IMSA: CORE stretches fuel to win at Road America; Ford, Porsche win GTLM, GTD
A pair of cautions in the final hour of the Sunday’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase set up an economy run to the checkered flag, with an array of pit strategies factoring in during the final hour.
With 31 minutes to go, several cars, including Ryan Dalziel (Tequila Patron ESM No. 2 Nissan Onroak DPi), Helio Castroneves (No. 7 Acura Team Penske Acura ARX-05), and Oliver Jarvis (No. 77 Mazda Team Joest Mazda RT24-P) pitted for splashes of fuel, kicking off the strategic battle among the Prototype class.
Several other cars pitted soon after, chief among them being the Action Express duo of Filipe Albuquerque (No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R) and Felipe Nasr (No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac).
However, Jordan Taylor (No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac), Jonathan Bomarito (No. 55 Mazda), Colin Braun (No. 54 CORE autosport Oreca 07 Gibson), and Stephen Simpson (No. 99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca) all tried to stretch the fuel in the final stint.
Taylor led from Bomarito, with Braun and Simpson running third and fourth, while Nasr was charging forward trying to catch them.
However, Taylor ultimately needed to dive into the pits with five minutes remaining for a splash of fuel, with Bomarito doing the same. As a result, they yielded the lead to Braun, while Nasr closed in on Simpson.
And Braun was able to nurse the fuel to bring home a second consecutive Prototype class win for CORE - they won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July - while Simpson managed to hold off Nasr in the battle for second. Jordan Taylor and Dane Cameron (No. 6 ARX-05 for Acura Team Penske) rounded finished fourth and fifth.
GT Le Mans (GTLM) saw a similar battle in the final hour, as BMW Team RLL made a run at their first victory of the year by also trying to play the fuel game - their No. 25 BMW M8 GTE, in the hands of Connor De Phillippi, led in the final hour as they tried to stretch the fuel after short-filling De Phillippi on their final scheduled stop.
The pair of cautions in the final hour seemed to give them the mileage they needed to make the finish, as they led comfortably with less than 10 minutes left. But, De Phillippi ultimately ran out of fuel in the final minutes while approaching Billy Mitchell Corner.
Their misfortune opened the door for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing and Richard Westbrook, who came through in the No. 67 Ford GT to give Ford and Ganassi their fourth win in a row ahead of the Corvette Racing duo of Tommy Milner (No. 4 Corvette C7.R) and Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette).
Porsche GT Team rounded out the top five, with Earl Bamber (No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR) and Patrick Pilet (No. 911) finishing fourth and fifth. De Phillippi was credited with sixth.
GT Daytona saw a breakthrough win for Wright Motorsports, as Patrick Long and Christina Nielsen turned pole into their first win of the season. Long led early, while Nielsen kept the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 near the front of the GTD field in her time behind the wheel before yield back to Long, who took the lead for good in the final hour.
The championship-leading Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 came home to finish second, with Bryan Sellers following Long home to the checkered flag - he and Madison Snow also lengthened their championship lead over Katherine Legge, who finished sixth with co-driver Alvaro Parente in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.
Scuderia Corsa rounded out the podium in the No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3, as driver Alessandro Pier Guidi outdueled Markus Palttala (No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 for Turner Motorsport) and Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports) to take the final spot on the podium.
Palttala and Bleekemolen finished fourth and fifth respectively.
Full results can be found here. The next event for the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the GT-only Michelin GT Challenge at VIR on August 19.