On a near-empty tank, John Edwards held off a hard-charging Toni Vilander to claim GT Le Mans class honors in Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, giving BMW Team RLL its third win of the season.
Edwards edged out the class pole-sitting No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE of Vilander by just 0.152 seconds at the line, after a come-from-behind run by the Finn, who pitted from the class lead with 35 minutes to go.
The No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM and the eventual third-place class-finishing No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR of Dirk Werner, however, opted to stretch their fuel to the end.
Edwards, remarkably, completed the final 1 hour and 16 minutes on the same tank, having been on a conservation run since his final stop prior to the race’s one-and-only full-course caution.
It marked the first career class victory for Edwards’ co-driver Martin Tomczyk.
Werner, who ran second in the closing stages, was forced to settle for third, due to the hard-charging Vilander, with the No. 3 Corvette Racing C7.R of championship leaders Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen in fourth.
In a similar fuel-mileage run, Scuderia Corsa claimed its long-awaited first GT Daytona class victory of the season.
Alessandro Balzan, who completed the a final 1 hour and 10-minute stint, took the class championship-leading No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 to a 6.550-second win over the No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Andy Lally.
Like the Corvette pairing, Balzan and Nielsen virtually need to only finish Petit Le Mans in order to be crowned back-to-back class champions.
The top three in Sunday’s race all stretched their mileage, with the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey completing the class podium.
Colin Braun in the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche led the closing stages but came in for a late splash-and-dash with four minutes to go, finishing fourth.
RESULTS: America’s Tire 250