When Muscle Milk Pickett Racing hit trouble, it was clear sailing for Rebellion Racing, which scored back-to-back Petit Le Mans victories and took top overall honors in the final American Le Mans Series race.
The day also belonged to Level 5 Motorsports and owner/driver Scott Tucker, who claimed his fourth drivers’ championship with a win in the P2 class.
BAR1 Motorsports earned top honors in Prototype Challenge, but it was PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Mike Guasch that took the drivers’ title by a single point, while CORE autosport locked up its third consecutive teams’ title.
Up front, Neel Jani took the No. 12 Lola B12/60 Toyota to a six-lap victory in the 1,000-mile/10-hour enduro, which saw started in wet conditions before drying out by the mid afternoon.
While having started from the pole, it wasn’t clear sailing for the Angl0-Swiss squad in the early stages.
Jani made contact with a Prototype Challenge car late in the opening hour, which resulted in a stop-and-hold plus 60-second penalty for avoidable contact plus repairs to the nose, costing them nearly three laps.
It handed the lead to the P1 championship-winning Muscle Milk Pickett squad until Romain Dumas pitted with overheating issues midway through the race, which later led to a retirement for the HPD ARX-03c.
As a result, it marked a repeat victory for Jani, Nicolas Prost, teamed with Nick Heidfeld this year.
“We were still lucky, I would say,” Jani said. “Slowly we came back. We had a very good car and very good pace. The team did a good job fixing everything. Then my teammates took over and they did a good job to get the car back in the lead so I could just finish the race.”
The No. 16 Dyson Racing Lola B12/60 Mazda of Chris Dyson, Chris McMurry and Tony Burgess came home second in P1 and 11th overall.
Like the Muscle Milk HPD, the DeltaWing coupe also retired, leaving only two finishers in the final P1 race.
A thrilling late-race battle for P2 honors went the way of Level 5’s Tucker, Marino Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe, who edged out the No. 01 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARx-03b of David Brabham by 1.394 seconds.
The two cars swapped the lead numerous times throughout the race, with a quicker final fuel-only stop for Level 5 ultimately put Briscoe ahead of his countryman Brabham.
With the win, Tucker ended his ALMS career with a perfect championship record, as well as for the Level 5 team, which clinched the P2 teams’ title at Virginia International Raceway.
Brabham and co-drivers Anthony Lazzaro and title contender Scott Sharp were second, followed by the No. 552 Level 5 entry of Guy Cosmo, Jonny Kane and Peter Dumbreck, which finished one lap behind after leading early.
BAR1 claimed its third consecutive PC class win, thanks to an impressive closing triple stint by Kyle Marcelli, who sealed the win for he and co-drivers Cumming and Stefan Johansson.
The No. 8 entry finished 11.4 seconds ahead of the debuting No. 25 8Star Motorsports Oreca FLM09 of Ozz Negri and Sean Rayhall, which had dominated much of the race.
CORE autosport notched its third straight teams’ championship, despite some post-race confusion that had originally awarded it to BAR1 Motorsport. However, with the 8Star car not being a full-season entry, and thus not scoring team points, the third-place finishing CORE entry scores second place team points in the race.
There was similar confusion in the drivers’ championship, as Cumming was brought onto the podium and declared champion, but PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Mike Guasch was listed as champion in the provisional points standings.
The CORE team was tied for the championship lead with PR1/Mathiasen heading into Saturday but the Bobby Oergel-led PR1 squad suffered a disastrous race, triggered by an early race incident by the Rebellion Lola, which was handed a penalty for avoidable contact.
Losing nearly 20 laps in the garage for suspension and radiator repairs, the No. 52 car finished fifth in class, but received fourth place points, which was good enough for Guasch to win the championship.