Continental Tire Beyond the Podium explores the post-race news and notes from both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge races from last weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
***Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen padded their GT Daytona championship lead to 32 points over Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, after power steering issues for the No. 33 Viper GT3-R in the race. With a maximum of 36 points available for Petit Le Mans, the Ferrari duo will only need to complete the minimum drive time to be crowned champions.
***Saturday’s race was another heartbreak for Risi Competizione, with electrical issues taking the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE out of the GT Le Mans class lead with 30 minutes to go. Toni Vilander nearly stopped on track after the car shut off, but managed to get back to the pits and eventually back on track for an eighth place class finish.
***The No. 67 Ford GT lost ground in the GTLM title race after Ryan Briscoe made contact with the championship-leading No. 4 Corvette C7.R of Tommy Milner, damaging the steering rack of the Ford. It resulted in lengthy repair in the garage. Briscoe and Richard Westbrook now trail Milner and Oliver Gavin by 11 points.
***The No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda soldered home to a 21st place finish overall after John Pew was spun by the DeltaWing of Katherine Legge late in the opening hour. Pew collected a WeatherTech sign and dragged it on track and was forced to stop on track because of visibility issues. Legge was given a drive-through penalty for the contact.
***Visit Florida Racing’s miserable 2016 season continued with the No. 90 Corvette DP stopping on track with driveshaft failure, which brought out the first of two full-course cautions. The car returned to action but lost more than 35 laps.
***A gamble on a two-stop strategy for the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 didn’t pay off in the end, as James French lost the lead to a hard-charging Renger van der Zande with just three laps to go to claim he and Alex Popow’s fourth class win of the season. The Brent O’Neill-led Performance Tech team is still winless in series competition.
***With a ten-point lead over PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports’ Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon, the Starworks duo need to score a seventh place finish or better in next month’s season-ending Petit Le Mans to be crowned champions. They’ll be rejoined by David Heinemeier Hansson for the 10-hour season finale.
***TRG-AMR led the GTD ranks with clever strategy en route to a seventh place class finish for the late driver lineup of Ben Barker and David Calvert-Jones, in the team’s first WeatherTech Championship start since Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in May.
Continental Tire Challenge:
***Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell’s win on Friday puts Johnson tied for all-time Continental Tire Challenge victories with Matt Plumb at 22 wins.
***Johnson and Maxwell have extended their lead in the GS championship to 31 points over CJ Wilson Racing’s Marc Miller and Danny Burkett, after a broken suspension sent the No. 33 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport behind the wall late in the race. The Multimatic pairing will only need to complete the minimum drive time at Road Atlanta to be crowned champions.
***RS1’s Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante lost the lead of ST class championship after a shift cable failure on the second pace lap. The No. 17 Porsche Cayman returned 18 laps down but was classified 22nd in class, handing the points lead to Freedom Autosport’s Chad McCumbee and Stevan MacAleer, who now have an eight-point lead.
***A number of other cars battled mechanical woes in the race, including an engine issue for the ST class pole-sitting No. 84 BimmerWorld BMW 328i, fuel pump failure for No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports BMW 228i and a broken axle for Liam Dwyer’s Freedom Autosport Mazda.
***The two-hour and 30-minute race featured only as single full-course caution, for the No. 65 Murillo Racing BMW 328i, which suffered a mechanical problem and tagged the barrier in Turn 12. The final 56 laps were run under green.