Brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor drove a near-flawless race in their No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP to win the penultimate round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at the Circuit of the Americas.
Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow’s consistent performance in the No. 8 Starworks LMPC entry paid off for a class win to extend their championship lead. Scoring the second GT Le Mans win of the season for Porsche, the No. 912 duo of Earl Bamber and Frederic Makowiecki earned their first win of the season, Bamber’s first in the U.S., in their Porsche 911 RSR. The GT Daytona class win went to Jens Klingmann and Bret Curtis in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3.
Historically proving to have ample opportunity for passing, the layout of the Circuit of Americas did not disappoint. Epic Turn 1 provided great action all day long, along with other sections of the track. At one point, the two Action Express entries of Christian Fittipaldi and Eric Curran made contact and spun – a crucial mistake for the two teams currently scored 1–2 in the championship. Both entries were able to keep going without much delay.
The first of two full course cautions was waved on Lap 18 for the stopped No. 90 Corvette DP of Marc Goossens potentially due to a drive shaft failure. The field pitted under yellow conditions before going Green.
As the field took the green flag, Katherine Legge’s DeltaWing made contact with John Pew’s Ligier. This took both entries out of contention for the win and provided fans with a humorous “feud” between Pew’s Ligier and a sponsor billboard, resulting in the second and final full course caution for the day.
Though the overall lead was held at bay in the Prototype category, tempers flared throughout the field. Giancarlo Fisichella, who is currently serving probation for actions after the last round, made contact with the No. 911 Porsche in an attempt to gain the GTLM lead. GTLM was not the only class with clashes for the lead, however. Contact occurred between Andy Lally’s No. 44 Audi and Alessandro Balzan’s No. 63 Ferrari as the two battled for the top spot in GTD midway through the two-hour, 4-minute event.
Aside from issues with the Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP, a variety of competitors experienced issues. The No. 55 Mazda Prototype retired due to a failed fuel pump, the entry’s fourth DNF of the season, seventh for the team. GTLM pole-sitters, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook experienced a suspension failure on their Ford GT after making contact with the No. 4 Corvette, but were still able to finish the race.
The Prototype lead was hotly contested near the end of the race after an uncharacteristic mistake and spin by Taylor. This helped Dane Cameron cut the lead down to less than a second in the closing half hour of the race. The two battled through lapped traffic on the busy circuit, but Taylor was able to hold off the rival Corvette DP to win for the third time this season leaving Cameron and Curran to finish second. Third place went to Action Express team mates of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.
In LMPC, a strong fight for the top spot was sustained throughout the event. With just five minutes to go, van der Zande was able to get around the No. 38 of James French. Following van der Zande, Tom Kimber-Smith was able to break through to second place in the final minute of the race. Teammate, Robert Alon, joined French to give PR1/Mathiasen their eighth podium of the season. Local Nick Boulle’s one-off appearance helped James French and the Performance Tech Motorsports crew complete the podium.
Porsche’s eventful day ended in a double podium in GTLM as Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilot were able to survive the drama and follow the No. 911 to the checkered flag. Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia held on to finish on the final step of the podium in the No. 3 Corvette.
The GTD podium remained undecided throughout the race, even in the closing minutes. Mario Farnbacher, in the No. 23 Porsche, was chasing the late-race dominating Klingmann, but ran out of fuel on the final lap and finished sixth in class. Paul Miller Racing’s Bryan Sellers capitalized on the fuel mis-queue to finish P2 with teammate Madison Snow. Championship leaders, Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen finished on the last step of the podium in the No. 63 Ferrari.
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship comes to its season finale, Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort, in just two weeks. Road Atlanta will play host to the close of the 2016 season with the first session starting Thursday, September 29 at 11:15 AM Eastern while the race get’s underway Saturday, October 1 at 11:10 AM.