Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen dominated the Michelin GT Challenge in their No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R, leading from flag to flag at Virginia International Raceway.
Mirroring the effort by the GT Le Mans winner, Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow kept their Lamborghini Huracan GT3 in the top spot of the GT Daytona class throughout the race, producing the first GTD for the marque. Despite scorching temperatures all weekend long, the GT-only Michelin GT Challenge did not disappoint for the 10th weekend of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship this year.
Chasing the Corvette all race long, Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand held on to finish second in their Ford GT. Earl Bamber and Frederic Makowiecki completed the GTLM podium in their Porsche 911 RSR after an exciting race, not without incident. In GTD, Lawson Aschenbach and Matt Bell drove a smart, but uneventful race in their Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS, producing their season-best finish of second place. Completing the GTD podium is John Potter and Andy Lally in the Magnus Racing Audi.
From the onset of the race Magussen took a commanding lead, as he pulled away after staring from from pole position. Joey Hand’s Ford GT was quick behind the Corvette, but was not able to better the rival manufacturer. Hand managed to jump to second place from third on the opening lap. The sister Corvette, driven by Tommy Milner lost four positions by the second lap and experienced issues throughout the race, bringing out the only yellow near the end of the race.
Snow started the race on a mission as he led all the way through his stint from the top spot in the GTD class. While most of the GTD field elected to change drivers during the first of their two pit stops, the Paul Miller Racing team elected to keep Snow in the car to continue his lightning pace.
For a majority of the event, the green flags waved without interruption. The vast, grassy run-offs featured at the beautiful Virginia International Raceway allowed for long green flag runs, despite a number of competitors experiencing off-track excursions. Such incidents did not go off without consequence, however, as multiple teams were forced to pit to clean grass off the front of their machines, in an attempt to avoid overheating in the hot Virginia heat.
The race was only interrupted once by the yellows for the late-race off by Oliver Gavin with less than 10 minutes to go. The high-speed shunt expired the car for the race, but Gavin was able to drive away. IMSA officials did a great job to re-organize the field and clean up in time for a single-lap dash for the checkered flags.
Garcia pulled away from Mueller’s Ford GT on the restart. Further back, the Bamber made contact with Giancarolo Fisichella’s Ferrari F488 GTE into the first corner. The Ferrari spun, which allowed Bamber to score the final spot on the podium while the Risi Competizone entry ended up seventh. Fisichella was visibly displeased after the race, and was seen approaching the Bamber’s Porsche, punching the side of the Porsche as it drove by.
Garcia credited much of the performance of this weekend to the two-day Road Atlanta test conducted by the team earlier this week.
“The car was brilliant,” said Garcia. “It really paid off to be out testing on Monday and Tuesday.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes to the track next at Circuit of the Aemericas in Austin, Texas for the Lone Star Le Mans September 14 – 17. It’s expected that this year’s event will be the last time the FIA World Endurance Championship and IMSA will feature a combined weekend for the foreseeable future.
The first session of the event for the WeatherTech Championship commences on Thursday, September 15 at 10:25 AM CT. The race will be broadcast live on Fox Sports One and IMSA Radio starting at 11:35 on Saturday, September 17.
UPDATE: MAGNUS RACING EXCLUDED FROM MICHELIN GT RESULT
Sportscar365 has reported that the No. 44 Audi of Magnus Racing failed post race tech inspection due to a ride height infringement. The infraction excludes the team from the podium, promoting the No. 6 Stevenson Motorsport Audi of Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis, securing a double podium for the Stevenson squad.