IMSA Wire: Sellers Scores Another Street Circuit Motul Pole Award, Will Lead GTD Field to Green at Detroit

For Immediate Release
Sellers Scores Another Street Circuit Motul Pole Award,
Will Lead GTD Field to Green at Detroit

June 1, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

Qualifying Results

DETROIT, Mich. – Bryan Sellers definitely seems to know the quick way around street circuits, and he proved it again in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class qualifying for Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic.

Piloting the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, Sellers captured the Motul Pole Award on Friday afternoon after posting the fastest lap of one minute, 28.942 seconds (95.117 mph) at the 2.3-mile Belle Isle Park street circuit in Detroit.

Sellers will lead the GTD field to green on Saturday afternoon before handing the reins over to co-driver Madison Snow in the 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, which will be televised live on FS2 at 12:30 p.m. ET. A re-air of the race is set for Sunday, June 3 on FS1 at 8:30 a.m.

The pole is Sellers’ third in the WeatherTech Championship, with the previous two also coming at street circuits – in 2016 at Belle Isle and at the 2017 BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach. The pole continues the momentum for Paul Miller Racing, as the team won the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts in March and has finished on the podium in each of the three GTD races so far in 2018.

“When we finished the second session, we thought there was no way we would even be close to this but getting in clear air is a huge advantage here,” Sellers said. “It gives you an opportunity to gain and gain and gain and luckily at three, four, five laps all on my own where I could just work on it, the last lap was just the right way. I got it all put together – how I wanted, when I wanted – and the crew did a great job on the car. We struggled in the second session with balance, but the temperatures came down and I think it all came into our hand a little bit.”

Cooper MacNeil in the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 and Dominik Baumann in the No. 14 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 also took turns atop the leaderboard in the slightly shortened qualifying session. Typically 15 minutes in duration, qualifying on Friday afternoon was reduced to 12 minutes due to track cleanup following an incident in the session prior for another series.

Meyer Shank Racing’s two Acura NSX GT3s will start behind the No. 48 Lamborghini – the No. 86 of Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher, followed by the No. 93 of Lawson Aschenbach and Justin Marks. Legge is a defending winner of the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, while Farnbacher won the GTD race at Belle Isle in 2015.

Additionally, both Lexus RC F GT3s from 3GT Racing qualified fourth and fifth, the No. 14 of Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli – winners of the most recent GTD race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in early May – and the No. 15 of Jack Hawksworth and David Heinemeier Hansson, respectively.

The No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 of John Potter and Andy Lally was the only GTD car to not participate in qualifying. Damage from an incident earlier Friday afternoon in Practice 2 forced the team to forgo qualifying to repair the car. Lally and Potter will start Saturday’s race from the back of the 12-car field. Lally co-drove to the GTD victory last year with Legge.

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IMSA Wire: Derani, Nissan DPi Score Motul Pole Award At Detroit

For Immediate Release
Derani, Nissan DPi Score Motul Pole Award At Detroit

June 1, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

Qualifying Results

DETROIT, Mich. – Pipo Derani and the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi team pulled off an upset Friday in Motul Pole Award qualifying for Saturday’s IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Belle Isle Park.

On a four-minute sprint following a brief red flag due to an incident involving the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 car of Robert Alon, Derani shot to the top of the charts with a lap of one minute, 22.273 seconds (102.828 mph). The Brazilian then managed to hold on for the pole, ending a two-race stranglehold atop the Prototype charts by Acura Team Penske.

In fact, Derani’s lap was an impressive 0.719 seconds ahead of runner-up Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 6 Acura Team Penske Acura DPi, 1:22.992, and a full second ahead of Helio Castroneves’ No. 7 Acura DPi, who qualified third with a lap of 1:23.275.

Acura Team Penske entered the weekend on an impressive run, sweeping every practice session one race earlier at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, sweeping the front row in qualifying, and culminating the weekend with a 1-2 finish – the first win for the Acura DPi in WeatherTech Championship competition. In Detroit, the team promptly topped the charts in each of the weekend’s first two practice sessions.

“You know, that shows that we’ve been working really hard,” said Derani, who scored his second career WeatherTech Championship pole. “The level of IMSA has been incredibly high and to be able to put it on pole here against well-known teams, it’s very rewarding.

“We’ve been working really hard and it’s nice to see that the work has been paying off in terms of speed, and we’re showing that we can go head-to-head with these guys. So hopefully tomorrow we have a clean race. Starting from pole definitely helps.”

Derani will be joined Saturday by co-driver Johannes van Overbeek. The duo won earlier this season at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts, joined in that race by endurance teammate Nicolas Lapierre.

The normally 15-minute qualifying session was shortened to 12 minutes due to track cleanup following an incident in the session prior for another series. The green flag time was shortened even more when Alon hit the barrier at the exit of Turn 4 five minutes into the session. Alon was able to drive to the pits with an askew rear wing, but the session was halted briefly to remove debris from the track.

Saturday’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic will be televised live on FS2 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET, with a re-air of the WeatherTech Championship race airing on Sunday, June 3 on FS1 at 8:30 a.m. ET. IMSA Radio coverage of the race can be heard on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com

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IMSA/NBC Partnership Announcement (social media posting)

IMSA, NBC Sports Group Announce
Six-Year Partnership To Begin In 2019

New Partnership Brings IMSA Racing To NBC Sports Networks, Digital Platforms

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (April 30, 2018) – The International Motor Sports Association (IMSA) will have a new U.S. broadcast home for its flagship IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, what is currently known as the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda as NBC Sports Group and IMSA today announced a six-year partnership starting with the 2019 season.

This enhanced media rights partnership includes a significant increase in network coverage of the WeatherTech Championship over 2018. Three races will broadcast on NBC and there will be more than 45 hours of WeatherTech Championship action televised on the NBC Sports Network (NBCSN) throughout the season. NBC Sports will present more than 100 hours of IMSA coverage across its broadcast, cable, and digital platforms. The NBC Sports App and NBCSports.com will offer flag-to-flag live streaming coverage of every WeatherTech Championship race to authenticated subscribers.

“The resonance and gravity of this new partnership with NBC Sports Group for IMSA fans and our stakeholders cannot be overstated,” said IMSA CEO Ed Bennett. “This agreement is the culmination of a comprehensive process to align ourselves with a media rights partner that will capitalize on the tremendous momentum the WeatherTech Championship and IMSA is currently enjoying, and will help our sport reach new heights. Without question, NBC Sports Group ‘gets’ motorsports and our unique premium product. We could not be prouder to call NBC Sports our future partner.”

“As the U.S. home of motorsports, we are excited to present IMSA’s high-quality and diverse racing circuit to our abundance of racing fans,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “By utilizing our wide-array of broadcast, cable, and digital platforms, we can service IMSA and motorsports fans with more coverage and in more ways than ever before.”

This media rights agreement with NBC Sports Group capitalizes on IMSA’s unprecedented growth and its bright future including the sanctioning body celebrating its 50th Anniversary in 2019. Among the highlights of this growth include record attendance at each race this year, unique television viewership for the year is on track to surpass last year’s record of 6.5 million viewers, and significant digital and social media growth.

NBC Sports Group is the home of motorsports in the U.S., with this agreement adding to its extensive portfolio of auto racing that includes NASCAR and INDYCAR.

The 2019 season starts with the 57th Rolex 24 At Daytona on Jan. 26-27, 2019 and the entire season broadcast schedule will be announced in the coming months.

ABOUT IMSA
The International Motor Sports Association, LLC (IMSA) was originally founded in 1969 and owns a long and rich history in sports car racing. Today, IMSA is the sanctioning body of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, the premier sports car racing series in North America. IMSA also sanctions the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda, as well as four one-make series: Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama; Ultra 94 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada by Yokohama; Ferrari Challenge North America; and Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America. IMSA – a company within the NASCAR family – is the exclusive strategic partner in North America with the Automobile Club de l’Ouest (ACO) which operates the 24 Hours of Le Mans as a part of the FIA World Endurance Championship. The partnership enables selected IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors to earn automatic entries into the prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans. For more information, visit www.IMSA.com, www.twitter.com/IMSA or www.facebook.com/IMSA.

ABOUT NBC SPORTS GROUP
NBC Sports Group serves sports fans 24/7 with premier live events, insightful studio shows, and compelling original programming. The sports media company consists of NBC Sports, NBC Olympics, NBCSN, Golf Channel, NBC Sports Regional Networks, NBC Sports Radio and NBC Sports Digital, which includes NBCSports.com, NBCOlympics.com, GolfChannel.com, the digital assets of the NBC Sports Regional Networks, Rotoworld, the NBC Sports Talk franchise, multiple apps, and two transactional sports businesses, GolfNow and SportsEngine. NBC Sports Group possesses an unparalleled collection of television rights agreements, partnering with some of the most prestigious sports properties in the world: the International Olympic Committee and United States Olympic Committee, the NFL, NHL, NASCAR, INDYCAR, PGA TOUR, The R&A, PGA of America, Churchill Downs, Premier League, Tour de France, French Open, and many more.

Shank Leads IMSA Contingent to Indianapolis 500

For Immediate Release
Castroneves, Shank, Scuderia Corsa Lead IMSA Contingent
to Indianapolis 500

May 18, 2018
Staff Report
IMSA Wire Service

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Fans of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will have a few “home teams” to root on this weekend in qualifications for the 102nd Indianapolis 500.

The 35-car entry list includes a host of regular IndyCar drivers who have competed in WeatherTech Championship races over the years, and a handful of drivers and teams who are active participants in IMSA this year.

Leading the way is Helio Castroneves, who got his month of May off to a fantastic start at Mid-Ohio on May 6. He and co-driver Ricky Taylor delivered the first victory for the new Acura DPi program in the No. 7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05. It also was Castroneves’ first IMSA win since Petit Le Mans in 2008 and his first as a full-time driver in the WeatherTech Championship.

Last weekend, Castroneves made his first IndyCar start of the year, taking sixth in the INDYCAR Grand Prix on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. In qualifying this weekend, Castroneves will look for his fifth Indy 500 pole position, and on Sunday, May 27, he’ll look to join A.J. Foyt, Al Unser and Rick Mears as the only four-time winners in the prestigious race.

“I’m going to be representing the IMSA flag,” says Castroneves, who will drive the No. 3 Chevrolet for Team Penske at Indy. “I’m excited to be back in the IndyCar, but obviously excited more to be in the Indy 500.

“The good news is, the cars in IMSA right now, especially the Acura, has a lot of similarity to the IndyCar, but still, it’s a different car. It kept me on the edge, pushing myself to find the limits, and that’s exactly what’s going to happen in the month of May. I have no doubt we’re going to be fighting for the win.”

Among those he will be fighting against are some regular WeatherTech Championship teams that also have IndyCar programs. Obviously, Team Penske, Chip Ganassi Racing and Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing all are longtime IndyCar teams that also have high-profile, factory-supported programs in the WeatherTech Championship.

In addition to those teams, Meyer Shank Racing returns for its second consecutive Indy 500 after making its debut last year. In addition to its pair of Acura NSX GT3 race cars that compete in the WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class, Meyer Shank Racing team is fielding the No. 60 Honda for Jack Harvey in selected IndyCar events, including the Indianapolis 500 in a partnership with Schmidt Peterson Motorsports.

“It’s great to be back here at IMS,” said team co-owner Mike Shank this week. “It’s such a special place and atmosphere and fan support is next to none.”

Following in Shank’s footsteps this year at Indy is Scuderia Corsa, which has won the last three consecutive WeatherTech Championship GTD titles and has won five of six championships dating back to the 2013 GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series GT crown. Scuderia Corsa has partnered with Rahal Letterman Lanigan for the 2018 Indy 500, fielding the No. 64 Honda for veteran IndyCar racer Oriol Servia.

“The Indianapolis 500 and the month of May is unlike anything else, and I’m excited to be a part of such a great program,” Servia said. “Obviously, Scuderia Corsa has a great history of winning and RLL is one of the best teams in IndyCar, so I’m excited to see how we all work together. Being new to this experience, I’m especially looking forward to introducing everyone at Scuderia Corsa to the many traditions and festivities in store. The entire experience is something they’ll never forget.”

Seven drivers entered for this year’s 500 already have competed in multiple WeatherTech Championship rounds including Castroneves, Scott Dixon – who won the Rolex 24 At Daytona in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class, Graham Rahal, Sebastien Bourdais, Spencer Pigot, Simon Pagenaud and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

And one driver on the entry list – Jay Howard – recently joined the IMSA Prototype Challenge Presented by Mazda. He made his debut last month at Barber Motorsports Park in the No. 87 Five Miles Out Racing Norma LMP3 entry alongside co-driver Nicholas Colyvas.

At Indy, Howard is driving the No. 7 Honda for SPM/AFS Racing, which has one additional IMSA tie. AFS Racing is in its first full WeatherTech Championship season in 2018 in partnership with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports. AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports fields the No. 52 Ligier LMP2 prototype for Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman.

While many eyes in the racing world will be focused on Indianapolis for the next two weekends, immediately after that, the WeatherTech Championship returns to action with the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 2, which will be televised live on FS2 starting at 12:30 p.m. ET. In addition to live IMSA Radio coverage on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio, a re-air of the WeatherTech Championship race will be available on FS1 on Sunday, June 3 at 8:30 a.m. ET.

Tickets are available now at DetroitGP.com.

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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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