Level 5 Motorsports locked up its third consecutive P2 teams’ championship Saturday with a dominant run in Saturday’s Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway.
Ryan Briscoe took the No. 551 HPD ARX-03b to a 13.464-second win over the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports entry of Scott Sharp, who finished in second.
The two similarly prepared cars enjoyed an early race battle, in the hands of Scott Tucker and Anthony Lazzaro, with the Level 5 team owner losing the lead to the ESM entry just past the 40-minute mark.
However, the No. 551 car, in the hands of Briscoe, managed to re-take the top spot in the second hour, which saw the Australian bridge the gap over Sharp in the closing stages of the two-hour and 45-minute contest.
While it marked Level 5’s eighth class victory of the season, it also locked up the teams’ championship one race early.
“It was good,” Briscoe said. “I felt pretty confident and we had a good car. The strategy went perfect today. Everybody executed to perfection today. The car was strong. Scott did a great job during his stint. He led most of his laps out there.”
With the class win, Tucker leapfrogs to the championship lead and now holds a six-point advantage over Sharp heading into the series-ending Petit Le Mans in two weeks’ time.
The No. 552 Level 5 machine of Stefan Johansson, Marino Franchitti and Guy Comso completed the class podium in third.
Both Franchitti and Cosmo, who were 1-2 in the drivers’ title race entering Saturday’s race, did not collect driver points as they failed to reach the 60-minute minimum drive time to score points.
Up front, Muscle Milk Pickett Racing scored its eighth overall victory in nine races, despite an early race battle with the pole-sitting Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda of Johnny Mowlem.
Both P1 class contenders suffered off-course excursions in the opening hour, but the race quickly went to the hands of Klaus Graf and co-driver Lucas Luhr, who took the HPD ARX-03c to a 22.846-second victory over the Dyson entry of Guy Smith.
PC honors for the second consecutive race went to BAR1 Motorsports’ Kyle Marcelli and Chris Cumming.
Marcelli edged out a late-charging No. 05 CORE autosport Oreca FLM09 of Tom Kimber-Smith by 11.590 seconds for the class win.
BAR1’s No. 7 entry of Rusty Mitchell and James French completed the podium in a race that nearly turned the championship tables upside down.
An early accident involving the PC championship-leading PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry of Mike Guasch resulted in a fifth place finish for he and pole-sitter Dane Cameron, narrowing Guasch’s lead to 11 points heading into Road Atlanta.
Thanks to their runner-up finish, CORE autosport are now tied for PR1/Mathiasen for the lead of the teams’ championship.
RESULTS: Oak Tree Grand Prix