Quick thinking and clever fuel strategy helped Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell take the victory in their No. 15 Multimatic Racing Ford Shelby GT350R-C for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Road Race Showcase at Road America. In the ST category, Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante won in their No. 17 RS1 Porsche Cayman.
Jeroen Bleekemolen and Peter Ludwig finished second in the GS category after some late-race pit stops in their No. 21 Porsche Cayman Clubsport GT4. Ted Giovanis and Guy Cosmo found themselves third in the No. 64 Porsche Cayman after the unexpected slew of pit stops.
In the ST category, Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger took the checkered in second place behind the wheel of their No. 93 Honda Civic Si. A second Cayman, the No. 56 car driven by Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing, proved that the marque was just as strong in the ST class.
Pit strategy and close wheel-to-wheel racing were highlighted throughout the race. Four early-race cautions tempted most of the field to weight their fuel strategy on the front-end of the race. The fourth and final caution came out on lap 25 for an incident involving the No. 38 Porsche Cayman of Dan Rodgers. Most of the GS field pitted under this caution, with one hour, eight minutes left in the race.
The final and most interesting part of the race started with Cosmo leading the field to the green after electing to stay out under the final yellow. After just 15 laps at the front, Cosmo took to pit lane with a half hour left in the race, leaving the lead to Johnson.
The final rush of pit stops began with just 14 minutes left on the clock of the two-hour, 30-minute race. Bleekemolen and the No. 33 Porsche Cayman of Marc Miller dove onto pit lane for quick splashes of IMA100 VP Racing fuel. Johnson continued to lead for eight laps until the Shelby ran parched. Despite a hard charge from Miller, Johnson managed to just beat the Cayman into Turn 1, exiting the pits in a hurry.
The No. 99 Aston Martin Vantage of Charles Espenlaub assumed the lead from the Ford and seemed to have the race wrapped up, until the white flag. With less than one minute left in the race, Espenlaub was forced to pit and was soon followed by Miller, allowing Johnson and Bleekemolen through to the checkered flag.
Adding to the anxiety of the unexpected finish, there was an early incident between the No. 76 C360R Ford of Paul Holton and Till Bechtolsheimer’s Blackhawks Charities-clad Porsche. Contact between the two cars through Thunder Valley resulted in both machines going airborne in a spectacular crash. Bechtolsheimer’s Porsche came to rest completely overturned while the Holton’s No. 76 ended up on its side. The incident left the heavily damaged vehicles out of the race and will require massive repairs before returning to competition.
As has come to be expected from the ST class, old-fashioned door-to-door racing was featured from green flag to checkered. After not setting a time during qualifying, the second-placed No. 93 saw a hard charge from 35th overall to leading the class under Gilsinger’s control.
Two other breaks in the action came from incidents involving the ST field. On Lap 14, a single-car incident for the No. 34 Alara Racing MX-5 required a full course caution. Another incident between the No. 54 BMW 328i of Michael Johnson and the No. 19 Porsche Cayman of Greg Strezloff required two laps of yellow to clean up.
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will take to the track for Round 8 of their ten-round championship on August 27 for the winding circuit at Virginia International Raceway.