Going into Saturday morning’s 150-minute Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Lime Rock, it was assumed that the race would come down to tires. The Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsports weigh less, thus it was assumed that they would be quicker later. In addition, everyone assumed that the race would have a couple of cautions to break the flow of the race up.
Most of those storylines didn’t particularly come to pass. Yes, the Cayman GT4 Clubsports were faster, but not by that much. As for the notion of cautions, not this time. The 150-minute race ran caution-free. It was a true test of the cars and drivers. The supposed “underdog” of the day ended up on top at the end.
CJ Wilson Racing‘s Danny Burkett brought the field to the green from pole, but Multimatic Motorsports‘ Scott Maxwell was able to sweep past on the outside at the first turn. The two leaders proceeded to pull away from the pack in an attempt to settle things amongst themselves.
Despite being passed at the start, Burkett stalked Maxwell through the first ten minutes. Burkett then jumped on Maxwell and retook the lead. From there, Burkett pulled out a decent advantage of five seconds over Maxwell prior to the first round of pit stops.
Here’s where Multimatic Motorsports had the advantage. Each time that the No. 15 Ford Shelby Mustang GT350R-C came to pit road, they gained a massive amount of time on the No. 33. Pit stops have been the kryptonite of CJ Wilson Racing all season and Saturday was no exception to the rule.
Burkett entered the pit with multiple seconds over Maxwell. After four tires, fuel and driver changes, co-driver Marc Miller ended up four seconds behind Billy Johnson. From there, getting through traffic was the main goal of the day. 35 cars on a 1.53-mile road course doesn’t leave all that much room for movement. The leaders were constant in traffic, making it very difficult for Miller to reel in Johnson.
The second stop (two tires and fuel) was more of the same as the Porsche was slow to refuel. That left Johnson with a 15 second lead. From there, Miller gained on Johnson for much of the rest of the race, but ultimately couldn’t do anything with Johnson. Johnson was able to take it easy over the last few laps and coast to a five-second victory.
Miller and Burkett ended up second, followed by Bodymotion Racing‘s Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman in third. Tyler McQuarrie and Till Bechtolsheimer in the second CJ Wilson Racing Porsche was fourth, 44 seconds back, while Automatic Racing‘s Rob Ecklin, Jr. and Peter Ludwig were a lap down in fifth.
During the fan walk at 8:30 Saturday morning, a number of drivers indicated that Saturday was going to belong to the Mazda MX-5’s. They had the advantages of less weight, better tire wear and better braking in their corner. The race was a coronation of that fact.
On the start, Terry Borcheller, making a one-off appearance for ALARA Racing, swept past Freedom Autosport‘s Chad McCumbee on the first lap to take the lead. Honda of America Racing Team‘s two entries led by team principal Chad Gilsinger were third and fourth.
A few laps into the run, McCumbee was able to get back by Borcheller for the lead and managed to run away and hide from the pack. Behind the leaders, Gilsinger was forced to retire the No. 93 Honda with an engine problem.
Once the tire wear set in, the Mazda MX-5’s were in a league of their own. Driver changes took place on the first round of pit stops. When they were complete, Freedom Autosport’s Stevan McAleer had a 23 second lead on ALARA Racing’s Christian Szymczak. The No. 26 MX-5 from Freedom Autosport started by Liam Dwyer and co-driven by Andrew Carbonell moved up to third.
During the second half of the race, Szymczak and Carbonell were able to close the gap on McAleer, but they simply could not run down the ModSpace-sponsored No. 25. McAleer was able to hold on to take his (and McCumbee’s) first win of the year.
Szymczak and Borcheller ended up 10.66 seconds back in second, while Carbonell and Dwyer were third. These three (all in Mazda MX-5’s) were the only drivers on the ST lead lap. Rennsport One‘s Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante were fourth in class in their Porsche Cayman, but a full lap and change behind the No. 26. They were reportedly lapped on merit by Carbonell in one hour. The Murillo Racing Cayman of Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing was fifth.