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 Virginia International Raceway.
***The post-race exclusion for the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS resulted in significant championship implications in GT Daytona, which has seen Andy Lally and John Potter slip from 2nd to 6th in the standings, and now trailing Scuderia Corsa’a Christina Nielsen and Alessando Balzan by 40 points. Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen have moved into 2nd, 20 points behind the Scuderia Corsa pairing with two rounds to go.
***Nielsen and Balzan battled through a tough race, which included an off-course excursion, puncture and overboost penalty, to finish seventh in class on Sunday.
***Last-lap contact between the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella, while battling for third in GTLM, ended in a spin for the Risi car for the second consecutive race, after the No. 55 Mazda took Vilander out of a podium finish at Road America. It made for a heated paddock post-race between the two GTLM drivers and teams.
***A strategic call to change tires after qualifying, which put the No. 67 Ford GT at the rear of the 21-car field, ultimately paid dividends for Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, who finished fourth on Sunday and have closed the gap in the GT Le Mans class championship to only seven points behind Corvette Racing’s Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner.
***The No. 4 Corvette C7.R recorded its first DNF of the season after an accident by Gavin with seven minutes to go. The pairing scored 9th place points, after running 6th at the time of the crash, due to a number of early race setbacks, including an off-course excursion by Milner and a subsequent drive-thr0ugh penalty for a pit lane infraction.
***In addition to the No. 67 Ford GT, two other cars, the No. 23 The Heart of Racing/AJR Porsche 911 GT3 R and No. 80 Lone Star Racing Dodge Viper GT3-R, started from the rear due to post-qualifying tire changes. Mario Farnbacher and Alex Riberas finished fourth in GTD, on a three-stop strategy for the lone Porsche in the GTD class this weekend.
Continental Tire Challenge:
***A scoring issue found in a post-race audit by IMSA resulted in three cars being credited one additional lap following the race. The No. 83 Next Level Racing Porsche Cayman of Greg Liefooghe and Ari Balogh, which initially finished 17th in ST, was re-classified to 2nd in class following podium ceremonies.
***The No. 38 Next Level Porsche and No. 99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin GT4 were also moved up the running order, to 9th in ST and 5th in GS, respectively. An IMSA spokesperson told Sportscar365 the scoring issue was related to the red flag period.
***CJ Wilson Racing celebrated its first overall Continental Tire Challenge victory, and first class win since Lime Rock 2015 (ST). “This is why we work so hard,” Wilson said. “The tough races and close finishes have been difficult to take but so happy for the crew – the way we have evolved as a team is definitely something to be proud of.”
***The win for Marc Miller and Danny Burkett keeps the streak of Canadian race winners in GS alive. Winnipeg’s Burkett joins Scott Maxwell of Toronto and Edmonton’s Cameron Cassels in having combined to win every GS race this season.
***The race featured a 52-minute red flag period for heavy rain, thunder and lightning, in what came as a sudden change of weather following hot and humid conditions all weekend. It caught out a number of competitors by surprise, with numerous spins, even when under full-course caution.
***Remarkably, a few cars remained on slicks the entire race, including the No. 18 RS1 Porsche of Andy Lally and the No. 36 Strategic Wealth Racing Porsche, which finished 20th and 19th, respectively.
***Maxwell and Billy Johnson’s points lead has been slightly reduced to 20 points over Miller and Burkett heading into next month’s penultimate round of the season at Circuit of The Americas. Bodymotion’s Cassels and Trent Hindman are third with 219 points, and mathematically still in with a chance as well.
***In ST, RS1’s Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante have seen their points lead reduced to just six points over Stevan McAleer and Chad McCumbee, following their 16th place class finish on Saturday. The Freedom Autosport duo came home 8th.