Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway was a rather rough affair with lots of contact. Mazda Team Joest’s Harry Tincknell made too aggressive of a move in lapped traffic and spun himself out. That allowed Tequila Patron ESM’s Pipo Derani to slip past. From there, Derani pulled away to give himself and teammate Johannes van Overbeek their second win of the year.
“Fantastic. My team is amazing,” Derani said after the race. “If it wasn’t for them, we wouldn’t have finished where we finished today. We had a tough race: contact and spin. They kept pushing me over the radio. Save fuel, save tires, but kept pushing me all the time.”
The race itself got off to a bruising beginning. On the initial start, JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Robert Alon appeared to misjudge the start. That caused a chain-reaction incident that resulted in Misha Goikhberg getting into the back of Action Express Racing’s Jõao Barbosa. The wreck was on from there.
Barbosa was out on the spot. Porsche GT Team’s Nick Tandy was able to drive his car back to the pits, but did not continue once he did. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing IMSA’s Dirk Müller got towed back to the paddock, where the No. 66 team made repairs to their Ford GT. They made it back out to run a couple of laps before retiring.
On the restart, another stack-up occurred. 3GT Racing’s Kyle Marcelli clipped the AstroTurf on the outside of Turn 11 and turned into Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen. In addition, Meyer Shank Racing’s Justin Marks ran into the back of another car and had his hood pop open. Marks was out of the race due to the damage, but everyone else was able to continue.
Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jordan Taylor won the pole on Saturday, but lost the advantage on the start to Acura Team Penske’s Dane Cameron. He would not have the chance to get it back as the car suffered a gearbox failure after only eight laps under green (20 overall). The DNF took Jordan Taylor and teammate Renger van der Zande out of championship contention.
The day for Derani and van Overbeek was far from perfect. Van Overbeek was within only a couple of feet of getting wiped out by Müller in the Lap 1 incident. After the yellow caused by Jordan Taylor’s gearbox failure, Derani made an aggressive move in Turn 2 and hit AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports’ Sebastian Saavedra, spinning himself out in the process.
The man on the move once the race finally got going was Mazda Team Joest’s Jonathan Bomarito. Bomarito stalked the leaders early on, then made his way up the order. By the first round of stops, Bomarito had moved the No. 55 Mazda up to second. During those stops, a quick exchange, plus an error exiting the pits by Juan Pablo Montoya allowed the No. 55 to cycle to the overall lead.
Once out front, Tincknell opened up more than 20 seconds on the pack. Derani closed the margin to under 10 seconds, but Tincknell was still comfortably in front when he came across the same ORECA 07 that Derani hit, this time driven by Gustavo Yacaman. With 34 minutes to go, Tincknell attempted to pass in Turn 5 and made contact with Yacaman, spinning himself out. Tincknell recovered, but dropped outside the top five.
Derani gained the lead while Tincknell was trying to recover and pulled away for an easy victory. The margin was 10.9 seconds over CORE autosport’s Jon Bennett and Colin Braun in their ORECA 07-Gibson. Ricky Taylor in the Penske No. 7 Acura was in position to finish second, but late contact with the No. 63 Ferrari broke the right rear suspension on his car, putting him out.
In GT Le Mans, fuel mileage was the name of the game. Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia dominated a good chunk of the race. However, strategy put them on the short end of the stick. BMW Team RLL’s No. 25 for Connor De Phillippi and Alexander Sims made an early stop just before the caution flew for Jordan Taylor stopping on course to get on an alternate strategy. Ultimately, de Phillippi got in the car with 77 minutes remaining during the final caution. He was forced to conserve his fuel and tires from the moment he got in the car.
The rest of the leaders made their final stops with 45 minutes remaining and were able to push to the finish. The strategy left BMW Team RLL first and second with John Edwards leading in the No. 24. Edwards was unable to save enough fuel and had to pit with less than 10 minutes to go. That gave de Phillippi the lead and he was able to hold on for the win.
De Phillippi and Sims ended up 2.488 seconds ahead of Porsche GT Team’s Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor, who were on the same strategy. Magnussen and Garcia ended up third, followed by Edwards and Jesse Krohn. Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner in the second Corvette were fifth.
In GTD, Meyer Shank Racing’s Katherine Legge won the class pole on Saturday and needed a good run to keep herself in championship contention. She got that and more on Sunday.
Legge dropped back early from the class pole but worked her way back up the order. The fact that Legge was driving an Acura NSX GT3 really worked to her advantage. She was able to go a full fuel run on tires while her competition was struggling after about 55 minutes.
Issues for Auberlen brought Legge in for her stop just before the fourth and final yellow flew. Beating the caution meant that co-driver Àlvaro Parente took the lead after the yellow. He would relinquish the lead with 30 minutes to go for his final stop.
Parente’s stop put Park Place Motorsports’ Jörg Bergmeister and Riley Motorsports’ Jeroen Bleekemolen in first and second on a fuel conservation strategy. Points leader Bryan Sellers was third with no fuel worries while Parente was fourth. Over the next 25 minutes, Parente ran down Sellers (his former teammate in Pirelli World Challenge) and overtook him. He then made short work of Bleekemolen and Bergmeister to take the class lead with five minutes remaining. From there, Parente pulled away to get the victory.
For Parente, it’s his first career IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win while for Legge, it’s her fourth. It also puts Legge only six points behind Sellers and Madison Snow in the standings.
Parente and Legge won by 5.513 seconds over Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey. Bleekemolen and Ben Keating were third in their Mercedes, followed by Sellers and Snow. Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally and John Potter were fifth.
The final race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season is the 21st running of the Motul Petit Le Mans from Road Atlanta in Georgia. Coverage is set to begin at 10:30 a.m. ET on Oct. 13 on FOX Sports 1. Frontstretch will be on site at Road Atlanta to bring you all the action.
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