Close Battles as Woods and Ely Take Utah Victories in Pirelli Trophy West 

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Close Battles as Woods and Ely Take Utah Victories in Pirelli Trophy West

Calvert (Diamond Masters), McAlister (Platinum), and Bellomo (Silver) also take victories in Pirelli Trophy West USA Race Six

Photos: Porsche Design Huawei Mate 10

5b8b9511-e87b-4490-b22a-ea671445d115.jpgSalt Lake City, Utah (6 May 2018) – On a picture-perfect warm and sunny day at Utah Motorsports Campus, Kevin Woods and Laura Ely each took overall victories in the hotly-contested Race 6 of the Pirelli Trophy West USA.

It was a well-populated and competitive paddock as 27 Porsche GT3 and GT4 Cup Cars in five different classes contested the second of two races this weekend on the 3.048-mile, 15-turn outer road course located near Tooele, Utah: Diamond and Diamond Masters (2017-2018 991.2 GT3 Cup), Platinum (2015-16 991.1 GT3 Cup), Silver (Cayman Clubsport GT4 MR) and Bronze (2016 Cayman Clubsport GT4 Trophy) classes.

The classes were split into two races, with Diamond, Diamond Masters and Platinum (GT3 Cup) in the first race and Silver and Bronze classes (GT4) in the second.

035af53c-f00d-4db6-af85-592f4dc48efb.jpgThe GT3 field brought the heat from the drop of the green flag, bunching up four-wide toward Turn 1 before sorting themselves out nicely through the tight left-hander. Woods held a slim lead in his No. 94 Mothers Polish/TruSpeed Autosport Porsche over Loren Beggs but could not shake the 911 Design driver until Lap 17, when Beggs spun in Turn 5. Woods maintained his composure to take his fourth victory of the season, with Beggs second.

Behind the race front-runners, Diamond Masters class leaders (and Competition Motorsports teammates) Preston Calvert and Michael Zuieback battled throughout the 19-lap, 40-minute flag-to-flag race with the class win and the final overall podium position on the line.

90148858-113a-4bf2-bcb5-990d79ef5dac.jpgZuieback gave Calvert several hard looks, but Calvert held him off for his first class victory of the season. Sean McAlister, driving the No. 00 Competition Motorsports, took his sixth straight Platinum class victory after a race-long clash among the Diamond class competitors.

“This was a very similar race to yesterday, although my car was a bit looser than yesterday,” said Woods. “It was a tough race, I just had to keep my head down, focus, and not make any mistakes. I had mixed emotions when Loren spun, because it’s always good to have a full, competitive race, but at the same time, there was a sigh of relief. He was pushing hard!”

“The whole storyline of this series for me has been competing with all the other drivers in both the Diamond and Diamond Masters class, but especially with Michael (Zuieback),” said Calvert. “He is such a good driver and I had to measure myself against his abilities. We went back and forth all race long, never hitting each other. He’s won every race this season so finally I get to replace him on the top spot of the podium!”57ce89c5-ffd1-4e39-b920-5a1b3f053be9.jpg

“I was able to keep up with the Diamond class guys early in the race, making up time in the corners,” said McAlister. “Later in the race, they were making up so much time on the straights that I couldn’t catch up in the corners any longer. But that’s what I was expecting, so given the fact that I did better in qualifying, I was happy. I held my position against those guys, checking to see how I was doing against the drivers in front and behind me on each lap.”

While not having the sheer numbers of the GT3 classes, the GT4 race made up for it with added excitement and close competition.

b5499277-33e4-4f74-a09f-f1c1c4aedf92.jpgBlack Sheep Racing’s Laura Ely started alongside Chris Bellomo (The Racer’s Group) and the pair held that side-by-side battle through a heart-stopping five corners, with Ely taking the position in Turn 5 as Bellomo fell back into the clutches of Alessandro Chiocchetti. The pair tangled, bringing out the full course caution. When the race returned to green, Bellomo raced up from fourth to second behind Ely, chipping away at her lead for a photo finish at the line. Ely took the Bronze victory, with Bellomo taking the Silver class.bba51b3f-4893-4331-90cb-afcca4519603.jpg

“I was hoping to get a good run on Chris at the start – and I did, but then I was on the outside in the marbles,” said Ely. “I thought he was still next to me in Turn 5, but he wasn’t. I made a bobble that let Chris (Bellomo) back in to it toward the end, but I always had a good run on the front stretch and held my advantage. It was fun!”

“That was a really fun start,” said Bellomo. “Laura’s really talented and seasoned, and it’s a pleasure to race against her. I’m sorry we couldn’t keep that up through the whole race, but it was a good battle right there at the end. I’m not sure what happened with Alessandro: I was next to Laura and saw him coming in, but I was already making my turn when we made contact.”

Competent Motorsport President Greg Franz credits the entire paddock – series staff, teams and drivers – for the success of the four-race weekend in Utah.

“I really have to attribute the success of this weekend to two factors,” said Franz. “It comes down to our staff, and their preparation prior to the event, and to the teams and drivers, who really wanted to put on a quality show not only for their friends and the spectators, but for themselves as well. We’ve enjoyed races that had limited contact, and that gives our drivers more track time and less time having to work on their cars. We’ve carried that momentum from the first races of the season and we’ll carry that through next month, when we’ll be at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Willows, California.”

The Pirelli Trophy West USA will be back in action next month, with two races June 8-10 at Thunderhill Raceway Park in Northern California.

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IMSA Wire: Porsche Shines In WeatherTech Championship Return To Mid-Ohio

For Immediate Release
Porsche Shines In WeatherTech Championship Return To Mid-Ohio
Lexus Scores Historic First North American Victory for the RC F GT3

May 6, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

Provisional Results
Provisional Standings

LEXINGTON, Ohio – Sunday was Porsche’s day at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

After the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy went from second to the lead on the race’s opening lap – and subsequently led the race’s first 55 minutes – it was the driver of the No. 912 Porsche entry, Earl Bamber, who later assumed the lead with 90 minutes remaining in the two-hour, 40-minute race. With co-driver Laurens Vanthoor, Bamber never looked back, only losing the lead on a series of green flag pit stops to win the Acura Sports Car Challenge by 1.673 seconds.

In total, Porsche led 90 of the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class’ 118 laps on the day.

“We had really smart strategy that gave us the lead at the pit stop,” said Vanthoor, who picked up his first career IMSA win. “It gave us a good gap, but I had to try and control it a bit with the tires. I knew the guys behind me wanted to catch me, but I didn’t want to destroy my tires too much, which isn’t easy. It was a very stressful one and a half hours. I was happy when it was done and finally we won.

“I had to wait one-and-a-half years to get my first win. We’ve had some opportunities as well, but it always went wrong for some reason. Finally, it worked out and it’s a huge relief.”

It was Porsche’s second win in four IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM class starts this season, with the No. 911 of full-time drivers Tandy and Patrick Pilet joining Frédéric Makowiecki in a victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March.

While Porsche won the race, the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi certainly made it interesting.

De Phillippi’s team utilized a different pit strategy that saw him lead late, before giving way to Vanthoor for good with 33 minutes remaining. He made a late charge in the closing laps, but ultimately finished second alongside co-driver Alexander Sims, matching the duo’s best finish of the season.

As is typical in the ultra-competitive GTLM class, four different manufacturers made up the top four positions with the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen rounding out the podium, and the No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller finishing fourth.

All eight cars in the class finished on the lead lap.

“This was a two-hour, 40-minute race and I think the top six or seven cars were covered by 28 seconds by the end of the race,” said Bamber. “I think that shows how great the BoP is and how great IMSA is doing. You can’t make a little mistake or you’re at the back. But that’s why we’re here, to race the best and make it a tight fight and we love it.”

Lexus Scores Historic First North American Victory for the RC F GT3

Lexus put forth the dominating performance it had been dreaming of since entering the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class in 2017 Sunday at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

It was just a matter of which of the two Lexus RC F GT3s was going to pull off the feat.

Saturday afternoon, Jack Hawksworth in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 scored the manufacturer’s second WeatherTech Championship Motul Pole Award. While the drivers of the team’s other entry – Kyle Marcelli and Daniel Baumann in the No. 14 Lexus completed the 1-2 sweep of qualifying.

At the end of Sunday’s race, it was Marcelli and Baumann on the top of the podium after dominating the second half of the two-hour, 40-minute Acura Sports Car Challenge to deliver the historic first North American victory for the Lexus RC F GT3.

“This is a huge win,” said Marcelli, who also won overall in yesterday’s IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Mid-Ohio 120. “It’s always difficult to get the first one. There is always a lot of pressure. I think I put a lot of pressure on myself. This is the first sprint race of the season and I knew we had a strong car and a strong driver line-up and we needed to execute. I knew if we didn’t make a mistake then we should get a good result.

“It’s a team effort, the 3GT guys have worked so hard for two years. It’s the second year of the program, so it’s an honor to bring them the first win for 3GT and Lexus. (Going to Detroit), I guess you could say it’s a home race for the team, so again we’re probably going to put a lot of extra pressure on ourselves to go ahead and execute.”

Between the two Lexus racecars, 3GT Racing led every lap of Sunday afternoon’s race. Hawksworth and co-driver David Heinemeier Hansson led the first 43 laps and ultimately finished fourth, which also bested Lexus’ prior best finish of fifth up until Mid-Ohio.

However, the win wasn’t without it’s drama.

Alvaro Parente in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 looked to deliver heartbreak for Lexus and a victory for the race’s entitlement manufacturer, at one point pulling within inches of Baumann on the final lap of the race. Baumann was able to hold off the charge, leaving Parente and co-driver Katherine Legge with a runner-up GTD finish for Acura.

“I felt the pressure coming with 15 minutes to the end,” said Baumann “We struggled a little a bit with the used tires in the second half of the stint. I think one more lap and he would have passed me for sure. I was happy when I saw the white flag – one more lap – he closed in so quick and I just tried to defend with everything I’ve got. (The first win), it’s a great feeling.”

Rounding out the podium were Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts winners Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow in the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3, who increased their lead in the championship to eight points following their third consecutive podium.

The next race for the WeatherTech Championship GTD class will be the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park in Detroit on June 1 – 2. Tickets are available at detroitgp.com.

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IMSA Wire: Castroneves, Taylor Deliver First Acura DPi Win in 1-2 Acura Team Penske Sweep at Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio

For Immediate Release
Castroneves, Taylor Deliver First Acura DPi Win in 1-2 Acura Team Penske Sweep at Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio

May 6, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

Provisional Results
Provisional Standings

LEXINGTON, Ohio – The Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio was all about Acura Team Penske from the first practice session of the weekend on Friday through the checkered flag on Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.

Every pre-race practice session ended with both of the team’s Acura ARX-05 Daytona Prototype international (DPi) cars sitting 1-2 on the time charts. In Saturday’s qualifying session, Helio Castroneves took the Motul Pole Award in the No. 7 Acura DPi, nipping teammate Dane Cameron in the No. 6 entry, who wound up second on the starting grid.

And one Acura Team Penske DPi or the other led every one of the 125 laps completed in Sunday’s race. In the end, Castroneves and co-driver Ricky Taylor were the ones to deliver the first WeatherTech Championship victory for Acura Team Penske, as Taylor crossed the stripe 8.464 seconds ahead of Cameron’s No. 6 co-driver, Juan Pablo Montoya, to score a 1-2 sweep for the team.

“I’m driving with one of the best organizations in the world, one of the best manufacturers in the world,” Taylor said. “We visited Acura’s factory for the NSX on Thursday and really got to see all that goes into these beautiful cars, and it really gives you a good sense of pride.

“On top of that, to win for the first time back for Mr. Penske is outstanding and to start the month of May off for Helio with a win is awesome. There was so much pressure to get the car from him in the lead. He did an awesome job, so I had to fight to make his efforts worth it.”

It was Taylor’s first WeatherTech Championship win since taking the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit last June alongside his brother, Jordan Taylor, in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. It was the brothers’ last of five consecutive wins together en route to the 2017 Prototype championship.

It was Team Penske’s first IMSA win in nearly 10 years, the last one coming at Utah Motorsports Campus near Salt Lake City, Utah, when Timo Bernhard and Romain Dumas won in the No. 7 Porsche RS Spyder. It was the first IMSA win for an Acura-branded prototype since the end of the 2009 season, when Gil de Ferran and Simon Pagenaud won at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in an Acura ARX-02 LMP1 car.

And it was Castroneves’ first IMSA win since taking the LMP2 class win in the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on Oct. 4, 2008. That win came alongside Ryan Briscoe, who co-drove to a fifth-place finish in the GT Le Mans class on Sunday with Richard Westbrook in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.

“That was great,” Castroneves said. “It started from the beginning, actually the front row, the No. 7 and the No. 6 were right there. Dane was really strong and put a lot of pressure on me, but in the end, it was a long race. I was taking it easy and making sure we made the numbers that we needed to make, and then I left it to my teammate here, Ricky, and what an incredible job he did.

“Not only making room and trying to find places around the track to pass people and keep cool, which that’s the toughest part. I was biting my nails back there, but in the end of the day, he brought it home in phenomenal style. I’m so glad to be part of this organization, it’s great for myself and Ricky to give the No. 1 victory for Acura and hopefully this is just the beginning.”

Castroneves and Taylor combined to lead a race-high 87 laps. The other 38 laps were led by Cameron and Montoya in the No. 7 Acura. It was the second time this season that a Prototype team scored a 1-2 sweep, with the other coming in January’s Rolex 24 At Daytona when Action Express Racing went 1-2 with its No. 5 and No. 31 Cadillacs.

While Acura Team Penske was dominant throughout the weekend, they did face down a stiff challenge from both Mazda Team Joest DPis to earn the victory. Both the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P of Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot and the No. 77 of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez challenged the pair of Acura DPis throughout the first half of the race.

The No. 55 car’s bid for the victory came to an end shortly after Pigot took over in the seat just past the halfway point in the race when the car’s suspension was damaged in side-to-side contact with a GT car. Nunez, however, kept up the fight and brought the No. 77 Mazda home in third place.

It was the first podium result for the new-for-2018 Mazda Team Joest operation and was the first Prototype podium for Mazda since a third-place run in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen last June.

Prototype points leaders Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa finished fourth in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R. Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande completed the top five in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R.

The entire race was run without a full-course caution.

Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic in Detroit on Saturday, June 2. The 100-minute race will feature the Prototype and GT Daytona classes only. Tickets are available now at DetroitGP.com.

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Barbosa Going for Two in a Row at Mid-Ohio, Five Years Apart

For Immediate Release
Barbosa Going for Two in a Row at Mid-Ohio, Five Years Apart

May 1, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R driver Joao Barbosa will be looking to continue two different winning streaks when the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship returns to action this Sunday in the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.

The two-hour, 40-minute race marks the return of IMSA competition to the historic Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio for the first time since a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race in 2013. Sunday’s race will be televised live on FS2 beginning at 1 p.m. ET, with live IMSA Radio coverage also available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

When the green flag drops, Barbosa will not only be looking for his second consecutive WeatherTech Championship victory and third in four races this season alongside co-driver Filipe Albuquerque. He also will be looking for his second straight Mid-Ohio win, after taking the GRAND-AM win in 2013 alongside Christian Fittipaldi, his and Albuquerque’s Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup teammate and current Action Express Racing sporting director.

“I’m really looking forward to going to Mid-Ohio,” Barbosa said. “It’s a great racetrack. Obviously, it was a shame when the track got out of the schedule. I think a lot of drivers really like to go there. It’s a place with a lot of history. It’s very technical.

“It’s really, really good to go there, especially with these new cars. It should be really fast there. I’m excited to go back to Mid-Ohio this year.”

As will be the case at a majority of events this season, Albuquerque’s first as a full-time driver in the WeatherTech Championship, this weekend will mark the Portuguese driver’s first visit to Mid-Ohio. That seemed to work out okay for him in the most recent WeatherTech Championship race, the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach on April 14, which he and Barbosa won.

His approach heading into this weekend’s race will be similar.

“Joao and Christian and the team tell me all about it, that it’s a great track,” said Albuquerque, who also opened the year with a victory in the Rolex 24 At Daytona alongside his No. 5 teammates. “Doing IMSA, I know there are many nice tracks around and I’m super happy to be doing this championship to know these tracks.

“I’m going to do some laps on a simulator. Obviously, it helps like it did to come [to Long Beach]. I have a great team to support me and to tell me what I should do and to be aware of critical points on the track.”

Barbosa is expecting close racing and tough competition on the 2.238-mile, 13-turn road course.

“It’s going to be very challenging, especially with all the different classes and a lot of cars on a pretty narrow track,” Barbosa said. “There’s not a lot of room to overtake, so the GT traffic is going to play a key role in how we’re going to manage traffic and how the race is going to go.

“It’s going to be very challenging because of that. I think it might decide the race, the way different cars manage the traffic. Historically, the GT guys don’t give you a lot of room. At Mid-Ohio, it’s very easy to block, so it’s going to make for an interesting race, for sure.”

Along with working on extending their winning streak, Barbosa and Albuquerque also will be looking to extend their lead in the WeatherTech Championship point standings. With three races in the books and seven more to go, they lead their AXR teammates, Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr, by five points, 91-86.

“It’s important to be consistent and to get as many points as possible,” Barbosa said. “We know it’s not going to be easy for the rest of the year. Competition is very strong in every race. It’s not because we’ve won two races that we think we’re going to win the rest.

“We’re still working as hard as we did before winning the races. The plan is to win more races, but we have to keep working as hard and harder to keep up with the competition and to make sure we can win more races in the future.”

The future starts Sunday. Tickets are available now at MidOhio.com.

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IMSA Wire: Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio – Entry List Notebook

For Immediate Release
Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio – Entry List Notebook

April 25, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will make its first visit to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, marking IMSA’s first appearance at the circuit since a GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series event in 2013, for the two-hour and 40-minute Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio on Sunday, May 6.

The race features a 35-car entry list across three WeatherTech Championship classes, Prototype (P) with 14 entries, GT Le Mans (GTLM) with eight, and GT Daytona (GTD) – which returns to action after sitting out last month’s BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach – with 13 entries.

FS2 will have live television coverage of the race beginning at 1 p.m. ET. Live IMSA Radio coverage is available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and via SiriusXM Radio. Tickets are available now at MidOhio.com.

The provisional WeatherTech Championship entry list can be viewed here.

*Notes:

– Of the 70 drivers on the entry list, 16 of them have won at least one IMSA race at Mid-Ohio, despite a five-year gap since the last IMSA race at the venue. Each of the three class-leading cars in the WeatherTech Championship point standings has one driver in the lineup with a previous Mid-Ohio win.

– The Prototype class-leading No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R lineup includes Joao Barbosa, who won the last IMSA (GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series) race at Mid-Ohio in 2013 in an Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Barbosa and his current No. 5 co-driver, Filipe Albuquerque, have won two of this season’s first three races, the season-opening Rolex 24 At Daytona in January and at Long Beach earlier this month.

– In the GTLM class, the points-leading No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT includes driver Richard Westbrook, who won in the GRAND-AM DP class and overall at Mid-Ohio in 2012 in a Spirit of Daytona Racing Corvette DP. Westbrook and his No. 67 co-driver Ryan Briscoe won in GTLM at Daytona this year and earned their second podium result of the season with a second-place result in Long Beach.

– The GTD points-leading No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 includes driver Bryan Sellers, who took an American Le Mans Series (ALMS) GT class win in 2011. So far in 2018, Sellers and co-driver Madison Snow finished third at Daytona and won the GTD class in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts last month. And while he hasn’t won at Mid-Ohio yet, Snow’s mother and father, Melanie and Martin Snow, won the ALMS Challenge class at the track in 2009.

– No. 4 Corvette Racing driver Oliver Gavin and No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 driver Bill Auberlen are the winningest active IMSA drivers at Mid-Ohio with four wins each.

– Gavin is looking for his second consecutive WeatherTech Championship victory after winning at Long Beach alongside No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driver Tommy Milner earlier this month. Milner also owns one previous Mid-Ohio victory, which came with Gavin in the ALMS GT class in 2012.

– After racing in the GTLM class the past several years with BMW Team RLL, Auberlen is returning to a team with which he’s had considerable success, Turner Motorsport, which fields the No. 96 BMW in the GTD class. Auberlen – who will co-drive at Mid-Ohio with 2017 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Grand Sport (GS) champion Dillon Machavern – has earned three of his four Mid-Ohio wins with the Turner team, taking GRAND-AM GT class wins in 2010, 2012 and 2013. Machavern is another driver with an IMSA race-winning parent at Mid-Ohio. His father, Dave Machavern, won in the GRAND-AM GTS class in 2003.

– Among drivers in the Prototype class, Johannes van Overbeek has the most previous wins at Mid-Ohio with three, the most recent coming in the ALMS GT2 class in 2007. Van Overbeek and his No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM co-driver, Pipo Derani, are looking for their second victory of the 2018 season after winning the Prototype class and overall at Sebring last month. The Sebring win was the second for both drivers.

– Another driver with three previous IMSA wins at Mid-Ohio is Wolf Henzler. The German driver will make his first WeatherTech Championship start since the 2017 event at Circuit of The Americas, sharing the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R with Michael Schein in the GTD class. Henzler’s most recent Mid-Ohio win came alongside Sellers in a Team Falken Tire Porsche in the ALMS GT class in 2011.

– Corvette Racing is the winningest active IMSA team at Mid-Ohio with a total of eight victories. Three of the four drivers in the team’s current lineup, Gavin, Milner and No. 3 Corvette driver Jan Magnussen, have previous Mid-Ohio wins. Magnussen will be looking for his third Mid-Ohio victory alongside co-driver Antonio Garcia, who has yet to win at the venue.

– Four of the eight cars in the GTLM class have drivers with previous Mid-Ohio victories, including the aforementioned No. 67 Ford GT and the Nos. 3 and 4 Corvette. Both of the No. 66 Ford GT co-drivers also have won previously at the venue. Dirk Mueller won the ALMS GT2 class in 2008, while Joey Hand won the GRAND-AM GT class in 2010 alongside Auberlen. Hand also managed to avoid injury in a spectacular, end-over-end crash in the 2006 GRAND-AM race at Mid-Ohio.

– Porsche is the winningest manufacturer at Mid-Ohio with 22 victories since 2000, leading its next-closest competitor, Chevrolet, by eight victories. Ten of the 13 participating manufacturers in this year’s race have won previously at Mid-Ohio.

Previous Mid-Ohio Race-Winning Drivers in 2018 Field (16)
Oliver Gavin – (4) GRAND-AM SRP/Overall – 2001 ALMS GT1 – 2006, 2007, ALMS GT – 2012
Bill Auberlen – (4) GRAND-AM GT – 2004, 2010, 2012, 2013
Johannes van Overbeek (3) ALMS GT – 2004, ALMS GT2 – 2006, 2007
Wolf Henzler – (3) ALMS GT2 – 2006, GRAND-AM GT – 2006, ALMS GT – 2011
Jan Magnussen – (2) ALMS LMP900/Overall – 2001, ALMS GT1 – 2008
Andy Lally – (2) GRAND-AM SRPII – 2001, GRAND-AM GT – 2007
Jeroen Bleekemolen – (2) ALMS GTC – 2010, 2012
Justin Marks – (1) GRAND-AM GT – 2004
Dirk Mueller – (1) ALMS GT2 – 2008
Patrick Long – (1) ALMS GT2 – 2009
Joey Hand – (1) GRAND-AM GT – 2010
Ryan Dalziel – (1) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2011
Bryan Sellers – (1) ALMS GT – 2011
Tommy Milner – (1) ALMS GT – 2012
Richard Westbrook – (1) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2012
Joao Barbosa (1) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2013

Previous Mid-Ohio Pole Winners in 2018 Field (10)
Oliver Gavin – (3) ALMS GTS – 2004, ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2007
Patrick Long – (2) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2006, ALMS GT2 – 2006
Jordan Taylor – (2) GRAND-AM GT – 2010, GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2013
John Edwards – (2) GRAND-AM GT – 2012, 2013
Andy Lally – (1) GRAND-AM SRPII – 2001
Bill Auberlen – (1) GRAND-AM GT – 2004
Justin Marks – (1) GRAND-AM GT – 2005
Lawson Aschenbach – (1) GRAND-AM GT – 2008
Jeroen Bleekemolen – (1) ALMS GTC – 2010
Joey Hand – (1) ALMS GT – 2011

Previous Mid-Ohio Race-Winning Teams in 2018 Field (7)
Corvette Racing – (8) ALMS GTS – 2001, 2002, 2004; ALMS GT1 – 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008; ALMS GT – 2012
Acura Team Penske – (3) ALMS LMP2/Overall – 2006, 2007; ALMS LMP2 – 2008
Chip Ganassi Racing – (3) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2004, 2009, 2010
Turner Motorsport – (3) GRAND-AM GT – 2010, 2012, 2013
AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports – (1) ALMS PC – 2012
Action Express Racing – (1) GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2013
Spirit of Daytona Racing – (2) GRAND-AM AGT – 2000, GRAND-AM DP/Overall – 2012

Previous Mid-Ohio Race-Winning Manufacturers in 2018 Field (Since 2000)
Porsche – 22
Chevrolet – 14
BMW – 8
Audi – 5
Lexus – 3
Mazda – 3
Acura – 2
Ferrari – 2
Ford – 2
Nissan – 2

*All statistics are taken from GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series

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IMSA Wire: Estep Leads Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Back to Barber

For Immediate Release
Estep Leads Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA
by Yokohama Back to Barber

April 18, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – After a victory and a runner-up result in last month’s season-opening doubleheader at Sebring International Raceway, 18-year-old driver Trenton Estep leads a 24-car Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama field to Barber Motorsports Park this weekend for Rounds 3 and 4 of the 16-race 2018 season.

Estep won the season-opening race on Thursday, March 15 in the No. 3 JDX Racing Porsche 911, taking the lead from Roman De Angelis nine laps into what would be a 20-lap race before the 45-minute time limit ran out. In the second race the following morning, Estep took the lead again from De Angelis with three to go, but he and the Canadian tangled in the 17th and final turn on the 3.74-mile circuit on the race’s last lap, forcing both cars to spin and giving Will Hardeman his first series victory.

Nevertheless, the youngster from San Antonio, Texas recovered to finish second and leave Sebring with the points lead in the Platinum Cup point standings for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup race cars built in the last two years. Estep is four points ahead of Hardeman, 67-63, heading into this weekend’s pair of races on the 2.38-mile, 15-turn circuit in Birmingham, Alabama as part of the Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama race weekend.

“This year has brought some new guys in,” said Estep of his 2018 competition. “For example, Roman De Angelis, he’s also a really good friend of mine and an unbelievable competitor. Last year, it was the most competitive year to date for GT3 Cup and I think this year has topped it. There’s definitely a long season ahead of us and we’ll just have to see how it goes.”

This year is Estep’s second in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA. Originally, he was on a path that may have seen him competing in one of the other events on the Grand Prix of Alabama weekend, but he made a big decision heading into 2017. That decision ultimately placed him with JDX Racing and team founder and co-owner Jeremy Dale.

“It’s kind of a funny story how we got in touch with Jeremy,” Estep said. “He was actually asking me to do his (SCCA) Formula 4 program. I managed to win a championship and we were looking for teams and Jeremy contacted us to run the F4 program, but I was in the middle of the Mazda Road to Indy stuff.

“I had to foresee my future and didn’t have enough funds to continue up the ladder. It takes a lot of financial backing to do so. Through my research and just being at races, sports cars offered more opportunity, so that was my response to Jeremy. I said, ‘Thank you but no thank you. We’re going to look to go the sports car route.’ He said, ‘Well that’s perfect. I have a Porsche GT3 Cup team that I’d like you to look at.’”

With that, Estep’s GT3 Cup Challenge USA and sports car career were both underway. He joined JDX for the 2017 season and finished third in the final Platinum Cup season standings, scoring victories at Circuit of The Americas and Road Atlanta.

He also finished on the podium in both races at Barber last year with a third-place result in Race 1 and a second place in Race 2. He’s looking forward to applying what he learned last year, and in a preseason test earlier this year, when he returns to the track this weekend.

“We did some preseason testing up there in Barber beforehand and we found some stuff out that we didn’t find out last year, so I think we have a really strong car this year,” said Estep. “Hopefully, I can just do my job and we can walk out with a win.”

It’ll be easier said than done, though, with a strong field of competitors. In addition to Hardeman, who’s looking to build a winning streak in the No. 19 Moorespeed Porsche, he’s likely to have his hands full with De Angelis in the No. 1 Kelly-Moss Road and Race entry with strong local support from the Children’s Hospital of Alabama.

De Angelis led the most laps in both races at Sebring and is looking to avenge the fact that he’s still winless on the season. There are others as well.

“Anthony Imperato [in the No. 91 Wright Motorsports entry] is always at the top of the time charts as well,” Estep said. “We have a good group of guys. It’ll be a strong season, for sure.”

Having made the decision to pursue a career in sports car racing, Estep is hoping to parlay success in the GT3 Cup Challenge USA into even bigger things going forward.

“My goal is definitely to stay in sports cars and move up the ranks through there,” he said. “My goal is to be – hopefully one day – a Porsche factory driver or a factory driver for any major car manufacturer.”

He won’t have to wait long for his next chance to impress his prospective future employers. After a pair of practice sessions on Friday, Saturday’s schedule opens with a 15-minute qualifying session for GT3 Cup Challenge USA, followed by Race 1 of the doubleheader weekend from 11:50 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. CT.

The starting grid for Sunday’s second race will be established by Race 1 fastest lap times. The 45-minute Race 2 starts at 8:45 a.m. CT. Both races will be streamed live on IMSA.com.

The weekend entry list includes 17 Platinum Cup entries and seven Gold Cup entries for Porsche 911 GT3 Cup cars built between 2014 and 2016. Victor Gomez, from San Juan, Puerto Rico, leads the Gold Cup standings through his pair of class victories at Sebring in the No. 25 NGT Motorsport Porsche.

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IMSA Wire: Team TGM ‘Confronting Adversity’ During Challenging 2017 Season

Team TGM ‘Confronting Adversity’ During Challenging 2017 Season

Aug. 23, 2017

Staff Report

IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – It’s hard to argue that any other team in the Grand Sport (GS) class of the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge has had worse luck this season than Team TGM.

Team TGM, which stands for T. Giovanis Motorsports, entered this season with two full-time drivers in team owner Ted Giovanis and co-driver Guy Cosmo, with the addition of Hugh Plumb to assist with the two four-hour races at Daytona International Speedway and Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Giovanis eventually made the decision early in the year to bring Plumb on board full-time, and all three drivers would pilot two cars, the No. 4 and No. 46 Porsche Cayman GT4 MRs.

But a string of unfortunate events has seen that plan turn into only Plumb and Cosmo driving the No. 4, after Giovanis suffered a torn Achilles tendon as a result of a practice incident at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in early July.

Both cars withdrew from that event due to incidents, did not compete at the following race at Lime Rock Park, and the one car brought to Road America earlier this month was also forced to withdraw due to a practice incident.

“When I fell by the wayside, a lot of people basically said ‘Well, we’re probably not going to do anything from now on,’” said Giovanis, who underwent surgery five weeks ago. “Well, all I did was plug Hugh into the car with Cosmo and this is where we are.

“The testament of a team is not necessarily how well they do but how well they confront adversity. That’s sort of what you’re seeing. We’re confronting adversity. We look for reasons, we look for answers and fix them and go on. There’s a vision followed by plans and the plans didn’t work out, but the vision never changed.”

Giovanis’ recovery is going well, but as he pointed out, full recovery can’t come soon enough for a racecar driver.

“I have two jobs,” Giovanis said. “My jobs are running the (JKTG) Foundation [a primary sponsor of the car that focuses on health policy and cancer research] and being a racecar driver. So, I look at my rehab as doing my job and I think the guys, Hugh and Cosmo, they understand that I’m trying to get back.

“(The doctors) all say I’m doing really well, ahead of other patients they’ve had who have had similar surgeries, but yet it’s not fast enough for me. I’m ready to get on the gas and I can’t do it yet. What do I have to do to get back to walking again? What do I have to do to get in a car again? And what do I have to do to get in a racecar again? Those are sort of my milestones.”

Giovanis is also making sure his injury doesn’t limit the support he is able to give his team. He made the trip to Road America and plans to travel to each of the remaining three races this year, with the next stop being VIRginia International Raceway for the Biscuitville Grand Prix this weekend.

And if there’s one track that could turn the team’s luck around, it’s VIR. Cosmo won there in the Street Tuner (ST) class in 2003 and Plumb has three wins of his own at the circuit (ST in 2006, and GS in 2008 and 2015).

“Some tracks you just seem to have good showings at,” said Plumb. “I like the racetrack a lot and I think it’s got a lot of different things to offer. The word luck or whatever it is outside of hard work, talent, it’s just one of those things that that’s where the stars have aligned.

“When you have lots of bad luck, you start to wonder what is going on? I think it would be easier to rationalize if somebody made a mistake. I’m hoping going into VIR that we’ve had all of our bad luck because we just need to let the talent of the team, the hard work, commitment, all of the above, of Ted and the team really shine.”

And there’s one competitor in particular that Plumb especially has his eye on – younger brother, Matt Plumb, who co-drives the No. 76 C360R McLaren GT4.

“The funny thing is (my three wins) all have been with my brother, Matt, so that’s been great. This weekend, I hope to do the same thing, but beat my brother. He can be second this time.”

BimmerWorld Hoping Home Track Brings Good Luck

As the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge heads into its eighth of ten races on the 2017 schedule, there’s one team in the Street Tuner (ST) paddock hoping that VIRginia International Raceway grants a little magic to one of its own.

With its team shop located in Dublin, Virginia, BimmerWorld Racing, comprised of the Nos. 81 and 84 BMW 328i racecars, is more than familiar with the 3.27-mile circuit located less than three hours away.

“I think we’re looking good for the weekend,” said BimmerWorld President and No. 84 co-driver James Clay. “VIR is our home track and certainly the one we test at the most, so I think we come there knowing certainly the track, but all the nuances of the track, the pavement as it currently exists and how to optimize our cars on the track.”

In what the team hopes to be another good luck charm, this upcoming weekend marks a celebration of sorts for Clay and his co-driver Tyler Cooke, who both celebrated birthdays within the last week. Putting the car on the podium for the second time this year would be the best present.

Clay, who has played a large part in the development and success of the BMW 328i, is just one piece of the puzzle that makes up BimmerWorld’s unique driver lineup. He pilots the No. 84 with Cooke, the youngest of the bunch at 23 years old. In the No. 81 are Ari Balogh, who brings an extensive business and technical background to the team, with Greg Liefooghe, who has the most Continental Tire Challenge starts of the group at 76.

“I like our team and I’m sure as most teams would say, I feel like we’re a tight-knit family,” said Clay. “When running the team, I like a little bit of diversity and I think we’ve certainly got that. I think we all learn certain things from each other and I think the spread of drivers that we have under our awning is really a benefit to us as a team and as a racing team business in creating a well-rounded package.”

While the 2017 season has dealt a wave of challenges to the four drivers throughout the year, including a withdrawal at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park by the No. 81 after an incident in practice, the No. 84 sits sixth in the point standings after recording six top-ten finishes in the seven races this year.

Regardless of the outcome of the last three races of the season, though, the offseason won’t be one of rest and relaxation for the BimmerWorld camp. The team’s 2018 plans include a move up to the Grand Sport class in the Continental Tire Challenge, which is set to feature only those racecars with global GT4 technical specifications and which a wealth of manufacturers have already committed to for the upcoming year.

“As a GT4 car, it’s not a car that we spend time developing,” Clay said, which allows the team’s focus to remain on the final three races of the current season. “That’s really on the factory to deliver the car. At some point in the near future, we’ll have two cars on our doorstep and we’ll start testing and wrapping our heads around the cars. But really there’s not a lot of pregaming and planning for us to do, other than putting the team together and making sure we have the driver lineup set, which is what I’m currently working on.”

The Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway is set for Saturday, August 26 at 2:10 p.m. ET and can be watched live on IMSA.com.