TDS overcomes issues to take LMP2 win


Sometimes, two wrongs can make a right. TDS Racing made it work out to capture the team’s first WeatherTech Championship victory in Sunday’s Le Mans Prototype 2 (LMP2) portion of the Motul Course de Monterey.

Steven Thomas and Mikkel Jensen overcame a pair of pit stop miscues in the No. 11 ORECA LMP2 07 to win and take the LMP2 championship lead in the process. They finished 5.095 seconds ahead of Ben Keating and Paul-Loup Chatin in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA, but not without drama leading to the checkered flag.

“It shows what IMSA is; it’s never finished,” Jensen said. “I was shouting on the radio when we were in seventh (place), I thought it’s over. The team told me to stay calm and just do my job, and all of a sudden I was in first. … It was a crazy race for us.”

Running third when a full-course caution came out 20 minutes into the race, Thomas lost track position when he entered pit lane before it was open. He escaped penalty by driving through without stopping but the No. 11 lost valuable track position.

Another pit-stop miscommunication during the final caution set the No. 11 back again. Jensen was the LMP2 leader but didn’t come to the pits when they were first opened for prototypes. Forced to stop two laps later, Jensen sat seventh in class when racing resumed with 41 minutes remaining.

The Dutchman’s charge to the front was aided when three LMP2 cars ahead had to serve drive-through penalties for various pit-lane infringements. He punctuated a race-long battle of car-to-car contact by muscling the No. 11 past Keating’s No. 52 and Ben Hanley’s No. 04 Crowdstrike Racing by APR ORECA on the same lap with 25 minutes to go. From there, Jensen pulled away to earn his seventh WeatherTech Championship win and second at WeatherTech Raceway.

“There was just fights going on and you had to go for the gap when it was there,” Jensen said. “It’s a sprint race, you don’t have a huge amount of time to do your job, so every time you see a gap, you go for it. It worked out well today.”

Thomas picked up his second career win. The 55-year-old said he was in awe watching Jensen carve his way through the field to the finish.

“It’s a wonderful feeling,” he said. “We had a good car and I tried to hold it on the track. We put this guy (Jensen) in and he drove through the entire field. I mean, he drove through the entire field to win the race! It’s one of the best things I’ve ever seen on a racetrack.”