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IMSA Petit Le Mans: MSR Acura wins dramatic race, snatches title

With around 2hr15m to go, the #01 Cadillac of Chip Ganassi Racing of Sebastien Bourdais appeared to improve its chances, with the sister car of Alex Lynn falling off the track briefly just ahead before it pitted and Lynn gave up his ride to Earl Bamber. Bourdais then pitted, and CGR got his replacement Renger van der Zande out ahead of Meyer Shank Racing’s #60 Acura, in which Tom Blomqvist had replaced Helio Castroneves.

Olivier Pla also had a brief off in the #31 Action Express Cadillac but he had second place in his hands, 13sec behind Filipe Albuquerque in the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura, but being pressured heavily by Bamber.

AXR called Pla in with 1hr59m to go and installed Mike Conway. Although that moved Blomqvist up to fourth, it was very clearly not going well for MSR, since its Acura ran 26sec behind the similar car of WTR. This gap reduced to 21sec with 90mins to go, the point at which Bamber and van der Zande pitted the two Ganassi Cadillacs.

By the time Blomqvist pitted with 1hr25m to go, he had sliced his deficit to Albuquerque down to 16sec before WTR brought the #10 car in.

That elevated Bamber into the lead with 80mins to go, 7.2sec ahead of Albuquerque, with van der Zande third, 1.5 seconds behind and pressuring the black-and-blue Acura, but running 15sec ahead of the MSR Acura.

The AXR challenge appeared to have faded, with Derani, who took over the #31 from Conway, and Mike Rockenfeller in the Ally Racing-branded #48 both running a lap down.

With 70mins to go, van der Zande made it a Ganassi Cadillac 1-2 with a move on Albuquerque at Turn 6, and now Blomqvist would have a straighter shot at his championship rival, 14sec behind the WTR car. They looked evenly matched, though, and Albuquerque inched away over the next couple of laps, then the gap came down to 14sec again…

Bamber pitted from his 10sec lead with an hour to go, and van der Zande stopped next time by. This briefly promoted the Acuras to 1-2, and now Blomqvist was only 9.5sec behind, but two laps later it was 11sec.

With 50mins to go, the two Ganassi Cadillacs collided. Bamber got held up by the Korthoff Mercedes GTD car, allowing van der Zande to get a run on him on the outside approaching Turn 1, and the pair made side-by-side contact that sent them both into the gravel on the outside and into the tire wall.

That of course brought out the full course yellow, and when the Acuras pitted, Meyer Shank Racing got Blomqvist out ahead of Albuquerque, who then pitted for a second time to top up fuel without losing position.

At the restart with little more than half an hour to go, Blomqvist retained the lead from Albuquerque, and they were now being pursued by Derani. Even 5mins after the restart, only 1.4sec covered this trio. But with 22mins to go, Blomqvist had pulled out a four-second lead, while Derani had fallen four seconds off the back of the WTR Acura.

With 14mins to go, Blomqvist came under intense pressure from Albuquerque as they encountered GT traffic, but it was that very traffic that also proved the WTR car’s undoing, Albuquerque making contact with the Winward Racing Mercedes.

The car trickled slowly to the pits with a dozen minutes to go, leaving the MSR Acura with a five-second lead over Derani. Kamui Kobayashi came home third in the second AXR Cadillac, one lap down.

GTD Pro: Risi heartbreak hands win to VSR Lexus

With under two hours to go, Vasser Sullivan’s Lexus RC F led in Ben Barnicoat’s hands, keeping Matt Campbell’s Pfaff Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3 R at arm’s length before pitting and Jack Hawksworth hopped aboard to take the race to the end.

James Calado in the Risi Competizione Ferrari had knocked Antonio Garcia’s Corvette C8.R into a spin at Turn 10B but escaped any penalty and handed over to Daniel Serra who rejoined the track behind Hawksworth, Connor De Phillippi’s RLL BMW M4 and Garcia.

With 75mins to go, Hawksworth’s lead was 5.5 over De Phillippi, with Mathieu Jaminet’s Pfaff Porsche in third ahead of Serra and Garcia.

Following the last scheduled stops for the final half hour Hawksworth remained in front of Jaminet, De Phillippi, Serra and Garcia, and from the drop of the green with 32mins to go, the Lexus couldn’t shake the Porsche or the BMW.

Then with 20mins to go, De Phillippi got past the Pfaff Porsche and tried to make a move around the outside of the Lexus out of Turn 10, and Serra snuck his Risi Ferrari down the inside of both and edged the BMW into the dirt, allowing Jaminet to get past the BMW and reclaim third.

Next time by, Serra was into the lead and edging away from Hawksworth’s Lexus. That’s how the top two finished, but De Phillippi managed to pass Jaminet before the yellows ended the race.

However, the drama wasn’t over: Serra had driven 4hr11m in the last six hours, a violation of IMSA’s drive-time rules, meaning Risi Competizione was moved to the back of the lead lap.

Thus Hawskworth, Barnicoat and Kyle Kirkwood clinched victory for Vasser Sullivan Lexus, ahead of the RLL BMW and the Pfaff Porsche, as Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet took the class title by virtue of simply starting the race.

GTD: Gradient makes it double delight for Acura

With two hours to go, Sebastian Priaulx in the Inception Racing McLaren 720S held a 10sec margin over Robby Foley’s Turner Motorsport BMW M4 which was under intense pressure from Madison Snow’s similar BMW of Paul Miller Racing, Kyffin Simpson's Gradient Acura, and Marvin Dienst in the Winward Racing Mercedes AMG GT3.

With 1hr51 to go, Priaulx ducked into the pits and handed off to Jordan Pepper.A couple of laps later both BMWs pitted and Snow emerged ahead, as Turner had swapped out Foley for Bill Auberlen.

Barely 10 minutes later, disaster struck as Snow got hit by an LMP3 car and gave the M4 a right-front puncture, dropping it 65sec behind the class lead and in seventh place. It was a cruel outcome for a car that had contended for at the very least a podium place from the very start of the race.

With 75mins to go, Pepper’s McLaren remained comfortably in front, 7.5sec ahead of Mario Farnbacher, now on board the Gradient Acura, Auberlen’s BMW, Phil Ellis in the Winward Mercedes and Jan Heylen in the Wright Motorsports Porsche, although the latter was a minute off the lead.

However for the restart after the final pitstops, Farnbacher led Pepper, Ellis, Foley, Bryan Sellers in the PMR BMW, and Heylen, and the leading Acura and McLaren dropped their pursuers in the hunt for victory, while Heylen demoted Sellers.

Remarkably, Farnbacher held off Pepper for lap after lap, while the Winward Mercedes, which had made contact with the Acura prototype, went off at Turn 1 with six minutes to go, and when it couldn’t rejoin, the race went under full course yellow.

Farnbacher was still in front when the yellows flew, securing victory for himself, Simpson and Till Bechtolsheimer, so Pepper and Foley had to be content with second and third ahead of Heylen and Sellers.

Seventh in class was enough for Heart of Racing Aston Martin driver Roman de Angelis to clinch the GTD drivers' title.

In LMP2, Louis Deletraz, Rui Andrade and John Farano of Tower Motorsport clinched the win ahead of rival teams DragonSpeed and PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, giving Farano the drivers' crown.

In LMP3 Andretti Autosport won with Jarett Andretti, Gabby Chaves and Josh Burdon at the wheel ahead of Jr III Motorsports and Sean Creech Motorsport, but title honors went the way of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett of CORE autosport in fifth place.

Petit Le Mans - race results:

Cla Class Num Driver Chassis Laps Time
1 DPi 60 United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United Kingdom Tom Blomqvist
Brazil Helio Castroneves
Acura DPi 423  
2 DPi 31 France Olivier Pla
Brazil Pipo Derani
United Kingdom Mike Conway
Cadillac DPi 423 4.369
3 DPi 48 Germany Mike Rockenfeller
Japan Kamui Kobayashi
United States Jimmie Johnson
Cadillac DPi 422 1 lap
4 DPi 01 Netherlands Renger van der Zande
France Sébastien Bourdais
New Zealand Scott Dixon
Cadillac DPi 419 4 laps
5 LMP2 8 Canada John Farano
Switzerland Louis Deletraz
Portugal Rui Andrade
ORECA LMP2 07 418 5 laps
6 LMP2 81 Sweden Henrik Hedman
Colombia Juan Pablo Montoya
Colombia Sebastian Montoya
ORECA LMP2 07 418 5 laps
7 LMP2 11 United States Steven Thomas
United States Josh Pierson
United States Tristan Nunez
ORECA LMP2 07 418 5 laps
8 DPi 02 New Zealand Earl Bamber
United Kingdom Alex Lynn
United States Ryan Hunter-Reay
Cadillac DPi 418 5 laps
9 DPi 10 United States Ricky Taylor
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
New Zealand Brendon Hartley
Acura DPi 414 9 laps
10 LMP2 20 Denmark Dennis Andersen
Denmark Anders Fjordbach
Switzerland Fabio Scherer
ORECA LMP2 07 414 9 laps
11 LMP3 36 United States Jarett Andretti
Colombia Gabby Chaves
Josh Burdon
Ligier JS P320 401 22 laps
12 LMP3 30 United States Ari Balogh
Canada Garett Grist
Nolan Siegel
Ligier JS P320 401 22 laps
13 LMP3 33 Portugal Joao Barbosa
Malthe Jakobsen
Nicolas Pino
Ligier JS P320 401 22 laps
14 LMP3 74 United States Gar Robinson
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Netherlands Kay van Berlo
Ligier JS P320 400 23 laps
15 LMP3 54 United States Jon Bennett
United States Colin Braun
United States George Kurtz
Ligier JS P320 399 24 laps
16 LMP3 76 Canada Anthony Mantella
Canada Kyle Marcelli
Josh Sarchet
Duqueine D08 397 26 laps
17 LMP3 13 Canada Orey Fidani
United Kingdom Matthew Bell
Germany Lars Kern
Duqueine D08 395 28 laps
18 GTD 66 Kyffin Simpson
United States Till Bechtolsheimer
Germany Mario Farnbacher
Acura NSX GT3 387 36 laps
19 GTD 70 United States Brendan Iribe
South Africa Jordan Lee Pepper
United Kingdom Sebastian Priaulx
McLaren 720S GT3 387 36 laps
20 GTD 96 United States Robby Foley
United States Bill Auberlen
Michael Dinan
BMW M4 GT3 386 37 laps
21 GTD 16 United States Ryan Hardwick
Canada Zacharie Robichon
Belgium Jan Heylen
Porsche 911 GT3 R 386 37 laps
22 GTD 1 United States Bryan Sellers
United States Madison Snow
Sweden Erik Johansson
BMW M4 GT3 386 37 laps
23 GTD PRO 62 Brazil Daniel Serra
Italy Davide Rigon
United Kingdom James Calado
Ferrari 488 GT3 386 37 laps
24 GTD PRO 14 United Kingdom Jack Hawksworth
United Kingdom Ben Barnicoat
United States Kyle Kirkwood
Lexus RC F GT3 386 37 laps
25 GTD PRO 25 United States Connor de Phillippi
United States John Edwards
Finland Jesse Krohn
BMW M4 GT3 386 37 laps
26 GTD PRO 9 Australia Matt Campbell
France Mathieu Jaminet
Brazil Felipe Nasr
Porsche 911 GT3 R 386 37 laps
27 GTD PRO 23 United Kingdom Ross Gunn
Spain Alex Riberas
United Kingdom Tom Gamble
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 386 37 laps
28 GTD PRO 3 Spain Antonio Garcia
United States Jordan Taylor
Netherlands Nick Catsburg
Corvette C8.R GTD 386 37 laps
29 GTD 32 United States Mike Skeen
United Kingdom Stevan McAleer
Germany Dirk Muller
Mercedes AMG GT3 385 38 laps
30 GTD 27 Canada Roman De Angelis
Belgium Maxime Martin
United Kingdom Ian James
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 385 38 laps
31 GTD 21 France Simon Mann
Argentina Luis Perez Companc
Finland Toni Vilander
Ferrari 488 GT3 385 38 laps
32 GTD PRO 79 Germany Maximilian Buhk
Canada Mikael Grenier
Maximillian Goetz
Mercedes AMG GT3 385 38 laps
33 GTD 42 United States Jaden Conwright
Marco Holzer
United States Don Yount
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 385 38 laps
34 GTD 47 Italy Roberto Lacorte
Italy Giorgio Sernagiotto
Ulysse De
Ferrari 488 GT3 384 39 laps
35 GTD 57 United States Russell Ward
Switzerland Philip Ellis
Germany Marvin Dienst
Mercedes AMG GT3 383 40 laps
36 LMP3 38 Daniel Goldburg
Australia Cameron Shields
Tyler Maxson
Ligier JS P320 355 68 laps
37 GTD 99 United States Rob Ferriol
United Kingdom Katherine Legge
United States Nicholas Boulle
Porsche 911 GT3 R 264 159 laps
38 LMP2 18 United States Dwight Merriman
United Kingdom Ryan Dalziel
Christian Rasmussen
ORECA LMP2 07 249 174 laps
39 DPi 5 France Tristan Vautier
United Kingdom Richard Westbrook
France Loic Duval
Cadillac DPi 170 253 laps
40 GTD 12 United States Frankie Montecalvo
United States Aaron Telitz
United States Richard Heistand
Lexus RC F GT3 158 265 laps
41 LMP2 52 United States Ben Keating
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
United States Scott Huffaker
ORECA LMP2 07 102 321 laps
42 GTD 44 United States John Potter
United States Andy Lally
United States Spencer Pumpelly
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 62 361 laps
43 GTD 39 United States Robert Megennis
United States Corey Lewis
United States Jeff Westphal
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 22 401 laps
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