For the third Prototype class battle in a row the race has been won by a non-factory LMP2 entry with a properly pro-am driver combo at the wheel. For the second time in a row, that winner has been the CORE Autosport pairing of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett. This comes just days after IMSA announced that they would demote the LMP2-style racers to a lower tier class below their own DPi-style prototypes.
The race played out like they usually do for the first couple of hours, but as the clock passed the 30-minutes remaining mark, everything changed. The leading Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac was positive it would need another stop for fuel, and as such they were out front running as quickly as possible to try to build a gap back to the car in second. With about 10 minute remaining, the WTR car pitted for fuel with a 14-second gap, but that wasn’t enough, and the Mazda Team Joest car moved into the lead, looking for their first race of the season, er, ever. Then, with just two laps remaining in the race, the #55 car was called in for its own late-race pit stop for a fuel top up.
Once that happened, it was the CORE Autosport car’s time to shine. They’d had enough fuel onboard, and had spent the last hour taking dodgy risks in traffic, trying to stay ahead of competition behind. Basically, the team’s strategy to minimize Jon Bennett’s time in the car, as the Am-driver, and get the mega-talented Colin Braun on board as quickly as possible, well, worked. Again.
In the GTLM class Ford’s GT racer took its fourth victory in a row. The #67 car of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe performed perfectly, putting in excellent laps and strategy to win the class ahead of the two Corvettes. The BMW M8 GTE with Connor De Phillippi was dominating the class in the late running, but stumbled with a few laps to go, and ran out of fuel before it could get all the way to the uphill entry to pit lane. His car puttered to a stop about thirty feet from the lane proper, and he was forced to retire.
Porsche took their first GTD class victory of the season as Pat Long and Christina Nielsen ran an impeccable race from pole position. It was a race that rewarded speed and having the right strategy, and the red and white Wright Motorsports car had both. It was hectic out on track today, and both Wright drivers managed to keep the nose clean and run quickly.
It was an excellent race, and proves again that IMSA is the best sports car racing in the world right now. Let’s hope the class changes next year don’t change that fact.