor Racing team, ending a dominant campaign in their No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac-branded Dallara DPi-V.R. The brothers swept the first five races of the season, and added two more podium results over the final five races to clinch the title. The Taylors will celebrate their accomplishments Monday night in the WeatherTech Night of Champions at Chateau Elan Winery and Resort in Braselton, Georgia.
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Alexander Sims (No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM co-driven by Bill Auberlen and Kuno Wittmer) held off Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette racing C7.R) over a final 28-minute sprint to the checkered flag to give Team RLL its third GT Le Mans (GTLM) win of the season Saturday in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was a milestone victory for Auberlen, who was making his 400th career start with BMW. It was his 58th career IMSA win, putting him two behind Scott Pruett who leads all-time with 60 wins. “I'm the most fortunate person in the world,” said Auberlen. “It’s been a privilege driving for BMW for 21 years, and on my 400th race to win... I'm amongst a lot of great guys here, a lot of great teammates. A lot of the smartest people in the world here working for BMW. I'm very thankful and so happy.” “Co-driving with such a legend, I mean this guy is amazing to drive with,” added Wittmer. “He teaches every young kid out there a trick or two. And Alex (Sims) at the end, a ball of talent. It’s just really, really pleasant to be with these two guys.” The No. 25 BMW team finished the season second in the GTLM standings. Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and Alessandro Pier Guidi (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE) finished third in GTLM on Saturday.
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Though Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R) finished second in GTLM on Saturday, they won the GTLM driver and team class championships. Chevrolet also won the manufacturer championship. The duo was joined by Mike Rockenfeller in the runner-up effort at Road Atlanta. “It’s been a hard-fought year for Corvette Racing,” said Magnussen. “We haven’t always had the fastest car, but I think we got the most out of it. We overachieved on the bad weekends and got a little more out of it than we should have. To be in a category that is this competitive where the cars are so close and you are fighting every lap, to have a points margin this big at the end of the year means we did a lot of stuff right.” Garcia, Magnussen and the No. 3 Corvette team will be crowned Monday night at the Chateau Élan Winery & Resort in Braselton, Georgia. The WeatherTech Night of Champions will recognize team, driver and manufacturer champions in all four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship classes – Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM), Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) – as well as recognize champions of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. "This championship was absolutely a team effort," said Mark Reuss, Executive Vice President, Global Product Development, Purchasing and Supply Chain. "The drivers, crew members and engineers were versatile and adaptable, and everybody on the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team contributed throughout the season. Jan and Antonio were consistent, smart behind the wheel and took advantage of opportunities when it mattered most. This was a hard-earned championship."
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Connor De Phillippi, Sheldon van der Linde and Christopher Mies (No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3) delivered an impressive victory in the GTD class in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. It was the team’s third start of the season after finishing second at Daytona and fourth at Sebring. It was the first career WeatherTech Championship win for the team and each of its three drivers. “We almost got our first win at Daytona,” said De Phillippi. “We left there with a very sour taste in our mouth because we knew it was right in front of us. We recovered, we did some homework. We improved in some areas we knew we needed to after the first two rounds and we came here and gave it all we had.” Despite a lengthy lead in the final hour, a late-race caution set up a 28-minute dash to the checkered flag with De Phillippi suddenly just ahead of the No. 28 Alegra Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Michael Christensen. It didn’t take long, however, for De Phillippi to pull away, eventually winning by 15.518 seconds. Christensen held on to second for he and co-drivers Daniel Morad and Michael de Quesada. Patrick Lindsey, Joerg Bergmeister and Matt McMurry (No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) finished third.  

(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3) won their second consecutive GTD class championship despite a ninth-place finish at Road Atlanta. While it wasn’t the finish the team was hoping for, the champions rode remarkable consistency to the title with seven podium finishes and one win on the season. “We did a thing that not a lot of people have done,” Nielsen said. “One is fine, but twice is even greater. This one is even tougher than last year. The mentality of never resting on previous results, and always pushing and working harder than we ever have before has been our advantage. And that’s why we’re standing here today.” “At the very end, we were also able to win the manufacturer championship for Ferrari on its 70th anniversary so it’s great honestly,” said Balzan. “The race was not easy, but I’m focused on what we won. And I really want to thank everybody because it’s a great season.”
(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
The final race in the history of the Prototype Challenge (PC) class featured a trio of first-time winners in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition. John Falb, Garett Grist and Tomy Drissi (No. 26 BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09) raced to victory in the 20th Anniversary Motul Petit Le Mans on Saturday at Road Atlanta, breaking a seven-race PC win streak by the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 team. The complexion of the PC race changed just past the halfway point in the 10-hour race. Leader Kyle Masson in the No. 38 machine was involved in an incident with the No. 13 Rebellion Racing ORECA LM P2 car of Nick Heidfeld, removing both cars from contention. Two laps later, Drissi took the lead from his BAR1 teammate, Buddy Rice in the No. 20 entry. The teammates traded the class lead a couple of times in the sixth hour, but the No. 26 pulled away over the last three-and-a-half hours to win by eight laps. While it was the first WeatherTech Championship win for all three drivers, it was Drissi’s fourth career IMSA win, with three previous victories in the American Le Mans Series. Falb and Grist had not won previously at the top levels of IMSA.“ The PC class, you know, it really did its job since 2010,” Drissi said. “They were great battles, I know they weren’t the P1 or P2 cars, or the big factory teams, but some of the greatest racing in those cars will be talked about by drivers and teams and fans. I’m just so happy to be here. It was so hard to fight today. Everybody was on it ten tenths. I think before my next race I need to do some pushups.”

(John Thawley ~ Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
One race after clinching the WeatherTech Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) class title, the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 team of James French, Patricio O’Ward and Kyle Masson came within five hours of completing a historic sweep of all eight PC races in the class’ final season due to an incident. The trio still came away with a third-place trophy, and will add more hardware to their trophy case in Monday night’s WeatherTech Night of Champions when they pick up the WeatherTech Championship PC season championship, as well as the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup. It was an outstanding season for the No. 38 team, which hadn’t won a WeatherTech Championship race prior to 2017. But they changed that in a big way right from the get-go this year with dominating victories at Daytona and Sebring setting the tone for their championship run. “In general, it’s a good way to go out,” French said. “We couldn’t ask for more than a championship. We really were hoping for the perfect season, though. We were so close. We just got caught up in that little incident. Through all the races, they were just a blast. We had great camaraderie between the three of us, Kyle and Pato, and with everybody on the team. We had really good results and a great time doing it.” 

(Pirelli)
Lewis Hamilton (No. 44 AMG Petronas F1 Team) won the Japanese Grand Prix on Sunday, extending his point lead in the World Driver's Championship to 59 over Sebastian Vettel (No. 5 Scuderia Ferrari), who did not finish. Max Verstappen (No. 33 Red Bull Racing) was second and Daniel Riciardo (No. 3 Red Bull Racing) finished third. Hamilton could clinch his fourth world driving title - which would make him the most successful British Grand Prix driver of all time - at the U.S. Grand Prix in Austin if he scores sixteen more points than Vettel.
(Toyota)
Martin Truex Jr. (No. 78 Furniture Row Racing Auto-Owners Insurance Toyota) won the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, guaranteeing him a spot in the third round of the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series Playoffs. Chase Elliot (No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Sunenergy1 Chevrolet) was second and Kevin Harvick (No. 4 Stewart-Haas Racing Jimmy John's Chevrolet) finished third. “Unbelievable win,” said Truex in victory lane. “Just a total team effort. Every single guy, every guy on this team, did a perfect job today and I can’t be more proud of them. This time of the year is just when you want it to happen. You dream about days like today. I don’t know if we had the best car, but we damn sure got it in victory lane.” Next up for NASCAR? The crash-fest at Talladega Superspeedway next Sunday, October 15.

(Photo by Chris Clark)
Ernie Francis, Jr. (No. 98 Breathless Pro Racing Buoniconti Fund Ford Mustang) won the New Jersey Trans Am 100 at New Jersey Motorsport Park. His eighth win of the 2017 season clinched the TA class championship with two races remaining. Nineteen-year-old Francis becomes the youngest TA class champion, overtaking series Chief Steward Wally Dallenbach, Jr., who won the title in 1985 at the age of 22.  

Editor-in-Chief's Note: All 28 class Championships Races from the Indianapolis Motor Speedway - the largest SCCA® National Championship Runoffs® ever - have been posted in one-hour-or-less segments that you can watch . Thanks to Mazda for presenting it. -PMD

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