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Hawksworth, Barnicoat Take First GTD PRO Win Together in No. 14 Lexus
Ward, Ellis Seal the Deal for No. 57 Mercedes Team in GTD

 
August 7, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service

 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Weather conditions varied throughout the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America. But the GTD PRO class of the two-hour, 40-minute race Sunday featured one constant – domination by the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 driven by Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat.

 
The pair of British drivers teamed up to lead 51 of the 62 laps completed of the classic 4.048-mile Wisconsin road course to claim their first victory together of the 2022 season. They won by 0.760 second over GTD PRO championship leaders Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R, with Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor taking third place in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R.

 
Hawksworth earned the Motul Pole Award Saturday at a track where the Lexus has traditionally excelled. He led the opening stint of the race, handing off to Barnicoat after 40 minutes when the first of four full course cautions flew.

 
Switching to Michelin rain tires from slicks, Barnicoat briefly lost the lead to Jaminet in the Pfaff Porsche. But the shower was brief, requiring a switch back to dry tires at the next round of yellow flag pit stops. 

 
Barnicoat took the lead soon after the subsequent restart, with one hour and eight minutes remaining in the timed race. Jaminet was able to keep the Lexus within a second, but never seriously challenged as Barnicoat scored his second career IMSA win, and his first in GTD PRO.

 
Hawksworth now owns eight career WeatherTech Championship race wins.

 
“That was definitely I’d say the toughest race I’ve ever done,” said Barnicoat. “I’d never really done a lot of driving in this car in the wet before, and I made a mistake and the No. 9 got past me. I was really determined not to let that get that better of us.

 
“The fuel number I had to hit for the strategy was just crazy,” he added. “We knew it was going to be an extreme challenge, and to keep him behind while doing that was the toughest thing I’ve ever done. The yellow at the end fell for us and I was able to hold him off.”

 
Jaminet said he was disappointed to see the caution fly with less than 10 minutes remaining, but he admitted that he was unlikely to be able to pass Barnicoat unless the Lexus ran into a problem.

 
“It seemed like they found the right switch at the end to get some extra top speed they didn’t have at the beginning,” Jaminet commented. “We’ve been sometimes lucky this year and today was maybe a bit against us.

 
“All in all, it was a good race, and P2 is quite good for our championship with only two rounds to go.”

 
With the Road America victory, Barnicoat, who ranks second in the GTD PRO standings to Campbell and Jaminet, closed the gap slightly. But the Porsche duo still hold a comfortable 227-point cushion as the season winds down.
Ward, Ellis Seal the Deal for No. 57 Mercedes Team in GTD

 
Russell Ward and Philip Ellis played the stealth game to nab the GTD class victory at Road America in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT3.

 
Ward ran the first 40 minutes of the two-hour, 40-minute WeatherTech Championship clash before handing the car off to Ellis. But the team elected to keep Ellis on slick tires at a time when the track was damp and most of his competitors were on Michelin rain tires.

 
Ellis completed a treacherous stint without making an unplanned pit stop to change tires, assisted by a timely full course caution.

 
“That’s when it started to turn for us,” Ward remarked. “We still had to overtake a couple cars and jump guys in pit lane, so it wasn’t an easy battle. The strategy was good, and the pit stops were great.”

 
Ellis took the lead on the 46th of the 60 laps the GTD class completed and was comfortably in front when a late accident caused the race to end under yellow.

 
Robert Megennis and Jeff Westphal finished second in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, while Frankie Montecalvo and Aaron Telitz capped a great day for Lexus by taking the final podium finish in the No. 12 RC F GT3.

 
“We were still on slicks when everybody else was on rain tires and immediately fell to the back of the field,” said Ellis. “I just tried to stay alive on slicks, so we didn’t have to make an extra pit stop. Then we gambled for the second full course yellow, and that kind of saved us at the end.”

 
“Philip was the star,” added Ward. “This has been coming, and it feels good.”

 
Albuquerque’s Risk Rewarded En Route to Road America Win for No. 10 Acura
Dalziel Delivers Decisively for LMP2 Win in No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA
Robinson and Fraga Rock in LMP3

 
August 7, 2022
By Jeff Olson & Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service

 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Filipe Albuquerque saw an opening and went for it. His reward for the risk was victory Sunday and a renewed shot at the championship.
 
Albuquerque took the lead of the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America with help from a lapped car with 24 minutes left in the two-hour, 40-minute race, then held the lead to the finish. 
 
The victory pushed Albuquerque and co-driver Ricky Taylor into the lead for the championship in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class and turned the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans into a race for the title between two Acura teams.
 
“It feels good, but it never lasts long,” Taylor said. “What we’ve learned this year is if you have the points lead, you’re not safe. Every time we get it, it goes the other way again. It’s flip-flopped I don’t know how many times.”
 
It flip-flopped again when Albuquerque used traffic to pass Oliver Jarvis, who had been leading the race and the DPi standings to that point. Albuquerque pitched the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 around a Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) car driven by Ryan Eversley and past the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 that Jarvis co-drives with Tom Blomqvist.  
 
“I timed it perfectly and took a lot of risks going to the left with half the car on the grass,” Albuquerque said. “Then it was done. It was chaotic.”
 
With six-and-a-half minutes left, Jarvis crashed on the exit of Turn 10. He kept the car moving during the ensuing caution period, finishing fourth but losing the points lead to the No. 10 car, which will take a 19-point lead into Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 1.
 
Taylor found himself in a tricky situation during his first stint, as rain began to fall while he was on slicks. He managed to get the car back to the pits by Lap 30, but the lead was gone, and he had fallen back to eighth overall.
 
“I was just trying to survive,” Taylor said. “Honestly, I didn’t know if I was doing a very good job. I just saw that the guys on wets were gone. They asked what we wanted to do on the next stop and I said, ‘Put Filipe in.’”
 
Albuquerque began picking off one car after another, reaching fourth place by Lap 36, then second by Lap 47.
 
“We had more to lose,” Albuquerque said. “We had to stay ahead of the Shank car, and they were on rain tires and about a minute ahead of us. I was so desperate and angry about the situation because I could see us not winning it. Then it came around to us and we were back in the game.”
 
After Jarvis’ crash, the field stayed under caution to the finish, and Wayne Taylor Racing had its first victory at Road America and fourth win of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season. 
 
Earl Bamber finished second in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R he shares with Alex Lynn, while the No. 01 Cadillac Racing sister car co-driven by Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande finished third.   
 
But the victory by the No. 10 Acura – and the return to the lead of the championship – was all about Albuquerque.
 
“If you give him the car in position, he’s going to go win it, and he did,” Taylor said. “We’re getting spoiled by Filipe, honestly. We don’t have to get out of pit lane first anymore, he just does it on the racetrack. We need to keep ourselves realistic. He’s not a normal driver, (but) that’s not always going to happen. He’s just been working some serious magic this year.”
 
The magic will be called upon again at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the final race for the DPi class before it is replaced by the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class at the Rolex 24 in January.
Dalziel Delivers Decisively for LMP2 Win in No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA
 
Ryan Dalziel has developed quite the love affair for Road America. The Scotsman pulled off the decisive pass for the lead with 11 minutes left in Sunday’s race and went on to claim the Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) win with co-driver Dwight Merriman in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA LMP2 07.

 
It gave the duo their second straight LMP2 win at the Wisconsin circuit, the 13th IMSA career top-tier series victory for Dalziel and the third for Merriman.

 
“Since I kind of moved to the States back in 2003, this has always been one of those tracks that always seemed to have clicked with me,” Dalziel said.

 
Dalziel hounded LMP2 leader Louis Deletraz in the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA after a race restart from full-course caution with 36 minutes to go. Both were in fuel-save mode but Dalziel still found his chance to overtake Deletraz in the Canada Corner section of the 4.048-mile track. Two laps later, another yellow flag waved when the No. 60 Acura made contact with the wall in Turn 11 and the race ended under caution.

 
“We were trying to save fuel and it seemed like we were able to save a little easier than (Deletraz) was,” Dalziel explained. “The team were somewhat telling me to hang tight and try to pass him in the pits, but I just saw an opportunity and it happened.

 
“He had a bad run out of the Carousel and I had a pretty good run on him. He chose the middle and I chose the right, then he moved a little bit and then I moved him.”

 
With all cars starting the race on dry-condition tires but rain making an early appearance, conditions became quickly dicey. But Merriman held strong in the opening stint, moving up three positions to second before making a pit stop and turning the car over to Dalziel 40 minutes into the race.

 
“It was a little tricky,” Merriman said. “We were on slick tires and trying to get a feel for it. Managed to get up to P2 by the end of the stint, which was great. I tried not to make any mistakes and find some pace.”

 
Deletraz dominated the middle of the race, leading 37 laps until Dalziel pulled off the late pass for the win. By finishing second, the No. 8 and co-driver John Farano retained the LMP2 points lead, though it was trimmed to 33 points over Dalziel, Merriman and the No. 18 with only the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta remaining.
Robinson and Fraga Rock in LMP3
 
It looked routine for Felipe Fraga and Gar Robinson. It most certainly was not.
 
Fraga and Robinson held it together through changing weather conditions to win the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class, the first at the 14-turn, 4,048-mile circuit and the third at the track for Riley Motorsports. 
 
“That was more stressful than the (Rolex 24),” Robinson said. “Ever since I’ve come up here, you test and you’re fast in qualifying, and then it rains. And if you’re not fast, the weather will be perfect. Or it’ll be perfect, and you’ll be fast, and some crazy yellow will come out. This is one of hardest races I’ve ever tried to win.”
 
Fraga’s stint in the rain put the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier JS P320 in the lead, and he kept it there for the team’s third win of the season.
 
“It wasn’t smooth, but the team always called the right strategy,” Fraga said. “The car was perfect – very good to drive in the rain and very good to drive in the dry. I just brought it home. It wasn’t easy. It was tense.”
 
The No. 13 AWA co-driven by Orey Fidani and Matthew Bell finished second, with the No. 54 CORE Autosport co-driven by Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in third.
GTD points leader Steven McAleer finished eighth in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes, immediately behind his closest pursuers, Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche. McAleer has a 36-point advantage with two races remaining in the 2022 campaign; three other teams remain within 100 points.

 
IMSA’s GTD PRO and GTD classes headline the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway, August 26-28. The 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship wraps up with the Motul Petit Le Mans, Sept. 28-Oct. 1 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. 
Unofficial Results, Points & Post-Race Nuggets | WeatherTech Championship
IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend
Road America - Sunday, August 7, 2022

 
Additional results are available at results.imsa.com.

Post-Race Nuggets


 

DPi

No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing

  • 49th career win

  • First win at Road America

  • Fourth win of 2022

  • Took the Championship lead +19 over #60

 

Filipe Albuquerque

  • 12th career win

  • First win at Road America

  • Fourth win of 2022

 

Ricky Taylor

  • 31st career win

  • Second Road America win

  • Fourth win of 2022

 


 

GTD PRO

No. 14 Vasser Sullivan

  • Ninth career win

  • Second win at Road America

  • First GTD PRO win of 2022

 

Jack Hawksworth

  • Eighth career win

  • First win at Road America

  • First win of 2022

 

Ben Barnicoat

  • Second career win (GTD Belle Isle 2022)

  • First GTD PRO win

  • First win at Road America

  • Second win of 2022, first in GTD PRO


 

  

LMP2

No. 18 Era Motorsports

  • Third career win

  • Second Road America win

  • First win of 2022

 

Ryan Dalziel

  • 13th career win

  • Second win at Road America

  • First win of 2022

 

Dwight Merriman

  • Third career win

  • Second Road America win

  • First win of 2022

 


 

GTD

No. 57 Winward Racing

  • Second career win

  • First win at Road America

  • First win of 2022

 

Russell Ward

  • Second career win

  • First win at Road America

  • First win of 2022

 

Philp Ellis

  • Second career win

  • First win at Road America

  • First win of 2022


 

 

LMP3

No. 74 Riley Motorsports

  • 22nd career win

  • Third win at Road America

  • Second win of 2022

 

Felipe Fraga

  • Seventh career win

  • First win at Road America

  • Third win of 2022

 

Gar Robinson

  • Eighth career win

  • First win at Road America

  • Third win of 2022

 

Koch Muscles Murillo Mercedes to Michelin Pilot Challenge Win
Late Pass Delivers Third GS Victory of Season for No. 56;
No. 5 Alfa Romeo Wins in TCR

 
August 6, 2022
By John Oreovicz & Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service

 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The Road America 240 got off to a rough start but featured a frenetic finish, with Eric Foss and Kenton Koch muscling their way to the overall and Grand Sport (GS) class win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race.

 
Driving the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4, Koch forced his way past Alec Udell in the No. 66 Kelly Moss Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport at Turn 8 of Road America’s 14 corners with five minutes remaining in the four-hour contest. Koch pulled away to claim the victory by 0.896 seconds over Gregory Liefooghe in the No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4. Udell finished in third place.

 
It was the third win this season for the No. 56 Mercedes, with Koch and Foss sharing the car in two of the victories. Foss now has 10 career Michelin Pilot Challenge wins and Koch, subbing for the injured Jeff Mosing, has four. Mosing is expected to return for the final two races of the season.

 
“I thought, ‘Man, this is the last race, at least for me, so we’ve got to finish the best we can,’” said Koch, who started the race on the outside of the front row alongside 16-year-old pole winner Luca Mars in the No. 60 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4. “I feel there was multiple (potential winners) from everyone the whole time, and I just happened to be at the right place at the end to make it happen.

 
“I didn’t think we could win until the last lap,” he added. “We were struggling a bit with tire degradation, but I pushed my way through traffic to get some track position. Once I got the No. 43 behind me, they were all battling amongst themselves.”

 
Sean Quinlan qualified 16th in the No. 43, but well-timed pit stops well during the four full-course cautions that punctuated the first half of the race moved the BMW into contention.

 
Liefooghe felt there would have been a different outcome without the final caution of the race, which came with just under 35 minutes remaining. That yellow, which was extended when the No. 21 Riley Motorsports Mercedes suffered a lost wheel and spun while running at reduced speed, eliminated Udell’s concerns about fuel mileage.

 
“I feel like we had the strategy to probably win the race until the full-course caution came out because we knew (the No. 66 Porsche) were on much older tires,” Liefooghe said. “We knew we could get him, but we also knew we had guys behind us on newer tires that had a lot of pace, and they got the win.”

 
GS class championship leaders Alan Brynjolfsson and Trend Hindman finished fourth in the No. 7 Volt racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 and maintain an unofficial 220-point cushion over Foss and the No. 56 Mercedes.

 
Late Energy Surge Leads No. 5 Alfa Romeo to TCR Win
Near the end of the four-hour race, Tim Lewis didn’t think he had the energy to hold his position, much less go for the win in the Touring Car (TCR) class. Turns out he did.
 
Benefitting from fresher tires taken on during a pit stop under a late full-course caution, Lewis passed four cars in the last four laps, including the leader on the final lap, and went on to claim the TCR win in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR he co-drove with Roy Block.
 
Considering how exhausted Lewis was, the sudden surge of energy took him – and his opponents – by surprise. While idling under caution before the restart with 10 minutes left, Lewis sat in fifth place but wasn’t sure if he could fight to hang on. 
 
“I was very tired in the car,” Lewis said. “I wasn’t sure I had the energy to fight for 12 more minutes. Once we got going, the tires were hooked up and the car was hooked up. I could tell we had pace in comparison to the other guys.”  
 
Lewis overtook two cars on the penultimate lap to move into second place, then set his sights on race leader Stephen Simpson in the No. 54 Michael Johnson Racing with Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Lewis made a clean pass heading into Turn 5 and drove away to win by 1.594 seconds.
 
“I went for it, and it stuck,” Lewis said after he and Block collected their third win of the season. It’s the fifth career Michelin Pilot Challenge victory for Lewis and seventh for Block.
 
The victory also helped Lewis and Block gain ground on reigning class champions and 2022 points leaders Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler, who finished third Saturday in the No. 1 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Tim Lewis and Block closed within 30 points of Michael Lewis and Hagler with two races remaining.
 
“We just need to focus on the next race and our next test,” Block said. “Just work on our craft and put ourselves in position to succeed.”
 
The Michelin Pilot Challenge season resumes Aug. 27 with the Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway.
Albuquerque Calls Own Pole-Winning DPi Lap at Road America
Thomas Takes Qualifying Honors in LMP2, Jakobsen in LMP3

 
August 6, 2022
By Jeff Olson and Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Filipe Albuquerque had so much confidence about his fastest lap, he called it as the pole winner in real time. 
 
Albuquerque won the Motul Pole Award on Saturday for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America, gaining five precious points on the championship leaders in the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class heading into the penultimate race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.
 
Albuquerque was clocked at 1 minute, 48.915 seconds (133.799 mph) in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05, allowing him and co-driver Ricky Taylor to gain on championship leaders Oliver Jarvis and Tom Blomqvist, who qualified third fastest in the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-05.
 
The pole let Albuquerque and Taylor trim the lead shared by Blomqvist and Jarvis to 51 points with just two races – Sunday and the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 1 – remaining on the DPi schedule.
 
Immediately after crossing the timing line on his fifth lap of the session, Albuquerque told his crew it was enough to win the pole. 
 
“I said, ‘This has got to be pole position because it just felt great,’” Albuquerque said. “Then I just shut up. On the in-lap, I said, ‘I don’t know if it’s going to hold up for P1 or not, but this was a great car.’ It was just a beautiful car.” 
 
When Sebastien Bourdais slid off course in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R with seconds left in the session, Albuquerque shook his fist in celebration while sitting in the pits.
 
Knowing rain is in the forecast Sunday played into his emotions about starting ahead of the field.
 
“It should be a rainy race,” Albuquerque said. “Starting from pole will help you through the first few corners with the spray and less incidents. It’s a bunch of things together. The tension and nervousness was there. I needed to execute when it counted.”
 
Alex Lynn had the second-fastest lap in DPi – 1:49.097 (133.576 mph) in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing Cadillac he shares with Earl Bamber. Blomqvist secured the third starting position with a lap of 1:49.841 (132.671 mph) in the No. 60 MSR Acura.
 
Sunday’s race starts at 11:40 a.m. ET. Peacock and IMSA Radio will have live flag-to-flag coverage, and USA Network will join at noon.
Thomas Wins PR1 Mathiasen Shootout for LMP2 Pole
 
PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports put a stranglehold on Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) qualifying, with Steven Thomas and Patrick Kelly swapping the top spot throughout the session. In the end, it was Thomas in the No. 11 ORECA LMP2 07 taking the Motul Pole Award by 0.134 seconds over Kelly in the team’s No. 52 ORECA.

 
Thomas earned his fourth pole position in his second season of WeatherTech Championship competition. His best lap of 1:54.137 (127.677 mph) came with just under five minutes to go in the 15-minute session and held up. He admitted he wasn’t sure how he’d fare when qualifying started.

 
“We thought we had a good race car but we made quite a bit of changes from (Friday practice) to qualifying, so we didn’t know we had a good race car,” the 55-year-old from Missouri said. “When I was able to sail it through Turn 1, I thought, ‘We’ve got a good race car,’ so kudos to our engineer Tim Lewis and (team principal) Bobby Oergel, who’s also involved in all that stuff. They did a great job.”

 
Thomas credited co-driver Tristan Nunez with aiding the performance. The duo shared the No. 11 last year, winning the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Jonathan Bomarito was Thomas’ teammate this year until stepping aside this weekend to allow Nunez to return. Nunez and Thomas watched video Friday night that helped Thomas improve his line through the Carousel.

 
“We’re very comfortable with each other,” Thomas said of Nunez, “and he knows the things to say to me to get me to do what I can do in a race car. It’s just great to have him around. I love JB (Bomarito) and gracious of them to work out what they did, but I love Tristan, too. It’s great to have him here.”

 
Dwight Merriman qualified third in the No. 18 Era Motorsport ORECA at 1:54.677. Merriman and co-driver Ryan Dalziel are the defending race winners. All six LMP2s qualified within 0.696 seconds of each other.
Jakobsen Claims Pole in LMP3 
 
Malthe Jakobsen has plenty of rain experience – just not much in a Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) car.
 
The 19-year-old Danish driver won the Motul Pole Award for the class Saturday with an LMP3 track-record lap of 1:59.434 (122.015 mph) in the No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Ligier JS P320 he co-drives with veteran Joao Barbosa.
 
“Joao is such a good teammate because he has so much experience,” Jakobsen said. “We push each other and learn from each other. Especially at the beginning of the year, at Daytona and Sebring, he helped me with managing all the traffic and competing in multiclass racing. He has so much experience from the faster categories. He can explain what happens when they get around you.”
 
Jarett Andretti had the second-fastest lap in LMP3 – 2:00.163 (121.274 mph) in the No. 36 Andretti Autosport Ligier he co-drives with Gabby Chaves. Gar Robinson secured P3 in the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier he shares with Felipe Fraga.
 
Jakobsen, Barbosa and their Sean Creech Motorsport teammates have been discussing the possibility of rain in the race.
 
“It’s going to be tricky,” Jakobsen said. “I have some rain experience in the P3, but not much. But from racing Formula Fords in Denmark and Scandinavia, I do. It rains every second day there.”
Hawksworth Flies Away with GTD PRO Pole at Road America
Foley’s BMW Nets Motul Pole Award in GTD

 
August 6, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service

 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat arrived at Road America believing their Lexus RC F GT3 would excel on the fast, sweeping corners of the iconic Wisconsin road course.

 
Their confidence was well-placed. Hawksworth earned the Motul Pole Award for the GTD PRO class in qualifying Saturday for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend. The 31-year-old Englishman hustled the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus around the 4.048-mile circuit in 2 minutes, 5.365 seconds (116.242 mph).

 
It was the sixth career IMSA pole for Hawksworth. Six of his seven career race wins in the WeatherTech Championship have come in Lexus entries fielded by Vasser Sullivan.

 
He cited tire management as the key to his latest pole, as well as an important factor for Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race.

 
“The car has been working really well and it’s been a great weekend so far,” Hawksworth said. “The Michelin tires last for a full stint, but when you want that magic kind of lap time, you have to push when the tire is ‘in.’

 
“We used the first lap to build the tire temperature, and then obviously went for it on the second lap. It turned out to be the right strategy.”

 
Matt Campbell (No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R) came closest to toppling Hawksworth, but the Australian spun exiting the final corner while trying to complete a lap that live timing predicted could have been fast enough for pole.

 
Campbell’s best lap of 2:05.829 (116.008 mph) was good for the outside of the front row in the GTD PRO-leading car he shares with Mathieu Jaminet. Antonio Garcia (No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD) rounded out the top three at 2:05.828/115.814 mph.
Foley Puts No. 96 BMW at Front in GTD

 
Robby Foley prevented Vasser Sullivan from completing a GT qualifying sweep by putting the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 on the GT Daytona (GTD) pole, 0.140 seconds ahead of Frankie Montecalvo in the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.

 
Foley, teamed with IMSA’s all-time career race winner Bill Auberlen in the No. 96, turned a lap of 2:06.084 (115.579 mph) for his third career pole. Robert Megennis qualified third after running 2:06.237 (115.439 mph) in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.

 
Foley was pleased with the performance of the BMW M4, in its first year of homologation with the WeatherTech Championship. He said getting a perfect run through Canada Corner, the 12th of Road America’s 14 turns, was key to his fast lap.

 
“Of course, it’s great to get pole,” Foley commented. “It just shows how hard these guys work to get our brand-new car well-developed and I’m loving it around Road America.”

 
Keeping an Eye on the Sky

 
An area of concern for Auberlen and Foley is their lack of experience racing the M4 in wet conditions. There is a strong probability of rain for Sunday’s race.

 
“Normally I would love it, but we really haven’t driven this car too much in the rain,” Foley said. “We don’t know the recipe quite yet, but you’ve got to learn sometime, right?”

 
The prospect of rain doesn’t faze Hawksworth.

 
“Racing in the wet is always a bit of a lottery, but we’ve got two Brits in the car,” he joked. “So, I think we’ll be all right in the wet, and we’ll give it a good go.”

 
The green flag is scheduled to wave for the race at 11:40 a.m. ET Sunday. Flag-to-flag coverage is available on Peacock and IMSA Radio. Live Television coverage begins at noon on USA Network.
Speedy Spinelli Leads Taurino Racing to Lamborghini Super Trofeo Win
Teaming with Giano Taurino, They Claim Their First Pro Class Win

 
August 6, 2022
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Regarded as one of the best Lamborghini Super Trofeo drivers in the world, Loris Spinelli showed why Saturday in the first race of the North American series’ weekend at Road America.

 
Spinelli rocketed from mid-pack at the start of the 50-minute race interrupted by a pair of full-course cautions and turned the No. 88 Taurino Racing by D Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2 over to co-driver Giano Taurino on the mandatory pit stop.

 
Taurino exited the pits in the lead and held the spot from that point onward as the race finished under the second yellow. It marked the first Pro class win for Taurino, who totaled four Am class wins in his rookie season last year. It’s the 10th North American Super Trofeo victory for Spinelli, with the first nine coming in the ProAm class where he captured the 2018 championship. Spinelli is also a three-time champion in the European version of the series.

 
Spinelli started 14th overall Saturday but moved up to seventh by the time the first caution came out on Lap 2 for a stalled car and fluids around the 4.048-mile road course. Following a lengthy period to clean the track, only 20 minutes remained when racing restarted. Spinelli stayed on track as long as possible, turning lightning-fast laps on a clear track as the other Pro competitors made their pit stops.

 
“I’m so happy the car was so strong,” Spinelli said. “I pushed the two laps when I saw all the other guys come in. I tried to push and do what I need to do to close the gap with the leader. And we did it. I’m so happy for the strategy and thanks to the team.”
Spinelli made his stop with 13 minutes remaining and Taurino came out in front, holding off Edoardo Piscopo in the No. 50 O’Gara Motorsport/Change Racing/US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills Huracán and Kyle Marcelli in the No. 1 Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus Huracán until the second caution flag flew with seven minutes to go for a car stuck in the Turn 14 gravel. The No. 50 was penalized post-race for a short pit stop, moving the No. 1 to second place in the final standings.

 
“It was a lot of fun,” an elated Taurino said in victory lane. “You have to hate the yellow flags, but in the end, they helped us big time. I didn’t think this was going to happen so I don’t know how to really feel about winning for the first time this year. But I’m sure there’s more to come.”

 
In the ProAm class, Bryson Lew and John Dubets collected their third win of the season in the No. 46 Precision Performance Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán. Unlike the Pro winners, Lew was among the first to pit, with Dubets taking over and charging to the class win.

 
“Bryson put us exactly where we needed to be today,” Dubets said. “There was a lot of yellow out there, so once I got in, we needed to move forward. Our eyes were on P1 and once we got that done, we just kind of set cruise control, so to speak, and waited to see if the race would come back to us. Unfortunately, it ended under yellow.”

 
David Staab and Nikko Reger, co-drivers of the No. 48 Precision Performance Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán, also secured their third win of the season, in the Am class. It helped them extend their points lead.

 
“We still got quite dicey in the five, six laps we had,” said Reger, who drove the closing stint. “David put in a monster start and got us up to third. I hopped in the car and knew I probably didn’t have a ton of time left, so just got to work. The two guys in front of us got to a little rubbin’, we’ll say, (I) caught up to them and eventually snagged it. Having some fun in the sun.”

 
LB Cup saw Charlie Martin and Jason Gagne-Keats celebrate their first series win in the No. 54 Dream Racing Motorsport, Lamborghini San Francisco Huracán. Martin avoided issues some of the other LB Cup drivers had in the busy 31-car field and grabbed the class lead before pitting to hand the car to Gagne-Keats. Both drivers were all smiles after collecting the milestone maiden win.

 
“Starting in sixth (in class), I knew we had a battle ahead of us,” Martin said, “but you never know what’s going to happen in the race. It all worked out for us. I pushed hard when the green flag came back on and Jason did a good job holding our position. It’s really, really cool.”

 
Gagne-Keats was even more emphatic about the victory.

 
“It feels fantastic!” he said. “We had a technicality at Watkins Glen that kept us off the top of the podium, so we’ll take it today.”

 
Race 2 starts at 2:55 p.m. ET Sunday. Live coverage is available on Peacock, IMSA.com/TVLive and IMSA Radio.
Qualifying Results | WeatherTech Championship
IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend
Road America - Saturday, August 6, 2022

 

 

 

 

 

Practice Results | WeatherTech Championship

IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend
Road America - Friday, August 5, 2022

 
Additional results are available at results.imsa.com.
 

McMurry ‘Cuts Out the Middleman’ in Acura GTP Development

As Both a Racer and an Engineer, the Two-Time WeatherTech Championship Titlist Has Been a Key Component in the Project


 

August 19, 2022

By Mark Robinson

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Images of Acura’s entry for the new top-tier IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship class were released earlier this week. The LMDh car’s official public unveil is set for tonight in Monterey, California.


 

The build-up to this point has featured the tireless efforts of countless people at Honda Performance Development (HPD), not the least of whom is a familiar name in IMSA circles. Matt McMurry is a two-time WeatherTech Championship driver champion. He’s also a vehicle dynamics engineer at HPD. The 24-year-old has combined those talents to play an integral role in development of the Acura ARX-06 that will take on fierce competition from several other manufacturers when one of the most anticipated eras in IMSA history begins in January with the introduction of the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class at the Rolex 24 At Daytona.


 

“It really has been a dream come true to be able to help design a pinnacle-level race car like this, let alone drive it, too,” McMurry says. “Working on this project has been awesome, better than I ever imagined.”


 

McMurry’s background made him the ideal candidate to be in on the ground floor of the Acura/HPD effort to develop the ARX-06. Eight years ago, at age 16, he became the youngest driver to start the 24 Hours of Le Mans in the fabled race’s history – a standard maintained until a slightly younger American, Josh Pierson, eclipsed it this year.

 

McMurry collected back-to-back WeatherTech Championship titles in 2019 (Le Mans Prototype 2 class) and 2020 (GT Daytona), winning a total of eight races in those seasons. Along the way, he also earned an aerospace engineering degree from the University of California-Irvine and landed an internship at HPD that led to his current vehicle dynamics engineering position.


 

Currently without a fulltime WeatherTech Championship ride, McMurry has been able to immerse himself in the Acura ARX-06 project. He estimates he’s spent some 125 hours on the Honda racing simulator – “or roughly five Daytona 24s!” he adds – moving the LMDh process along before it hit the track. McMurry was there as well, joining Wayne Taylor Racing driver Ricky Taylor to turn test laps at a pair of French circuits in July.


 

As both a racer and engineer, McMurry has been able to seamlessly mesh the experience in both worlds – and expedite the LMDh development process along the way.


 

“I am looking at it through the lens of how typically a driver would provide feedback to the engineer (or team of engineers) in the process, then the engineers would make changes to the car,” McMurry explains. “With you being both driver and engineer, you can sort of cut out the middleman in the process. … Less gets lost in translation from driver to engineer when they're one and the same!”


 

While undoubtedly itching to get behind the wheel of a race car in competition once more – his last WeatherTech Championship race came at Long Beach in September 2021 – McMurry derived special satisfaction from being selected to turn laps in the GTP Acura last month at the Paul Ricard and Magny Cours circuits.


 

“It was fantastic and a dream come true to be the first person to take this car on track,” he said. “It's what I've been working towards my whole career. It's an honor, and I’m grateful HPD chose me to shake down our first hybrid race car. What a great car, too; it was a blast to drive!”

 

 

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How Robert Wickens and Michael Johnson Get Around the Racetrack

 

The Hand Control System Is Ever Evolving for the Michelin Pilot Challenge Racers


 

August 18, 2022

By Jeff Olson

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It started as a simple concept, but its implementation wasn’t simple. It was complicated, is constantly evolving, and – credit where it’s due – simply ingenious.

 

When it became clear that Michael Johnson and Robert Wickens would both be driving a Hyundai Elantra N TCR in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge for the 2022 season, engineers at Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian had to devise a hand control system that would fit the car, the drivers and the specifications.

 

What they developed – and continue to fine-tune – is winning races and turning heads.

 

“It’s the best system I’ve used to date,” said Johnson, who has been racing with hand controls since 2007.

 

Johnson and Wickens are paralyzed from the waist down. Their co-drivers, Stephen Simpson and Mark Wilkins, share Elantras equipped with standard brake and throttle foot controls that convert to hand controls on the steering wheel when Johnson and Wickens drive.

 

“The concept is simple – you’re using your hands instead of your feet – but that’s where the simplicity stops,” said David Brown, BHA’s technical director, who devised the system with BHA development technician Jonathan Gormley. “It still has to be driven by somebody using their feet as well. You have the underlying brake, throttle and clutch systems all on the floor in the car, but then you have a duplicate set of controls for someone who can’t use their feet.”

 

The solution is a ring on the steering wheel that drivers pull toward themselves to brake, along with paddles to control the throttle. When Simpson and Wilkins are in the car, the brake and throttle hand controls revert back to foot controls.

 

Wickens explained how the system works in this video:

Wickens, who returned to racing this year after a crash in an IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in 2018, won at Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park with the system and stands third in driver points in the series’ Touring Car (TCR) class in the No. 33 BHA Elantra he co-drives with Wilkins.

 

Johnson, who was injured in an accident during a motorcycle race when he was 12 years old, has been using similar systems since he returned to racing in 2007 in a go-kart with hand controls developed by Alex Zanardi, who lost both legs in a 2001 IndyCar crash.


 

Johnson had been using a similar system in a BHA Hyundai Veloster N TCR he drove in 2021, but the Elantra hand control system is slightly different, mostly by way of throttle paddles and the feel of the brake ring.

The system’s superiority shows in the results. Johnson and Simpson are fifth in TCR driver standings following runner-up finishes at Lime Rock Park and Road America in the No. 54 Michael Johnson Racing with BHA Elantra.

 

“The way I get feedback from it is a lot better, especially with the improved brake ring and the throttle paddles we have instead of the big ring I had on the front of the steering wheel in previous years,” Johnson said. “I like this system way better. I don’t want to say it’s easier, but it’s a much better user experience.”


 

As they prepare for the Virginia Is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix on Aug. 27 at VIRginia International Raceway, Johnson and Wickens are working with Brown and Gormley to find the sweet spot on the brakes. 

 

“At some tracks we don’t need a ton of brake pressure, but other tracks we do,” Johnson said. “That’s something we’re always trying to play around with. There’s so much adjustability that you can sometimes get lost. That comes down to the feedback I get when I’m on track. That part can always be improved, so that’s what we’ve been working on. That’s always something that will be a work in progress.”

 

Brown agrees. The device isn’t complete. Rather, it’s constantly being upgraded and tweaked, a never-ending experiment in racing with hand controls. 

 

“We sort of came up with it as we went along,” Brown said. “We tackled the problems and came up with solutions, experimented with it a bit and asked whether we liked it and what we could improve.”

 

It is, in a word, groundbreaking.

 

Entry List Notebook – Michelin GT Challenge at VIR

Grand Touring Classes Headline IMSA Program at VIRginia International Raceway


 

August 17, 2022

By Mark Robinson

IMSA Wire Service

Entry List (Click Here)

 

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The Michelin GT Challenge at VIR returns to its traditional late August date on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule following last year’s race in October. The Aug. 26-28 event still serves as the penultimate weekend on the calendar and as the second GT-only race of the season.


 

Eighteen cars are on the pre-event entry list, five in the Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) class and 13 in Grand Touring Daytona (GTD). The race airs live on CNBC starting at 2 p.m. ET Sunday, Aug. 28. Here’s other important information you need for the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR:


 

Fast Facts

VIRginia International Raceway – Alton, Virginia

August 28, 2022

Race Day/Time: Sunday, August 28 – 2: 10 p.m. ET

CNBC Coverage: LIVE – Flag-to-flag beginning at 2 p.m.

Peacock Streaming Coverage: LIVE – Flag-to-flag beginning at 2 p.m. (available outside the U.S. on IMSA.com/TVLive starting at 2:05 p.m.)

IMSA.com/TVLive Live Qualifying Stream: Saturday, August 27 – 3:10 p.m.

IMSA Radio: Select sessions live on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com; SiriusXM live race coverage begins at 2 p.m. Sunday, August 28 (XM 207, Web/App 992)

Circuit Type: 3.27-mile, 17-turn road course

Race Length: Two hours, 40 minutes

Classes Competing: Grand Touring Daytona Pro (GTD PRO), Grand Touring Daytona (GTD)

Track Social Media: 

·        Twitter: @virnow

·        Instagram: @virnow

·        Facebook: @virnow

Event Hashtags: #IMSA, #MichelinVIR


 

WeatherTech Championship Track Records

Qualifying:

GTD PRO: new class in 2022

GTD: Ross Gunn, Aston Martin Vantage GT3, 1:43.356 / 113.897 mph, October 2021

 

2021 Michelin GT Challenge at VIR Winners:

GTD PRO: new class in 2022

GTD: Zacharie Robichon/Laurens Vanthoor, No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R


 

Storylines

  • GT Classes Take Center Stage: The Grand Touring classes of the WeatherTech Championship headline the race weekend at VIR. It’s the last of two races this season (the other came at Lime Rock Park in July) to feature only the GTD PRO and GTD classes.
  • Penultimate Race: The VIR event serves as the next-to-last race on the schedule for GTD PRO and GTD. Only the Motul Petit Le Mans on Oct. 1 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta remains.
  • GTD Points Battle Rages on: While the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, along with drivers Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, has built a commanding championship lead in GTD PRO, the GTD championship remains wide open. The No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 and driver Stevan McAleer are at the head of the class, but four other teams – the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R and drivers Ryan Hardwick and Jan Heylen, the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 and driver Roman De Angelis, the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 and drivers Robert Megennis and Jeff Westphal and the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3 with drivers Robby Foley and Bill Auberlen – all lurk within 125 points of the leader. With 13 GTD cars entered at VIR, huge swings are still possible.
  • Sprint Cup Finale: The IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup – a separate GTD championship comprised of the eight non-endurance races – is another matter. Madison Snow, Bryan Sellers and the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 need only to start the VIR race to secure the Sprint Cup title. It’s quite the feat for the team that had to miss the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona waiting on delivery of the new BMW and then having to learn the car’s ins and outs over the course of the season.


 

Who’s Hot?

  • No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports: Jaminet, Campbell and the No. 9 Porsche have a string of five straight podium results (three of them wins) as they enter the race weekend. They can take another step toward locking up the GTD PRO driver, team and manufacturer crowns at VIR.
  • No. 57 Winward Racing: If it weren’t for a faulty fuel pump on the final lap of the race at Lime Rock Park, the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG GT3 would be heading to VIR on the strength of back-to-back GTD wins. As it is, drivers Philip Ellis, Russell Ward and the No. 57 are coming off a victory Aug. 7 at Road America.
  • No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing: Co-drivers Robert Megennis and Jeff Westphal have put together consecutive podium finishes at Lime Rock and Road America. It has moved them and the No. 39 Lamborghini into fourth in the GTD standings, just 98 points from the lead.

 

Who’s Good Here?

  • Bill Auberlen: When you have more wins at the top level of IMSA racing than any driver in history, you tend to lead the pack at a number of tracks. That’s the case with Auberlen, who has four of his 65 career triumphs at VIR – the most recent two years ago in GTD.
  • Antonio Garcia: The Spaniard has three wins since 2016 at VIR, each coming in the former GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. He and co-driver Jordan Taylor are seeking their second win of 2022 in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD in the new GTD PRO class.


 

Previous Michelin GT Challenge Winners in 2022 Field (9)

  • Bill Auberlen (4): GT – 2002, 2004, 2005; GTD – 2020
  • Antonio Garcia (3): GTLM – 2016, 2017, 2020
  • Andy Lally (2): GT – 2006, 2010
  • Jordan Taylor (2): GT – 2011; GTLM – 2020
  • Connor De Phillippi (1): GTLM – 2018
  • Robby Foley (1): GTD – 2020
  • Cooper MacNeil (1): GTC – 2012
  • Bryan Sellers (1): GTD – 2016
  • Madison Snow (1): GTD – 2016


 

Previous Michelin GT Challenge Pole Winners in 2022 Field (5)

  • Robby Foley (1): GTD – 2021
  • Jack Hawksworth (1): GTD – 2018
  • Maxime Martin (1): GTD – 2013
  • Madison Snow (1): GTD – 2016
  • Jordan Taylor (1): GT – 2010


 

Previous Michelin GT Challenge Winning Teams in 2022 Field (5)

  • Corvette Racing (5): GT – 2012; GTLM – 2016, 2017, 2020, 2021
  • Turner Motorsport (2): GTD – 2014, 2020
  • BMW M Team RLL (1): GTLM – 2018
  • Paul Miller Racing (1): GTD – 2016
  • Pfaff Motorsports (1): GTD – 2021


 

Previous Michelin GT Challenge Winning Manufacturers in 2022 Field (6)

  • Chevrolet – 9
  • Porsche – 8
  • BMW – 6
  • Lexus – 3
  • Lamborghini – 2
  • Mercedes-AMG – 1

 

 

No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Lamborghini Is Closing Fast in GTD

With Consecutive Podium Finishes, Jeff Westphal and Robert Megennis Have Quietly Moved into Championship Contention


 

August 15, 2022

By Godwin Kelly

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – You know how the side mirrors of some passenger cars come with a warning that “objects are closer than they appear?”

 

This same notice could apply to the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, which competes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s GT Daytona (GTD) class.

 

A few races ago, following a car-destroying crash at Watkins Glen International, the team’s title hopes seemed to be hauled away on the wrecker that dragged the crumpled No. 39 back to the garage area.

 

Now armed with a new car (actually an older chassis with much less wear and tear), this Lambo team is within striking range of the GTD championship.

 

Drivers Jeff Westphal and Robert Megennis have scored back-to-back podium finishes, including a last-lap pass by Westphal at Lime Rock Park that earned a third-place finish. They finished second in their last outing at Road America.

 

This short flurry of success has pushed the team to fourth place in the standings – just 98 points behind the series leader – and with two races left on the schedule, they are very much in the championship hunt.

 

Megennis credits his co-driver’s steering-wheel skills for the comeback. Westphal has become the GTD closer.

 

“Our catch phrase for the last few races has been ‘in Westphal we trust,’” Megennis said. “He always finds a way to make it happen.”

 

Westphal defers to the team, which switched from Audi to Lamborghini this season. He says it has been a team effort all the way, stretching back to the Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

 

“Literally the first wheel we turned was at the Roar Before the (Rolex) 24,” he said. “That was a complete shakedown for us, so we were behind on that, but we ended up running the car at the front of the field for a few hours.”

 

The team started slow, picked up some momentum, then watched its car get completely trashed at The Glen.

 

“Unfortunately, I was invited into a nasty wreck by two drivers who were playing bumper cars,” Westphal said of the incident.

The silver lining to this story has been the replacement car, which is much more responsive to chassis adjustments, thus increasing the speed and dropping lap times.

 

“At Lime Rock, we realized we had a car that acted to every click of compression we gave to it,” Westphal said. “We had a car that reacted to every half millimeter of ride height.”

 

“I wouldn't say the crash at Watkins Glen was a blessing in disguise, but the car we're running now seems to have an edge over the car we had at The Glen,” Megennis added.

 

With the trophy in sight, this team and drivers are gearing up for battle and looking for a victory. They hope to ride this wave of momentum to what was once an unlikely championship.

 

“The team has never changed its approach of always giving 100 percent,” Westphal said. “We have focus. Everyone is putting their heart and soul into this program. Top to bottom, front to back, everyone wants to win. That's why we're all doing this. There's a passion there.”

 

And that fire is being stoked with a hand-me-down Lamborghini looking more and more like the tree in “A Charlie Brown Christmas” that transformed from twig to showpiece.

 

“Now that we have a machine that's responding to what we're asking it to do, we're seeing a tiny bit of performance gain doing that,” Westphal said. “So that combined with a little bit of luck and strategy has given us some good results over the last few races.

 

“At the end of the day, the way I look at it, we need to leave nothing on the table. We need to leave everything we have out there on the racetrack for every race. You have no regrets if you drive that way. How the championship ends up is how the championship ends up. At least we did everything we could.”

 

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State of the Sport Sparks Increased Optimism in IMSA Paddock
Stakeholders and Drivers Are Pleased with the Direction Being Taken

 
August 10, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Racers frequently talk about how the key to success often comes down to getting the details right.

 
That’s why IMSA President John Doonan exuded a quiet confidence when he gave his annual “State of the Sport” address during the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America.

 
Doonan knows there’s plenty of buzz surrounding the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship due to the introduction of the top GTP (Grand Touring Prototype) class for 2023, which will allow prototypes built to LMDh and Hypercar specifications to compete on level terms.

 
“A lot of people have already hung the ‘golden era’ tag on GTP,” Doonan said. “But we believe if fans like what they see now in endurance sports car racing, it’s only going to get better.”

 
The hype for GTP has been building for months as Porsche, Cadillac, Acura and BMW began track testing their hybrid-powered 2023 contenders, and Lamborghini announced plans to join the field in 2024.

 
Because that major storyline has played out organically and IMSA’s future return to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway was announced the previous week, Doonan used the State of the Sport platform to unveil the 2023 WeatherTech Championship schedule and a number of enhancements to IMSA’s portfolio of competition platforms.

 
Details, if you will.

 
Viewed collectively, developments like the creation of the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge (a sprint race format for Le Mans Prototype 3 and GT4 sports cars), enhancement of the Bob Akin Bronze Cup championship, which continues to offer the top Bronze-rated GT Daytona (GTD) driver a chance to race in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and increased sustainability of fuel and tires are the important details that elevate IMSA as a premier platform for all stakeholders.
That widespread stakeholder support was clear as voices from around the sport reacted to Doonan’s address.

 
“We were excited to hear what IMSA had to present today, and we’re excited to race at great venues in 2023,” Jason Anzalone, director of motorsports for Michelin North America, said following Friday night’s presentation.

 
Michelin aims to cut tire usage by 25 percent in GTP, and it displayed a tire containing 53 percent sustainable raw materials that IMSA hopes to put on track in the future.

 
“We’re very pleased to be a partner with IMSA,” Anzalone continued. “The team works really hard to make sure that we reach consumers and people who are interested in the sport. Promoting the Michelin brand is very important to us, and we’re very happy with that.”

 
Porsche is one of IMSA’s strongest proponents, with an expected presence in GTP, GTD PRO and GTD in the WeatherTech Championship and the Grand Sport (GS) class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

 
“We love the strategy and the calendar is awesome,” remarked Volker Holzmeyer, CEO of Porsche Motorsport North America. “I think we are entering a new era, with GTP coming as the top level, and that will reshape the sports car racing landscape. That’s great to see.

 
“We also have really strong interest in the GTD class, so I think there we will see growth,” he added. “The announcement of the Bronze Cup is very good and will be highly appreciated by our customer base. I see it growing and all positive.”

 
Porsche handled the initial testing for the hybrid system that will be used by all GTP contestants as part of an unprecedented level of cooperation between IMSA, the FIA and all competing manufacturers.

 
The overall spirit of collaboration for the greater good was noted by Laura Wontrop Klauser, sports car racing program manager for General Motors, who oversees GM’s high-profile Cadillac and Corvette racing efforts.

 
“The LMDh platform has created the opportunity for all of these OEMs to sit down together regularly and work through the issues that affect all of us together,” she said. “The relationships across the board are great. It’s speeding up the development process and making all of us stronger.”

 
The excitement for IMSA’s future is shared by drivers.

 
“I think it’s really exciting going into next year with the GTP, and the unification of GT3 cars around the world is exciting for GT racing as well,” said Lexus factory driver Jack Hawksworth. “There’s maybe some tweaks you could make with GTD and GTD PRO to improve some aspects, but overall I think it’s in a pretty good spot.”

 
“I think it’s very strong,” added Robby Foley, who drives BMWs for Turner Motorsport in the WeatherTech Championship and Michelin Pilot Challenge. “There are a lot of cars in every championship, and I think IMSA does a great job of giving everybody – customers, manufacturers – a great place to race.

 
“They’re doing a great job and hopefully there’s momentum for years to come.”

 

 

 

Three Takeaways from IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend
Racing Gods Don’t Always Smile on Seemingly Deserving, Being Consistent Helps

 
August 8, 2022
By David Phillips
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Take all five classes in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, turn them loose on four of the most historic and challenging miles of racetrack in North America amid changing conditions with championship implications riding on the outcome, and what do you get? Two hours and 40 minutes of action-packed sports car racing otherwise known as the 2022 IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America.
 
What did we learn?
 
Nobody Ever Claimed Racing Is Fair
If they did, they were wrong. That maxim was proven for the zillionth time on Sunday when JDC-Miller MotorSports’ gamble of switching the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R to rain tires during an early full-course yellow paid off big time. Initially.
 
While the other five Daytona Prototype international (DPi) competitors tiptoed around a track that was alternately wet and damp on the slick tires with which they started the race, surefooted Richard Westbrook stormed into a huge lead on his grooved Michelins. Such was his pace that Westbrook was within sight of lapping the sixth-place DPi car when a full-course yellow was declared to clear a chunk of debris from the circuit.
 
Following the resulting pit stop shuffles and repositioning of the field by class, Westbrook’s three-plus-mile advantage evaporated as all six DPi cars were positioned nose-to-tail for the subsequent restart. With the JDC-Miller inspired gamble effectively nullified, Tristan Vautier spent the remainder of the race battling for position in a race he and Westbrook might well have easily won by putting a lap on the DPi field barring that full-course caution – a yellow caused when the sister (or is that cousin?) car, the No. 90 JDC-Miller Duqueine D08 Le Mans Prototype 3 entry, lost a chunk of its bodywork.
 
Racing fair? No. Ironic? Certainly.
 
Yin and Yang of Consistency
The yin and yang of consistency was much in evidence at Road America. After capturing the 2022 Rolex 24 At Daytona, Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian has experienced a “so near yet so far” season, the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 consistently in the hunt for another win but just as regularly falling just short.
 
Thus, the No. 60 arrived at Road America with a string of five consecutive runner-up finishes. The regular collection of points enabled Meyer Shank to fashion a lead in the DPi standings that was at once substantial and fragile. Substantial enough that a win in Wisconsin would have built a comfortable championship lead heading to the Motul Petit Le Mans season finale; fragile enough that a lackluster finish coupled with a win by the chief rival No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura would force a must-win position in the season finale.
 
The late stages at Road America once again found the No. 60 Acura in the lead, with Oliver Jarvis battling to stay just ahead of Filipe Albuquerque in the No. 10. Not for the first time this year, Albuquerque pulled off a forceful – but clean – pass for the lead and went on to take the win. Meanwhile, under intense pressure from Earl Bamber in the No. 02 Cadillac Racing DPi V.R, Jarvis crashed in the Kink and was fortunate indeed that the resulting full-course yellow enabled him to nurse his badly damaged car to a fourth-place finish.
 
Thus, the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura now heads to Motul Petit Le Mans with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, putting MSR in that must-win situation.
 
Speaking of Consistency …
Stevan McAleer and Mike Skeen steered the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 to an eighth-place GT Daytona (GTD) finish Sunday, keeping McAleer and the No. 32 atop the GTD driver and team standings. After opening the season with third- and-second place finishes, respectively, at the Rolex 24 and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, the Korthoff Mercedes has not scored another podium finish. On the other hand, Road America was just the second time this season that the No. 32 Mercedes finished outside the top six.
 
While some other GTD campaigners have experienced higher “highs,” they’ve also experienced more “lows.” With races at VIRginia International Raceway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta remaining on the schedule, that consistency finds McAleer and Team Korthoff 36 points clear of Ryan Hardwick, Jan Heylen and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche GT3 R, with three other teams within striking distance of the championship.

 

 

MSA Going Global with New IMSA Esports Global Championship
The Sim Racing Series in Conjunction with iRacing Will Allow the World’s Top Pro Sim Drivers and Teams to Compete

 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 5, 2022) – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) is going global. And not just when it comes to the common GTP/LMDh and GT3 rules packages shared with other sports car entities for 2023. The name of IMSA’s newest series says it all: the IMSA Esports Global Championship.
 
Although IMSA’s association with iRacing.com dates back more than a decade and includes the IMSA iRacing Pro Series and the IMSA Triple Crown Challenge, the IMSA Esports Global Championship announced today is the first IMSA-backed iRacing series dedicated to professional sim racers and sim racing teams.
 
The IMSA Esports Global Championship kicks off in October and will feature the world’s top professional sim racers and sim racing teams competing for cash purses in each event of the four-race series and for the overall series championship. Races will be broadcast on iRacing and RACESPOT YouTube, Facebook and Twitch social media channels.
 
In keeping with IMSA’s more traditional racing series, the Esports Global Championship will consist of multi-driver, multi-class racing and will feature iRacing’s meticulously modeled GT3 and TCR cars. The series will enable professional sim racers and teams to develop close working relationships with eight of the manufacturers competing in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: BMW, Ferrari, Honda, Hyundai, Lamborghini, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche.
 
“The IMSA Esports Global Championship is the next step in our esports presence after the success of the IMSA iRacing Pro Series and the IMSA Triple Crown Challenge,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “IMSA was among the first motorsports organizations to recognize the potential of working with iRacing to blend the gap between sim racing and real racing by including our manufacturing partners. We’re excited that eight manufacturers competing in IMSA this year will be participating in the IMSA Esports Global Championship, and we expect that number to increase in the coming years.”
 
The IMSA Esports Global Championship debuts at virtual Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sunday, Oct. 16. Succeeding races will take place at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (Oct. 23) and the road courses at Indianapolis Motor Speedway (Nov. 6) and Daytona International Speedway (Nov. 20). All races will start in early afternoon on Sundays in the U.S. Eastern time zone. In keeping with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship sprint races, each event will be two hours, 40 minutes long.
 
“iRacing and IMSA have enjoyed a long and productive relationship,” said Tony Gardner, president of iRacing.com. “Our partnership with IMSA has enabled more than 160,000 iRacers around the world to race virtual versions of the world’s fastest sports cars on North America’s iconic road courses. The IMSA Esports Global Championship is a natural and exciting next step in our relationship with IMSA as well as with many of the world’s leading makers of high-performance automobiles.”
 
Further details surrounding the 2022 IMSA Esports Global Championship will be announced at a later date.
IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship Finalists Named
Four of the Seven Up-and-Coming Racers Were Finalists Last Year
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (Aug. 5, 2022) – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) today announced the seven talented young racers who are finalists for the second annual IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship.
 
Two women and five men were selected from dozens of applicants to contend for the scholarship worth upwards of a quarter million dollars in value toward a full season of competition in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge or IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge next year.
 
“The Diverse Driver Development Scholarship is an important initiative for IMSA, and we’re proud to build on its initial success looking ahead to 2023,” IMSA President John Doonan said. “Once again, we were blessed with a wealth of talented applicants. Whoever the recipient of the 2023 scholarship is will be a fine representative of IMSA.”
 
To be eligible for the scholarship, drivers must possess a fervent desire to compete in IMSA, have outstanding previous race results and/or proven on-track potential in junior racing categories and the ability to build a compelling business plan for securing the remaining funding needed to compete in a full season in 2023.
 
The IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship recipient will receive substantial support from IMSA and partners including Michelin, VP Racing Fuels, OMP, RECARO and LAT Photo USA in 2023.
 
Jaden Conwright, from Newark, California, is enjoying the benefits of being the inaugural IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship winner. The 23-year-old is competing this weekend in the WeatherTech Championship race at Road America with NTE/SSR in the GT Daytona (GTD) class. Four finalists from last year (denoted below by an asterisk with their name) return for a second chance at the scholarship.
 
Here are the 2023 IMSA Diverse Driver Development Scholarship Finalists (in alphabetical order with age and hometown):
Sebastian Carazo*, 24
Guaynabo, Puerto Rico
 
Carazo is currently competing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, where he ranks second in the Pro-Am class standings with two wins this season, and USAC’s Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, where he is the points leader in the GT3 992 class. He was named as a 2022 Lamborghini Young Driver, nabbing one of only 15 spots available this year and was the 2019 Gold Cup champion in the IMSA-sanctioned Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama.
Sabré Cook*, 27
Grand Junction, Colorado
 
Unable to race this year as she recovers from hip surgery following a racing incident late in 2021, her stats from a year ago are impressive. Cook captured the NLS 8 Nürburgring Cup 5 Class win, was the only American to qualify for the W Series and finished third in her Porsche Sprint Challenge North America debut at Circuit of The Americas, becoming the first woman in series history to finish on the podium.
Courtney Crone*, 21
Corona, California
 
Crone is competing in her second season in the IMSA Prototype Challenge, where she has scored three top-10 finishes including a season-high fifth at Daytona International Speedway. She was the 2021 recipient of the Gorsline Scholarship for Young Racers and has raced in a variety of disciplines, including a run in the Chili Bowl Nationals. 
Bryson Lew, 19
Salt Lake City, Utah
 
During the 2022 racing campaign, Lew was selected as a member of the Lamborghini Young Driver Program. He boasts two Pro-Am class wins in the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series and sits third in the class standings. Lew also has made several starts in other sports car series driving a BMW.
Kyle Loh*, 23
San Jose, California
 
Loh was chosen for the 2022 Honda Performance Development (HPD) Drivers Academy, an exclusive development program hosted by Honda Racing, HPD and Racers Edge Motorsports. In 2021, Loh was the Formula Pro USA, Formula 3 West Coast champion on the strength of five wins.
Cameron Parsons, 34
Hanford, California
 
Parsons got his start racing karts before moving on to the Formula Car Challenge Series, where he won the season points championship in the Formula Mazda class twice. In 2020, he was the Trans Am West Coast Rookie of the Year and last year won class honors in the NASA 25 Hours of Thunderhill. 
Brad Perez, 25
Hollywood, Florida
 
Perez started racing at age 17 in the LO206 Kart class at Homestead-Miami Speedway, where he won two races and scored four podiums in two years. He moved up to SCCA Spec Miata in 2018, where he learned the craft for three years. Last year, he had a pair of wins in the Miata Heritage Cup SVRA at the Charlotte Roval. In 2022, he has made two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts and is an instructor at the BMW Performance Center.

 

State of the Sport Reveals New Dates, New Venues
and More for IMSA in 2023
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Stability and sustainability were among the key messages delivered Friday night in IMSA’s annual State of the Sport presentation to stakeholders and media in Road America’s Tufte Center.

 
IMSA President John Doonan revealed 2023 season schedules and shared details on a wide range of topics with IMSA Radio host John Hindhaugh ahead of what is expected to be a watershed season in 2023 for the flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and all IMSA-sanctioned series.

 
“IMSA has a once-in-a-generation opportunity to re-energize our existing base of sports car racing fans and reach new audiences in 2023 and beyond,” Doonan said. “With the introduction of our new GTP prototypes, a robust and stable platform for GT racing, a renewed focus on sustainability and a calendar filled with legendary road racing venues, all of the ingredients are in place for continued success.”

 
2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Reveals 11-Race Schedule

 

 

 

 

 

 
Sustainability Alliance Reinforced with New Opportunities

 

 

 

 

 
Competition Enhancements Including Bob Akin Bronze Cup Championship Highlighted

 

 

 

 

 
Events at Detroit, Indianapolis Highlight 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Schedule

 

 

 

 
It’s All-or-Nothing Time for No. 01 Cadillac
Sebastien Bourdais Knows He and Renger van der Zande Must Win out to Have Any Chance at the DPi Title

 
August 5, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Sebastien Bourdais and teammate Renger van der Zande know their chances of winning the final Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class title in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship are remote.

 
Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (No. 60 Meyer-Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian) hold a 56-point lead over fellow Acura drivers Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque (No. 10 Konica Minolta). Bourdais and van der Zande, meanwhile, have combined to win three races in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, yet rank third in the standings, 148 points off the pace.

 
Earning four Motul Pole Awards in addition to race wins at Long Beach, Detroit and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the No. 01 Cadillac has often been the fastest DPi car this year. But a troubled start to the season, with poor results in several early races, dug a points deficit they have struggled to overcome.

 
With just two DPi races remaining – starting with Sunday’s IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America – Bourdais realizes it’s a tall mountain to climb.

 
“We’ve had a really fast (No.) 01 Cadillac and Chip Ganassi Racing has given us some great cars, but unfortunately, we’ve fallen out of too many races to really be in the championship hunt,” Bourdais admitted. “We’re going to need some help from the (No.) 60 and the (No.) 10 to run into issues for us to stay in contention and hope for something in the last race (the Motul Petit Le Mans, Oct. 1 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta).

 
“Nevertheless, it’s been a fun season. We’ve been running at the front, winning races, feeling strong.”

 
The Frenchman said he and van der Zande are focused only on trying to win out the season.

 
“We don’t really have our destiny in our own hands, but we’re going to keep on pushing and going for wins, which we have all season,” he said. “Hopefully, we’re still in it going into Road Atlanta. Then it’s a 10-hour race as the championship decider, where we’ve seen crazy things happen.”

 
There’s also the matter of the DPi manufacturer championship. Acura and Cadillac are deadlocked heading to Road America. The two marques have won four races and four pole positions apiece.

 
That’s a clear demonstration of the WeatherTech Championship parity between the V-8 Cadillacs and the turbocharged V-6 Acuras.

 
After the frustration he and van der Zande experienced to start the 2022 campaign and knowing they are longshots for the driver and team titles, Bourdais is almost serene in his approach to the final two races.

 
“From the get-go we were really quick, we’ve had the pace all year long,” he said. “It’s just been a question of completing the races without tripping over something or having issues. It’s a shame that we’ve had so many. When you have three blank results out of a 10-race championship, it’s very unlikely you’re going to end up winning.”

 
A pair of WeatherTech Championship practices take place Friday at Road America, with qualifying to set the 37-car field starting at noon ET Saturday (livestream on IMSA.com/TVLive).

 
Sunday’s race starts at 11:40 a.m. Peacock and IMSA Radio have live coverage from the drop of the green flag, with USA Network joining at noon.

 

 

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What to Watch For: IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend
Road America Boasts History, Speed, Great Viewing and Food … and Drama

 
August 4, 2022
By David Phillips
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Every event in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship has plenty going for it, be it rich histories dating back half a century or more, dramatic settings in the countryside, on the streets of major cities or at some of the sport’s most magnificent coliseums, or a unique but hard to define atmosphere indelibly stamping the race weekend as “special.” 
 
The IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America has all of the above … and more. Road America is unquestionably one of the world’s iconic racetracks, one whose facilities are continually being updated but whose four miles of macadam are essentially unchanged from the day it debuted in 1955.
 
A racetrack where a virtual who’s who of international and homegrown stars and legendary teams have raced and won, it’s also a place where it’s not unusual for fans to find themselves standing in line with IMSA champions past, present and future waiting to order bratwursts, corn on the cob, soft-serve ice cream, soft drinks and (in the case of the fans) beer at concession stands operated by the likes of the Plymouth Optimists Club and Elkhart Lake Lions Club, not to mention carnitas tacos, quesadillas and, yes, margaritas at the Los Amigos Locos stand near Turn 1. 
 
Oh yes, and Road America also offers an embarrassment of riches when it comes to extraordinary spectating spots along the 14-turn course laid out by founder Clif Tufte, which boasts not one, not two, but three sections where the fastest cars top 180 mph.
 
Speaking of spectating, what to watch for this weekend? With all five WeatherTech Championship classes in action, along with the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America and Porsche Carrera Cup North America Presented by the Cayman Islands series on the docket, the answer is: plenty.
 
As is usually (but not always) the case with IMSA, the super-fast Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class headlines the event and will vie for the overall win on Sunday. If recent history is any guide, the identity of that overall winner will be in doubt until the checkered flag falls.
 
For although last year saw Action Express Racing’s No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac win by a “comfortable” margin of 1.5 seconds, the margin of victory in 2020 and 2019 was 0.610 seconds. Combined. Needless to say, Cadillac is itching to repeat last year’s success this weekend with any one of four entries from Cadillac Racing, JDC-Miller MotorSports and Action Express. And having experienced a disappointing campaign to date and with a second straight DPi championship a longshot, watch for Action Express and drivers Pipo Derani and Olivier Pla to pull out all the stops in search of their first win of the season.
 
Then again, with the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and No. 10 Konica Minolta Acuras in a tight scrap for the DPi championship lead, don’t count out either of the Acura ARX-05s.
 
Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) competitors return to action this weekend after a lengthy summer vacation dating to June’s Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Defending LMP2 champs PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports will be looking to follow a win at The Glen with another victory at Road America in the No. 52 ORECA LMP2 07 in order to widen the points lead over the No. 8 Tower Motorsport ORECA. Although Tower Motorsport edged PR1 Mathiasen in the battle for second place at Road America last year, PR1 Mathiasen is no strangers to the top step of the podium there, having secured the LMP2 win in 2019.
 
Nor should the No. 18 Era Motorsport entry piloted by Dwight Merriman and Ryan Dalziel be overlooked given last year’s win at Road America. Likewise, anyone who discounts the potential impact of the No. 81 DragonSpeed USA entry in the hands of Juan Pablo Montoya and Henrik Hedman does so at their own risk. 
 
As ever, the Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) and GTD PRO classes are toss-ups. However, given their commanding lead in the current GTD PRO standings – not to mention GTD wins in their last two visits to Road America (2019 and ’21) – the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R must be the GTD PRO favorite this weekend. Then again, against formidable opposition from the No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3 of Vasser Sullivan Racing, Heart of Racing Team’s No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3, BMW M Team RLL’s No. 25 BMW M4 GT3 and Corvette Racing’s No. 3 C8.R GTD, the outcome is anything but a foregone conclusion.
 
Similarly, any of the 11 GTD entries could take the win at Road America. After all, nine races into the 2022 campaign, all nine marques competing in GTD have won or finished on the podium. Curiously, however, the class-leading No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 is still looking for its first win of the 2022 campaign and would like nothing better than to break into the “W” column at Road America. 
 
Will the No. 32 break the duck this weekend? Be sure to catch all the action from Road America on USA Network, Peacock, IMSA TV and IMSA Radio to see.
Corvette Racing Thrives on Representing ‘America’s Sports Car’
The Popularity of the Iconic Brand Continues to Swell at Home and Abroad

 
August 4, 2022
By Holly Cain
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The drive into any IMSA race venue is almost inevitably met with the deep roar coming from a long line of Chevrolet Corvettes – maybe a 1967 Stingray convertible, a 1975 T-Top, a group of 2022 Z06s – all making their way into the front gate of the track.
 
The distinctive sound of the Corvette engine, the prideful smile of the driver, the look-at-me thrill of the passenger are can’t-miss accessories as this brand of sports car nobility earns waves, admiring nods and tips of the hat from onlookers.
 
It is the ultimate “entrance.”
 
Undoubtedly, in the minutes and hours that follow, those same Corvette owners – dressed in Corvette hats and t-shirts – will walk the crowded IMSA paddock with a purpose, heading straight to the Corvette Racing team. It’s where hundreds of enthusiastic fans can see the race cars up close and always count on an autograph and a handshake from their racing heroes.
 
The only thing more satisfying to this loyal legion than driving a Corvette to an IMSA race is cheering for a Corvette competing in an IMSA race – an effort so often rewarded by a postrace podium celebration.
 
And this perpetual heavy dose of racing love and support has never been overlooked by the drivers who proudly steer the Corvette in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
 
“Growing up in the sports car paddock, you always knew that Corvette Racing brought the biggest fanbase,’’ said current Corvette Racing driver Jordan Taylor. “From every autograph session, they had the longest line, kind of wrapping in front of the other trailers, so I think even if you weren’t with Corvette, you noticed how passionate their fans were.
 
“And then once I joined, it was pretty apparent, pretty obvious, just how passionate they are and how supportive no matter how the weekend’s going, good or bad. They are always there for support, always cheering you on and hoping for a Corvette in victory lane.”
 
For so many of its 24 years competing in “modern-day” sports car racing’s highest echelon, victory lane has been a second home to the Corvette Racing program. Since 1999, Corvette Racing has earned 122 wins – tops among all IMSA entrants – including four GT-class victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona, a dozen more in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and eight wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
 
Passionate Love Affair between Car and Customer
 
This season, Corvette Racing drivers Taylor and Antonio Garcia are second in the GTD PRO championship category, having earned that heralded 12th victory at Sebring for the make.
 
Whether winning races and dominating the GT series in America or claiming winner’s hardware overseas, the Corvette Racing program has consistently commanded a loyal and expansive fandom. It’s an “all-in” club filled with pride and expectation.
And a real love for the car.
 
“Corvette is America’s sports car, that was clear from Day 1, ‘’ said British driver Oliver Gavin, the most successful and longest-tenured driver in Corvette Racing’s storied history.
 
He recalls his earliest days with Corvette Racing, taking immediate note of the unusual love affair generated by the brand and its fanbase – particularly in America, but increasingly overseas as well.
 
“You could see they knew the cars and drivers, the Rons (Fellows) and the Johnnys (O’Connell) and then here you were this new boy,’’ Gavin recalled, noting his earliest days with the make competing alongside the “original” Corvette superstar drivers. 
 
“But the fans embraced you, they wanted to hear your story, they were a family. You felt like you joined this huge family. You were instantly their best friend and since you were driving a Corvette, it didn’t matter what you had done before. You were a part of their team and their family. 
 
“That was the thing that stood out to me, the warmth of the people. Actually, it is a people story. We’re racing cars and racing these machines around the racetrack, but it’s really the people that generate this feeling and emotion from being around the cars. They are so passionate about it and it kind of rubs off on you.”
 
It’s a unique tightly held relationship among carmaker, customer and racer. A relationship identified immediately by General Motors and cultivated at its highest levels.
 
“I think we have the privilege at Corvette of being America’s sports car,’’ said Laura Wontrop Klauser, GM’s sports car racing program manager. 
 
“When I look out and see over 50 percent of the fans at a race are wearing something Corvette, I’m like, ‘Yeah, we won this one,’” Klauser continued. “We race for our fans. We race to spread the message about the brand and the car, but ultimately, we’re out there because of the fanbase and the pride they have and all our employees back at GM have for this car. That’s why we’re out there. 
 
“So, when you see it’s being received so well and people are excited to be there and see the car and be a part of that, that is what is so cool for me. It really justifies why we’re there and makes all the wins and moments we do well matter even more, because we know we’ve got a huge group of people out there celebrating with us, both at the track and watching from home.”
 
Spreading the Corvette Love Globally
In recent years, Corvette drivers say the American love affair has noticeably crossed the Atlantic – a further sign of the immense popularity of the brand.
 
“It’s easy to understand us being a fan favorite here in America when we go to IMSA races, but for me, it really speaks volumes when you go to a race like Le Mans where we’re still a fan favorite and we’re not even in America,’’ Taylor noted.
 
“That everyone still supports us and is a fan of the team, the motto of never giving up is a huge thing for the team. In sports car racing, it’s endurance racing, and the team has shown they never give up and I think the fans appreciate that mentality and that’s how we go about our racing.”
 
The worldwide love affair between Corvette Racing and its massive fandom would indicate as much. The pride Corvette owners feel for their vehicles is amplified with the pride Corvette Racing drivers have for their craft and for the relationships it has cultivated.
 
It’s a unique, unmistakable reality in the IMSA paddock. And it’s what makes Corvette Racing so iconic.
 
“When I go back 20 years, I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but this has led to so many opportunities, so many amazing experiences both at the racetrack and away from the racetrack,’’ Gavin said, the excited sincerity evident as he speaks.
 
“It’s spectacular to see the growth of the car and now the Corvette name and brand has grown into this global sports car because, yes, it is America’s sports car, but it’s now a global sports car that has taken the world by storm.
 
“All these years racing in the biggest sports car races, but not just that, winning all the biggest sports car races in the world,’’ Gavin continued. “It’s really transformed the image of Corvette from being a car with the big thumping V-8 you’d race off the lights. 
 
“Corvette is a serious sports car and every single manufacturer is watching to see what we’re going to do next and jealous we sell so many cars and we sell so many great cars.
 
“The other manufacturers are like, ‘GM and Corvette, they’ve gotten it right.’ And we have.’’

 

 

Hawksworth Happy to Be Back in the Saddle Again
The Vasser Sullivan Driver Is Still Recovering from Ankle and Back Injuries Sustained in a Dirt Bike Incident

 
August 3, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Any mention of motorcycles will not be tolerated by Jack Hawksworth.
 
“We don’t talk about that,” he said with a laugh.
 
Facetious silence aside, Hawksworth is serious about his journey back to full strength after a spill on a dirt bike in May left him with back and ankle injuries that kept him from racing.
 
He missed three races in the Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 but returned July 16 to finish third with teammate Ben Barnicoat in the GTD PRO class in the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park. 
 
As he prepares for Sunday’s IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America, Hawksworth is mending and focused. Considering the extent of the injuries – his right ankle and T12 vertebra both required surgery – it’s a remarkable recovery.
 
“When you have injuries like that, it’s obviously not a quick process,” Hawksworth said. “Every day I feel a little bit better. I’ve been very fortunate to be working with some of the very best people in terms of rehabbing the injuries and getting back going again.”
 
The injuries kept Hawksworth out of two rounds of GTD PRO – Watkins Glen International and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the No. 14 Lexus – and also from the Detroit GTD race, which his co-driver Barnicoat won with Kyle Kirkwood in the renumbered No. 17 Lexus. 
 
But Hawksworth returned at Lime Rock with a positive result and encouraging prognosis.
“I’m getting better every day,” Hawksworth said Tuesday. “Foot’s getting better, back’s getting better. It’s a little bit less pain and a little bit less stiffness. It’s good. In terms of training, I’m able to do a bit more every week in terms of getting back to where it was.”
 
Where it was held promise. Hawksworth and Barnicoat finished second at Long Beach and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in April and May, keeping the No. 14 Lexus in the early championship battle with the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R co-driven by Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell, the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 co-driven by Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas, and the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD co-driven by Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.
 
The podium finish at Lime Rock kept Barnicoat and the No. 14 in third place in the GTD PRO standings. The race also served as a positive first assessment of Hawksworth’s recovery.
 
“Lime Rock was a good test for everything,” Hawksworth said. “I felt really good in the car, to be honest. I didn’t have many issues at all. If anything, I’ve had another two or three weeks now coming into this weekend of recovering. In the car, I really didn’t have a problem. I was surprised. I felt good.” 
 
Just three races remain in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, starting with Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute race at Road America.
 
“I’m looking forward to this weekend,” Hawksworth said. “Hopefully maybe another month or two and I’ll be pretty close to how I was before. That’s kind of the hope is to keep chipping away every day. I’m feeling better all the time.”
 
The IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend is scheduled to begin Sunday at 11:40 a.m. ET on Peacock. USA Network’s TV coverage joins at noon.

 

Derani Driven for Upbeat Finish to Tough Season in No. 31 Cadillac
Action Express Racing Is Working to Regain Its Championship Form Following a Midseason Driver Change 

 
August 2, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The 2022 season has been challenging for defending champions in many forms of racing, including the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Pipo Derani, who teamed with Felipe Nasr to win the Daytona Prototype international (DPi) class title in 2021, has battled through a difficult campaign this year in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

 
Nasr joined Porsche Penske Motorsport this year to help develop the Porsche 963 LMDh prototype that will debut in IMSA’s new GTP class in 2023. Derani, meanwhile, has endured a bumpy ’22 campaign while continuing in the No. 31 Cadillac prepared by Action Express Racing.

 
He started the 2022 season with Tristan Nunez as his new co-driver. They were strong contenders in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts and had three third-place finishes in the first five races, but Olivier Pla replaced Nunez starting in June at the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit. The Derani/Pla combination is also coming off a third-place result in the last round at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

 
“Coming in this year as the champ and having such a difficult year – changing teammates in the middle of the season – it hasn’t been easy,” said Derani, winner of 11 IMSA races. 

 
“It’s been a reality check to what motorsport is. You have ups and downs during your career. Now we are heading into the last two races without a single chance at the championship, but I think it shows how the championship is so competitive you can’t have any weak link in the team whatsoever.”
 
Derani hasn’t thrown in the towel on the remainder of the season, however, especially since he and Nasr won last year at the next stop on the schedule: the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America in Wisconsin.
“You are in one of the most competitive championships in the world,” Derani said. “IMSA right now is extremely competitive. Hopefully, we can be in the mix for a win either at Road America or Road Atlanta to finish the year on a strong note. As they say, you’re only as good as your last race.”

 
It's difficult enough for a team to go through any change in the driver lineup, but Derani and the Action Express organization have experienced the transition twice in the space of six months.

 
Pla, a 40-year-old Frenchman, brings the effort a wealth of prototype racing experience and Derani believes the midseason driver switch has gone as well as could be expected.

 
“We welcomed Tristan at the beginning of the year, and it’s already in itself a difficult situation when you have to learn a new teammate,” Derani related. “It takes a little bit of time to adapt, and then not only that, we had a change in the middle of the season. You repeat the whole process again. When Olivier joined at Detroit, it’s obviously not a very easy track to join and get to learn a new team.

 
“Instead of focusing on details, you’re focusing on getting the driver who’s in the car up to speed quickly,” he added. “You’re starting on the back foot already. In such a competitive championship, this can’t happen.” 

 
Qualifying has not been a strong point for the No. 31 Cadillac, with a single front-row start at Sebring and an average starting berth of fifth. But Derani doesn’t think pure pace has been the problem.

 
“We’re definitely not missing speed; we’ve been close to a couple of pole positions this year that just didn’t materialize, and we led more than 50 percent of the Twelve Hours of Sebring,” Derani noted. “It’s details that make a huge difference when it counts at the very end to have the strong result that we have missed. I would say that’s down to not being fully in sync with one another, especially on the driver front.

 
“We’re working hard on that, and I hope we can have a strong finish to the season. … There are only two shots (remaining) at showing that we are able to do that, but I think if we put everything together, there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be where we belong.”

 
Practice at Road America begins Friday, with qualifying streaming live at 11:55 a.m. ET Saturday on IMSA.com/TVLive. The two-hour, 40-minute race starts at 11:40 a.m. Sunday on Peacock and IMSA Radio, with USA Network TV coverage joining at noon.

 

 

There’s a Science to Managing Tire Deg in Racing
Much of How to Get Best Tire Performance on a Weekend is Determined in Advance

 
August 2, 2022
By Jeff Olson
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Tire deg.
 
If you follow racing, you’ve heard the term. It’s short for “tire degradation,” but it doesn’t necessarily mean what it seems. It’s not simply about tire wear. It’s a complicated mix of temperature, surface, compound, conditions and driving style. In other words, all the elements that cause rubber to break down and wear out.
 
Tires on a passenger car will wear out in about 50,000 or 60,000 miles of normal driving. In racing, though, the driving is far from normal, and tires wear out – seeing their ultimate grip when in contact with the track surface decrease as the rubber tread compound gradually shreds away due to the continuous frictional confrontation between tire and track – over the course of a single stint of a race.
 
And, unlike your daily driver, tire deg on a race car affects performance and traction as soon as a stint begins. If not managed properly, tires can lose grip dramatically and quickly, leaving a racer with a car that doesn’t respond the way it would with fresh tires.
“It sounds obvious, but if you don’t slide the tire, it’s not going to wear as quickly,” said Ricky Taylor, who’ll drive the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 with Filipe Albuquerque in the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America this weekend. “That’s so much easier said than done when you’re trying to push the limits of the car. To be competitive in such a high-pressure situation, sometimes you have no choice but to push the car over the limit. That’s where the more experienced drivers can use their expertise to exploit the limit of the car without sliding the tire too much.”
 
Saving tires is an art that most successful racers have in common. Driving fast while minimizing tire wear is a skill born of experience and information. Knowing how each track wears out tires is a critical piece of information in each team’s arsenal.
 
“A lot of historical experience that we have can give us plenty of information about what the tire is going to do,” Taylor said. “There are definitely some people who are better at it than others.”
 
As much as all tracks are different in relation to tire wear, so are cars – and so is the difference between tire deg on the front and rear tires. Road America’s 14-turn, 4.048-mile circuit is notorious for tire wear, and for the difference in wear between fronts and rears.
 
The Carousel – the high-speed right-hander that makes up Turns 9 and 10 – is particularly rough on tires. Especially front tires, Taylor said. 
 
“With the Carousel being so important for front grip, Road America jumps out as a place that’s hard on tires,” Taylor said. “Looking back, you can study what went wrong and you can identify what you can do better.”
That’s exactly what teams do. They record the wear of each tire under testing, practice and race conditions, noting the length of the stint and the track conditions. That gives engineers a solid base on which to make decisions regarding the car’s setup.
 
“A lot of the tire saving is done before the race weekend starts – how you set up the car to favor a certain end of the car,” Taylor said. “Is it a soft or stiff car? Are you favoring the rear in order to save your rear tires?”
 
It’s one of the many elements of racing that gets overlooked. To get to the finish line ahead of everyone else, a driver and team have to preserve their tires. It’s not as simple as two words. 
 
“Tire deg is one of those things that affects so much of the car setup,” Taylor said. “We gather that experience over the years.”

 

 

 

‘America’s National Park of Speed’ Readies to Welcome IMSA
The Label First Attached to Road America by Auto Industry Analyst Peter DeLorenzo Still Holds True

 
August 1, 2022
By John Oreovicz
IMSA Wire Service
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Road America is often called “America’s National Park of Speed,” and it’s easy to see why.

 
Located on 640 acres of pastoral woodland in Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine region near the town of Elkhart Lake, Road America is acknowledged by racers and spectators as one of the finest road racing venues in the world.

 
There are few better ways to experience the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship than to spend a weekend at Road America. More than any other venue on the calendar, it needs to be seen to be appreciated. Television and the printed page don’t come close to doing it justice. The WeatherTech Championship, along with three more IMSA-sanctioned series, head to the track this week for the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend.

 
“If there’s one word to describe Road America, it’s ‘fabulous,’” legendary racer Bobby Rahal said. “It’s four miles of the greatest track in North America – certainly one of the greatest in the world. I don’t know anybody who dislikes the place.”

 
A Legendary Track Even for Legends
Rahal grew up in suburban Chicago, about two hours south of Elkhart Lake; his father, Mike, was a successful sports car racer in the 1960s, and young Bob often accompanied his dad to events around the country.

 
A few years later, Rahal ran some of his first SCCA races at Road America before venturing to Europe to race Formula 3 and Formula 2 in the late 1970s. Returning to the U.S., Rahal focused on sports cars, claiming marquee IMSA victories at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts at the time he was becoming one of the most successful American open-wheel drivers of his era.

 
Now a team owner in Indy cars and sports cars (BMW M Team RLL is the German marque’s factory effort in the WeatherTech Championship), some of Rahal’s fondest memories are generated by what remains his favorite racetrack.

 
“When I think about myself as a little boy watching racing, I think of Road America. I’ve been going there since I was 4,” Rahal said. “We’d walk around the entire track watching the 500-mile sports car race. I saw the greatest drivers in the world there – Denny Hulme, Bruce McLaren, Jim Hall, Peter Revson, Mark Donohue – every name you can think of.

 
“Then when I was a little older, it seems like every college kid within 500 miles would show up in Elkhart Lake,” Rahal added. “It was like Woodstock.”

 
Credit for ‘National Park of Speed’ Tagline

 
Auto industry analyst Peter DeLorenzo is credited with creating the tagline “America’s National Park of Speed” for the track. DeLorenzo began attending events at Road America at roughly the same time as Rahal, assisting with his brother Tony’s racing team. While Tony’s sports car racing exploits earned him a 2009 nomination to the Corvette Hall of Fame, Peter worked for more than two decades in automotive marketing and advertising before founding Autoextremist.com in 1999.

 
“Early on, I saw Road America as a jewel that’s just not recognized enough,” said DeLorenzo. “It’s the finest racetrack in America, and I just always had a good feeling going there – the park setting and the way the town of Elkhart Lake embraces the track, unlike a lot of other towns next to racetracks.

 
“It just felt like going to a national park, with the atmosphere and the connection to the town,” he continued. “Remarkably, it hasn’t changed all that much. You look at the vintage photos, and everything is still there. The people running the track understand its place in the scheme of things. Everyone who works there understands its presence in the world of racing, and that’s nice to see.”

 
The story of Road America is legend itself. Wisconsin, like many other states, moved to ban organized racing on public roads in the early 1950s. Clif Tufte, a local civil engineer, proposed utilizing a 523-acre tract of virgin land owned by Elkhart Sand and Gravel to create a permanent racetrack. Tufte walked the land and laid out a four-mile course, and five months after securing financing through a public stock offering, Road America hosted its first event in September 1955. Phil Hill, who went on to win the 1961 Formula 1 World Championship, was the winner.

 
The track Tufte envisioned in 1955 is the same track you see today. One of the most remarkable aspects about Road America is while the property itself has been expanded, frequently upgraded and modernized with spectator amenities and safety refinements, the track layout remains exactly as it was in 1955.

 
Unspoiled Thrills for Drivers and Fans Alike
The challenge of driving that track is a powerful lure for drivers from all over the world, who relish the opportunity to push a machine to the limit in the most pure, unspoiled road racing environment you can find in the 21st century. No other road course in America offers the same combination of ultra-fast corners (Turn 1, the Kink and the Carousel, to name but three) linked by long straights, all while traversing 171 feet of elevation change.

 
During a 24 Hours of Lemons race at Road America in 2012, a trio of drivers in a tired-looking Porsche 944 stood out thanks to their professional-looking Audi Team Joest firesuits. Turned out it was two-time IMSA champion Emmanuele Pirro, then just a couple years into retirement, and his two sons. They were on holiday, competing purely for enjoyment.

 
“My sons don’t race, but we wanted to have a nice adventure together,” said Pirro, who notched 19 victories in American sports car racing, including two wins apiece in the Twelve Hours of Sebring and Motul Petit Le Mans, and three sprint race wins at Road America. “This is their very first car race, and we came from Italy just for this.

 
“Road America is a track I have always loved,” he added. “It’s my favorite circuit in the U.S. I had so many great moments here, so to come back brings up good memories.”

 
The experience is just as exhilarating for spectators. There are so many places at Road America where fans can get close views of the cars to really capture the speed and skill involved. It’s an ideal venue for family outings. Though reserved seats are available, the best place to watch the action is from the lush green hillsides, which often give a panoramic view of several corners.        

 
You can ride your bicycle on paved paths around the circuit, stroll through the paddock and vendor area, or hike to your favorite viewing spot and pitch a blanket. Bring a cooler, but the treats on offer at the concession stands are the best track food available anywhere: fire-roasted corn on the cob, grilled bratwursts, and soft-serve ice cream, all served with a dash of friendly Wisconsin hospitality by local volunteers and charities. For some fans, Road America weekends are remembered for the number of brats consumed.

 
Town of Elkhart Lake Adds to the Allure
When the day’s on-track action ends, the party moves to the nearby town of Elkhart Lake – most notably to Siebkens Resort, a local tavern and inn under the same family’s ownership since 1916, where fans are often able to rub elbows with drivers and other notable figures.

 
“I’ve always had good times and great memories at Road America, usually involving Siebkens and some of the hangovers I’ve had to endure,” laughed former racer Jimmy Vasser, whose Vasser Sullivan team now fields a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 cars in the WeatherTech Championship. “Thank goodness for the breakfast brat.

 
“I usually camped at the track in a motorhome, and it was always enjoyable,” he added. “But I remember the first time I was there in 1993. I had my mom with me and we stayed at Siebkens. Paul Newman didn’t come that year, and they gave us his usual room, No. 11. It was a bit cramped and not that fancy, but she was really happy and always tells that story.”

 
The final word goes to Dario Franchitti, who set the Road America track record that still stands in a Reynard Indy car in 2000 – 1 minute, 39.866 seconds, computing to an average speed of 145.924 mph for a 14-turn road course.

 
A week before setting that mark, Franchitti endured a miserable race weekend at another popular American road course that ended with a blown engine.

 
“At least next week is Elkhart Lake,” he said, cheering up. “I may not be allowed to eat bratwursts, but then again, you guys can’t blast out of the woods into Canada Corner at 200 miles per hour. That’s what being a race car driver is all about.”

 
It’s an allure that is absolutely unique to America’s National Park of Speed.

 
(Black and white photos courtesy Road America)
 

 

Manufacturer Madness in ’22 Michelin Pilot Challenge Season

Ten of the 11 Marques Competing in the Series Have Won This Year Heading to Road America This Week

 
August 1, 2022
By Godwin Kelly
IMSA Wire Service
Entry List (Click Here)
 
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s not unusual to have one manufacturer, maybe two, dominate a racing series with victory after victory.
 
Just the opposite is happening in the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge’s Grand Sport (GS) and Touring Car (TCR) classes. Of the 11 manufacturers represented in the two divisions, there have been wins by 10 different car makers. The parity in this series is off the charts.
 
In the most recent round at Lime Rock Park on July 16, Chevrolet (GS) and Audi (TCR) joined the others at the winner’s table.
 
“Having raced in the GS class for years now, there are some years when it’s like this,” said Will Turner, whose Turner Motorsport fields a pair of BMW M4 GT4 cars. “It’s hard to win a race and there’s no real dominant car. Last year and this year seem to be tighter than ever.”
 
John Wright’s group runs the operation this year for the No. 7 Volt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, which leads the GS championship, after years of running the Wright Motorsports Porsche in the class. He said the difference between the Michelin Pilot Challenge cars is like the width of a whisker.
 
“For us, our antennas are up all the time,” he said. “You don’t go into one of those races assuming you are going to dominate. The driving is really hard, the wheel-to-wheel racing that is going on from start to finish.”
 
When Frank DePew and Robin Liddell pushed the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Camaro GT4.R across the line first at Lime Rock, it added Chevrolet to the list of 2022 GS winners along with Aston Martin, BMW, Ford, Mercedes-AMG and Porsche. Three races remain for Toyota, which has a pair of podium finishes this season, to join the group.
Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian fields a combined six cars in the TCR class, but it was the No. 17 Unitronic JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS SEQ that snagged first place at Lime Rock.
 
“We came in with a really strong program with Hyundai (in 2019) and I think it woke up other competitors and manufacturers,” BHA team owner Herta said. “Racers are innovators by nature and I think they have taken the challenge and said, ‘OK, we’re going to be the ones to put you on the back foot now.’ We welcome that. It’s hard to win a race in the TCR class now. When you win a race, that’s really something.”
 
Tim Lewis and Roy Block broke the seal and set the tone for the 2022 season by winning the season-opening TCR class at Daytona International Speedway in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce. In Round 2 at Sebring International Raceway, another single-car team stole the show when Karl Wittmer and Victor Gonzalez took the No. 99 Victor Gonzalez Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR to victory lane.
 
“This type of racing is more than muscle,” said Gonzalez. “You have to work your brains out there. You have to work a strategy. You have to work the fuel runs. You need to conserve tires.”
 
Herta welcomes the competition.
 
“It’s good,” he said. “We relish the challenge. It’s obvious the level of competition has risen across the board. We are working hard to raise our level as well.”
 
Turner had a similar opinion.
 
“IMSA has done a good job of having a series that allows all these manufacturers win races,” he said. “That just shows the strength of the series. I think this attracts more competition moving forward because who doesn’t want to enter a race where you have a chance to win it? That’s what everybody wants and that’s kind of where we are at with all these different winners.”
 
On deck this week is the grueling, four-hour Road America 240, part of the IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend at Road America. The race streams live at 2:15 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock.
 

  Lamborghini Super Trofeo series

 

Wet and Wild Win for Spinelli, Taurino Completes Super Trofeo Sweep
The No. 88 Huracán Takes Both Victories at Road America

 
August 7, 2022
By Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
 
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – Neither race was easy but Loris Spinelli and Giano Taurino completed a weekend sweep of Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America, winning both races at Road America. The second victory came in difficult conditions Sunday that included a red-flag stoppage and mandate for teams to change to wet-condition tires.

 
Starting ninth overall in the No. 88 Taurino Racing by D Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2, Taurino moved into the top six before making the mandatory pit stop and turning over the car for Spinelli to finish the 50-minute race.

 
A full-course caution came soon after, when several cars slid off course in Turn 12 as heavy rain pelted that area of the track. The race was red-flagged with 17 minutes, 17 seconds to go, with Spinelli saddled in 12th place.

 
The Italian relied on his extensive wet-weather racing experience to slice through the field after racing resumed. He crossed the finish line second behind Nelson Piquet Jr. (No. 30 Ansa Motorsports, Lamborghini Broward Huracán), who was assessed a postrace penalty for not making the mandatory pit stop and relegated to 22nd in the standings.

 
“This race for sure has been a real challenge for the weather,” Spinelli said. “I’m so happy! I fight in the end to get this win. Thanks to Giano for an amazing stint in the first part and everybody at Taurino for this. Some parts of the track were very wet, so (the red flag) was the best way to choose to have a safe race. But it was hard to keep the car on the track.”

 
The margin of victory for Spinelli and Taurino was a scant 0.757 seconds over Joel Miller, making his series debut this weekend in the No. 11 Flying Lizard Motorsports, Lamborghini Newport Beach Huracán. Sunday’s win for the No. 88 followed the triumph in Saturday’s first race dominated by full-course cautions.

 
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Taurino said of the sweep. “My heart’s still shaking, I still have butterflies. It was unexpected because we’ve been struggling all year and we finally have found a car that can help us fight now. I think this is only the beginning.”

 
Bryson Lew and John Dubets completed a weekend sweep in ProAm as well, winning both class races in the No. 46 Precision Performance Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán. The duo took third place overall Sunday and won their class by more than 16 seconds.

 
“I had a little bit of excitement there,” said Dubets, who started the race. “I was behind Piquet, we came into Canada Corner and it started downpouring. We both went for a wild ride. Luckily, our car stayed on track and we managed to catch the pit lane before it closed. (It) put Bryson in the perfect spot to go out there in front of the field and he did an excellent job in those tricky conditions.”

 
“It feels great to be back on the podium, on the top step especially,” Lew added. “John told me to be careful with all the lines, with the oil and the rain. I made sure to be cautious the first pace lap and I just implemented that throughout the race. It worked out great.”

 
The Am class winner Sunday was Shehan Chandrasoma in the No. 19 MCR racing, Lamborghini Austin Huracán. The Super Trofeo rookie gained his third win of the season.

 
“It was a good race,” Chandrasoma said. “I lost two spots in the end in the overall, but I just decided to stay safe in my Am class. That’s what I’m competing for and I think I’m back in the championship hunt now.”

 
LB Cup provided a sensational story with Keawn Tandon taking the class win in his first car racing weekend. The 18-year-old’s previous experience all came in karting. He didn’t know he would be competing in Lamborghini Super Trofeo until Thursday, when he took his first shakedown laps in the No. 89 NTE Sport, Lamborghini San Francisco Huracán.

 
“It was amazing; I’m still processing it,” Tandon said. “The biggest thing was just to stay clean the whole time and get the thing rotated and back to power as soon as possible, and just stay out of traffic. After they told me I was P1 in my class, the last three laps I just let off and said, ‘Let’s just keep it like this.’”

 
Unofficial class leaders after eight of 12 races are:

 
Pro: Kyle Marcelli and Danny Formal, No. 1 Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing Lamborghini Paramus Huracán, by 26 points over Edoardo Piscopo and Patrick Kujala, No. 50 O’Gara Motorsport/Change Racing/US RaceTronics, Lamborghini Beverly Hills Huracán.

 
ProAm: Ashton Harrison and Tom Long, No. 25 Harrison Contracting with Wayne Taylor Racing, Lamborghini Paramus Huracán, by two points over Dubets and Lew.

 
Am: David Staab and Nikko Reger, No. 48 Precision Performance Motorsports, Lamborghini Palm Beach Huracán, by 10 points over Chandrasoma.

 
LB Cup: Slade Stewart, No. 14 Flying Lizard Motorsports, Lamborghini Newport Beach Huracán, by 10 points over Jason Gagne-Keats and Charlie Martin, No. 54 Dream Racing Motorsport, Lamborghini San Francisco Huracán.

 
The next doubleheader round is Aug. 26-28 at VIRginia International Raceway.
 

 

2023 Lamborghini Super Trofeo Schedule Includes Stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway

Six Doubleheader Rounds Will Be Featured in the Series’ 11th Season
ELKHART LAKE, Wis. (August 5, 2022) – Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America returns for an 11th season in 2023 with a schedule including a first visit to iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Once again, six doubleheader race rounds are on the calendar, plus the World Finals where North American teams and drivers will compete head-to-head with their European counterparts.

 
“As we celebrate a decade of great competition and growth for Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America this year, we’re very excited to announce the 2023 schedule,” said Chris Ward, senior manager of motorsports, Automobili Lamborghini America. “We’ve lined up five legendary racetracks across the U.S. to host the domestic rounds, where the Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2 cars can really flex their muscles. Adding Indianapolis Motor Speedway to that impressive list of tracks makes this the most prolific schedule to date, and we can’t wait to get the season rolling.”

 
The 2023 schedule opens at the same site as this year’s curtain raiser, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca from May 12-14. Rounds to follow will be at Watkins Glen International (June 22-25), Road America (Aug. 4-6) and VIRginia International Raceway (Aug. 25-27) before the single-make series sanctioned by IMSA heads to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course from Sept. 15-17 as part of the IMSA Battle on the Bricks weekend.

 
The final round in the North American championship will take place at the World Finals circuit, with the dates and location to be named. The World Finals pairing the North American and European series drivers and teams will follow.

 
Lamborghini Super Trofeo features four classes of competition, with all teams running the identical Lamborghini Huracán Super Trofeo Evo2 cars that debuted this year. The 2022 season has witnessed record fields at each round, with 36 entries on hand this weekend at Road America. Remaining rounds this year are set for VIRginia International Raceway (Aug. 26-28) and Portimao, Portugal (Nov. 2-4) in conjunction with the 2022 World Finals.
 

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2022 SVRA/SpeedTour Schedule

 

1.     Auto Club-February 4-6

2.     Sebring-February 24-27

3.     Charlotte-March 17-20

4.     Road Atlanta-March 24- 27

5.     NOLA-April 8-10

6.     Laguna Seca-April 21-24

7.     Sonoma-April-28-May 1

8.     Road America-May 19-22

9.     Lime Rock-May 27-30

10. Ridge-June 10-12

11. Indianapolis Motor Speedway-June 16-19

12. Mid-Ohio-June 23-26

13. Portland-July 2-4

14. Watkins Glen-September 7-11

15. VIR-October 6-9

16. Utah Motorsport Campus-October 14-16

17. CoTA-November 3-6

 
 
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