IMSA: Corvette & Ford share honours in Canada




Corvette Daytona Prototype drivers Dane Cameron and Eric Curran combined to score their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season Sunday in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, leading Action Express Racing to its second consecutive 1-2 finish. The pair led 66 of the 125 laps in the two-hour and 40-minute race in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP, including the final 36 circuits.

With Cameron pulling away, Action Express Racing teammate Joao Barbosa passed Jordan Taylor for second place in traffic with five minutes remaining in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP started by Christian Fittipaldi. Three minutes later, the third caution period of the race froze the field with Cameron leading his teammate by 17.067 seconds.

Unofficially, Curran and Cameron trimmed the points lead of Fittipaldi and Barbosa to four points, 220-216, with three races remaining for the Prototype class. The Taylor brothers finished third in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, and are third in the standings with 211 points.
Curran was running sixth prior to the opening round of green flag pit stops. Cameron exited the pits behind the No. 55 Mazda Prototype of Jonathan Bomarito and Action Express teammate Barbosa, but quickly passed both of them in a three-wide move exiting the first turn.

“That was probably one of the toughest out laps in my life, to try and get some track position and get to the front,” Cameron said of his move to the lead. “Today was one of those races where traffic seemed to go our way and the car drove well. Plus, the team was amazing in the pit lane, we made up positions during the stops. It was an important win for us. We did everything we could to win today.”

Tristan Nunez won the TOTAL Pole Award in the No. 55 Mazda Prototype on Saturday but lost the lead to Ricky Taylor at the start. He retook the lead on Lap 12. Nunez then pulled away, leading 25 laps prior to his pit stop, which was slowed by problems with the air jack. Bomarito took over at the stop and was running fifth when he pulled off in Turn 1 one hour, 13 minutes into the race after the right-rear hub failed, bringing out the first caution and ending the day for the Mazda.


The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT team of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe earned their third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class victory in Sunday’s Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Unlike the previous two victories for the No. 67 duo, however, this one came as somewhat of a surprise.

“I am surprised a bit,” Westbrook said. “We were struggling a bit on Friday, but we just kept improving the car all weekend. We knew we had a shot for the podium, but we kept dreaming big. We needed something special to win, and that’s what we got today.”

What they got was a masterful strategy call from Ford Chip Ganassi Racing. After running most of the first half of the race in third or fourth place, the team took tires for the final time when they pitted under full-course caution an hour and 20 minutes into the two-hour and 40-minute race.

The No. 67 was sixth in class following that stop, but as the cars running ahead of them made their final pit stops for fuel and tires under green-flag conditions, Briscoe gradually worked his way to the class lead. Then, with approximately 50 minutes remaining in the race, the Ganassi team brought Briscoe onto pit road for a seven-second splash of fuel only and sent him back on course without losing the lead.

That made all the difference, as Briscoe maintained a reasonable, 5-6-second gap to Tommy Milner’s No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R for the remaining distance to score the third-straight WeatherTech Championship win for the team. Briscoe and Westbrook also won the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May and the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen at Watkins Glen International last weekend.

“We were in tire and fuel conservation mode as soon as we left the pits, but needed some help,” Briscoe said. “When everyone else pitted we knew we had the opportunity to take a splash of fuel but not change tires. It was a brilliant call by the team. Tommy was a bit quicker, but I was just trying to hang on and bring it home.”

The victory moved Westbrook and Briscoe closer to the GTLM points lead. They now trail Milner and his No. 4 Corvette co-driver Oliver Gavin by five points, 192-187. Gavin and Milner finished second, while their teammates, Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen finished third in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. Garcia started the race from the pole position and led throughout his 42-minute opening stint, while Magnussen also led for more than 50 minutes.

13653139_1040936769317908_9164550559755653729_oPrototype Challenge

Looking to “mix things up” in an up-and-down season, CORE autosport did just that in Prototype Challenge (PC). After Colin Braun captured his second TOTAL Pole Award of the year in qualifying, the team elected to swap starting drivers for the race. As a result, Jon Bennett started the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources/Crowdstrike ORECA FLM09 from sixth position at the back of the PC grid.

Meanwhile, JDC-Miller Motorsports also changed its usual driving order, with Stephen Simpson qualifying and starting in the No. 85 Hi-Tide Boat Lifts/Red Line Oil ORECA FLM09 as usual starter Misha Goikhberg was with his expectant wife. Taking the lead on the opening lap, Simpson led the class for 106 laps before turning the car over to Goikhberg with 21 minutes remaining.

At that point, Braun was prevailing in a battle for second with Renger van der Zande, who was looking to take his third consecutive victory in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA started by Alex Popow. Simpson’s stop put Braun in the lead, which he held for the rest of the event, joining Bennett in their second victory of the season.

“We had a great strategy planned from our race engineers,” Braun said. “They came up with a unique strategy that didn’t play out until the last 20-30 minutes of the race. In order for it to work, you had to have the pace the entire day. Hats off to everyone, everyone did their jobs and when that happens nine times out of 10 that turns out to be a win.”

Van der Zande took second, followed by Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Professional Security Systems ORECA and the No. 38 Performance 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry of James French and Kyle Marcelli. Simpson and Goikhberg finished fifth.


Jens Klingmann went from third place to first in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with a brilliant pass in Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s famed Moss Corner with 30 minutes remaining to give the BMW M6 GT3 its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in the No. 96 Spectra Resources / United Steel / Valspar Paint / IHG Rewards Club entry from Turner Motorsport.

Klingmann got around both Jeroen Bleekemolen in the No. 33 / Cruising with the Monkey Dodge Viper GT3-R, who was running second in class, and the leading No. 27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 driven by Fabio Babini. He then pulled away from the rest of the GTD field over the closing laps to score the victory for himself and co-driver Bret Curtis, who started the race from fourth on the class grid.


“I knew that when (team owner Will) Turner came on the radio and he said this is the fight for the lead and the win, we had a chance for the win,” Klingmann said. “(Bleekemolen) was fighting very hard, it was tough to stay close to him in [going into Turn] 5b. Just then, the traffic came towards us, and I think the Lambo was just too wide, so I tried the only way on the inside. When I got him, I had a little celebration in the car up to Turn 8, but it was short lived.

“I was just managing the pace because we were running out of fuel. We did a short stop to get out in front of the Audis. I’m really proud, this is my first win in North America, and the first win for this new BMW.”

After Klingmann made the pass, Bleekemolen and Babini made contact which brought the No. 33 Viper onto pit road with front-end damage. Babini, who led for more than 20 minutes, made his final pit stop shortly thereafter enabling the No. 6 Stevenson Auto Group Audi R8 LMS GT3 co-driven by Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis to move into second and the No. 48 Castrol Edge / Universal Industrial Sales Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow into third, where both would finish.