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Continental Tire Beyond the Podium: Monterey

Post-race news and notes from Continental Monterey Grand Prix…

Photo: John Dagys

Photo: John Dagys

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 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

WeatherTech Championship:

***After dominating buildup to the race, including a sweep of the front row in qualifying, Mazda walked away without a podium finish for either of its prototypes, after hitting trouble on multiple fronts in Sunday’s two-hour Prototype/GT Le Mans race.

***An oil pump failure resulted in retirement for the No. 70 car just prior to halfway, while a spin by Jonathan Bomarito, and subsequent decision to take fuel-only on its pit stop, left Bomarito with flat-spotted tires on his final stint and unable to challenge. The No. 55 car finished 4th.

***The win for Michael Shank Racing and drivers Ozz Negri and John Pew was their first since the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona, when the driver pairing shared top honors with AJ Allmendinger and the late Justin Wilson in a Riley-Ford DP.

***It also marked the third win of four races this season for the Ligier JS P2 Honda, following Tequila Patron ESM’s overall victories at Daytona and Sebring earlier this year.

***Ford’s GTLM class win could partially be credited to Michelin’s 2016-spec WEC tire, which debuted on all of its technical partner teams in the WeatherTech Championship at Monterey. The American manufacturer utilized the same tire, designed specifically for mid-engined GTE cars, on its WEC cars.

***While the P/GTLM race saw three full-course cautions, the PC/GTD event only had a single yellow in the two-hour race, for an accident by the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 of Tim Pappas, who lost a brake line in Turn 5.

***CORE autosport salvaged a podium finish in PC after its No. 54 Oreca FLM09 started from the pit lane, and was forced to serve a drive-through penalty on the opening lap. The team discovered a fuel pickup issue in warmup, which resulted in the penalty for not being on grid in time. Colin Braun charged from a one-lap deficit to end up third.

***All seven GTD manufacturers were represented in the top-seven in class, owing to IMSA’s new-for-2016 Balance of Performance process which generally received praise from within the paddock.

***Magnus Racing suffered a setback at the end of the morning warmup when the fuel buckeye failed and the No. 44 Audi R8 LMS GT3 caught fire. The team managed to get the car ready for the race in less than an hour, but was forced from the pitlane. Lally managed to make up some time at the end of the race

***Scuderia Corsa has no current plans to field its Ferrari 488 GTE car in additional races beyond the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen and Petit Le Mans. Team principal Giacomo Mattioli told Sportscar365 they haven’t completely ruled out a full-season effort but it would be dependent on additional sponsorship.

***Only six Prototype class entries are expected for the next round at Detroit, with both Michael Shank Racing and Panoz DeltaWing Racing not making the trip to the Motor City. The 1 hour and 40-minute race will feature P, Prototype Challenge and GT Daytona class competitors only.

Continental Tire Challenge:

***The No. 54 BMW 228i of JDC-Miller Motorsports driven by Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson arrived at the track Saturday morning and was able to make the grid. However, the car’s electrical issues were never fixed and Johnson was forced to bring the car down pit road only 3 minutes into the race before the ST class car stopped on track in Turn 4 after only completing four laps.

***Multimatic Motorsports’ Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell stretched their lead to 9 points over Marc Miller and Danny Burkett of CJ Wilson Racing, while Paul Holton and Pierre Kleinubing fell to third in the GS class standings following Saturday’s Continental Monterey Grand Prix.

***Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler of CRG-I Do Borrow entered the weekend leading the ST championship but fell back to 5th after their weekend went from bad to worse. First, Cattaneo spun the No. 44 Honda Civic Si in turn four on Lap 11 before electrical problems relegated them to an 18th place finish. Chad Gilsinger takes sole possession of the points lead after finishing fifth in class on Saturday.

***Marc Miller and Daniel Burkett lead much of the 2 hour snd 30-minute race before issues on their final pitstop took them out of the lead with 53 minutes minutes remaining. The race’s second full course caution of the day kept them in contention and Miller worked his way past Pierre Kleinubing on the final restart to finish in second place.

***Fresh off a third place finish in his second Continental Tire Challenge start Monterey, CJ Wilson’s Till Bechtolsheimer will race an Allard JS at the Historic Grand Prix of Monaco later this month.

***Cameron Lawrence had a solid first race at Laguna Seca in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si. Partnered with co-driver Chad Gilsinger, the pair ran near the front of the pack the entire day and finished in fifth place.

***Next up for the Continental Tire Challenge is Watkins Glen, as part of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen weekend on July 1-3.

John Dagys and Josh Farmer contributed to this report

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