IMSA: Corvette takes their 100th win at Lime Rock


The small but exciting Lime Rock track hosted three of the four IMSA classes and it was a major win for Corvette – their 100th. Photos: Andrew Henderson
Andrew Henderson - -9


Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin gave Corvette Racing its 100th sports car racing victory and led the team’s 60th 1-2 sweep in Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.

It was the third victory of the 2016 WeatherTech Championship season for the co-drivers of the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R and the first since back-to-back GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida. The victory enabled Milner and Gavin to extend their lead in the GTLM standings to 10 points, 228-218, over No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT co-drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, who saw their three-race GTLM win streak come to an end with a third-place run.


The two-hour, 40-minute race was a hotly contested battle virtually throughout the GTLM class, with all five competing manufacturers running inside the top three at one point or another in the race. The battle came down to Ferrari vs. Chevrolet vs. Ford, as Giancarlo Fisichella led the way with an hour remaining in the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE ahead of Gavin in the No. 4 Corvette and Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford.

With just over 30 minutes left in the race, Fisichella lost traction and ran off course exiting Lime Rock’s famed “Big Bend” Turn 1-2 complex, opening the door for Gavin to move into the lead. Four laps later, Fisichella again ran wide exiting Turn 2 allowing Briscoe and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette to move into second and third.

With 20 minutes remaining, Garcia took second place away from Briscoe but he would not challenge Gavin over the remaining distance, finishing 0.975 seconds behind his teammate to preserve the team’s sweep of the top-two positions.

“Brilliant job by the Corvette Racing team giving me a great car today and Tommy for driving a great first stint,” Gavin said. “Brilliant day all around. We extended our lead in the championship, so it’s all good. It’s amazing to get the 100th win today. I’ve been a part of the Corvette Racing team for a long time, and this team has done an amazing job throughout my career. I just have to thank them and my great teammates.”

“Racing here at Lime Rock is always tough with all the traffic,” Milner added. “Fortunately, it seemed like there was just enough separation between the three classes in certain spots to really allow some passing to happen. For sure, I was frustrated at some points, and others were frustrated as well, but we all seemed to manage to make it through. There were a couple of guys racing super hard. I knew the race was going to get that way.”

Garcia was joined by Jan Magnussen for the runner-up result for the No. 3 Corvette C7.R team, which unofficially moved them into third in the GTLM standings. Briscoe and Westbrook picked up their fourth consecutive GTLM podium result with the third-place run.



Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande teamed up on a hot and busy day at Lime Rock Park to score their third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech Northeast Grand Prix.

Popow, driving the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09, started fifth and nearly sustained damage in an incident at the start, but was able to fight his way to the lead 33 minutes into the race after the first round of pit stops under caution. He led the next 30 laps before turning the car over to van der Zande, who took the lead with one hour, five minutes remaining, and led the rest of the way in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class.

“I’m very happy with the win, it’s another advantage for the championship,” said van der Zande, who joined Popow in winning for the third time in four races. “Lime Rock is a crazy place, because it’s a small track and you’re always wrestling your way through the traffic. It’s a fair fight here, because you can easily lose position coming through traffic. I love coming to Lime Rock, and I’m very happy with my team.”

Tom Kimber-Smith came up just 0.815 seconds short of repeating at Lime Rock in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Professional Security Consultants/Westfield Motorsports ORECA. Robert Alon led twice for extended periods during his double stint, losing the lead on a pair of pit stops. Kimber-Smith took over with one hour, four minutes remaining, and ran second behind van der Zande the rest of the way.

“I really got held up in a lot of traffic,” said Kimber-Smith, a resident of nearby Pleasant Valley, New York who scored his sixth podium finish of the season. “That gave Renger a gap. Then I was able to pull back from a 14-second deficit. But Renger had a good race, and he had a fast car. This year we seem to be quite quick, but just not reaching the top step of the podium enough.”

James French and Kyle Marcelli finished third in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA.

Unofficially, van der Zande and Popow increased their lead in the PC standings to 17 points over Alon and Kimber-Smith, 267-250.



Andy Lally passed Jeroen Bleekemolen with 22 minutes remaining and went on to score his second GT Daytona (GTD) victory of the season in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi Tire Center/Auric Solar Audi R8 LMS GT3 started by John Potter. Seventh with one hour remaining, Lally worked his way to the front in a tight battle that saw the top seven cars separated by only two seconds.

“That was one of the most fun but frustrating drives of my life,” said Lally, who led the final 20 laps. “You have to make picks and pass on the outside to make that work. Really, it’s so special because these guys worked so hard after the wreck at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. We talked about putting a special setup for Lime Rock to make this thing turn right. We planned for the end of the stint to be loose. We dialed like 80 degrees of wing into this thing and stuck a billboard on the back and it stuck, and that’s what let us come through with the win there.”

Robin Liddell took second in the No. 6 Stevenson Auto Group Audi LMS GT3 started by Andrew Davis, followed by Bleekemolen and Ben Keating in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports with the Monkey Dodge Viper GT3-R.

“I was leading, but I think we had the slowest car out there today,” Bleekemolen admitted. “It was difficult to hang on to. I got hit a few times, but we were still able to finish third. That’s an amazing job by the team, to get us this far up, and a great drive by Ben. Absolutely the maximum we could do.”

Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finished 11th in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3. Entering the event with a 22-point lead in the class, they now unofficially sit ahead of Potter and Lally by 13 points, 212-199.