Connect with us

WeatherTech Championship

GTD Title Battle Intensifies Heading into Final Four Races

Four GTD teams separated by 10 points heading into Road America…

Photo: IMSA

Photo: IMSA

With six races in the books and four to go in the 2015 season, all four TUDOR United SportsCar Championship class title battles are fairly close.

However, it’s the GT Daytona class battle that sees the top four driver pairings separated by only 10 points heading into today’s Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America.

Even more interestingly, none of the top four has won a race this season.

In a statistical oddity, consistency, rather than wins, has placed all of the Paul Miller Racing, TRG-AMR, Alex Job Racing and Scuderia Corsa driver lineups first through fourth in the championship.

Yet none of the No. 22 Porsche 911 GT America, No. 48 Audi R8 LMS, No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia or No. 007 Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 cars has finished better than second in a race this year.

The points-leading Miller pair of Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke, the latter new to the team after coming over from Flying Lizard Motorsports, have come closest.

But Haase’s contact with then-Prototype Challenge class leader Conor Daly at Lime Rock Park took both cars out of the race.

Even though von Moltke and Haase lead TRG-AMR’s Christina Nielsen by five points (171-166), neither driver is thinking about the championship at this stage.

“To be honest, even though we are in the second half of the championship, it’s too early to start talking about championship,” von Moltke told Sportscar365.

“We’re focused on maximizing the package we have to finish as high as possible. It’s the mindset we’ve had all season.”

Haase added, “We just have to focus on ourselves. What happened at Lime Rock can happen to anyone.”

Nielsen enters second in points, now with her second co-driver of the year in last year’s GT Le Mans champion Kuno Wittmer in for James Davison.

Nielsen, like the No. 48 pair, has three podium finishes this year, but with finishes of 10th at Watkins Glen and 13th at Daytona has a little more work to do to claw back the gap.

It seems hard to believe, but the No. 22 WeatherTech-backed Alex Job Racing entry of Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil is yet to win in the TUDOR Championship. But with finishes between second and seventh in every race, they’re again in title contention and just seven points back.

“It’s really possible to win a championship without winning a race,” MacNeil told Sportscar365. “The last two ALMS championships, we only won a handful each year.

“It’s now all about consistency and that’s one of the great things about Alex Job Racing. They’re very consistent. Everything is on point every time. That allows us to maximize our finishes and get as many points as we can.

“Luckily we got some good luck at Lime Rock when other cars crashed out.”

Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler sit fourth in points, 10 back, with only one podium finish but again, consistent results from third to ninth. That pair looks to rebound after Bell’s driver’s side door came off at Lime Rock last race.

“This could be a track that really suits us right now, and we’ll have to take advantage of that,” Bell said. “We’ve had a couple of races where we had really bad luck but we are still right in the championship mix.”

The last realistic contender – outside the 10-point window – is the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Ian James and Mario Farnbacher, 13 points back.

James and Farnbacher have won twice, but an 18th and last place result at the Rolex 24 has left them playing catchup all year.

“Obviously Daytona was a big setback for us and put us on the back foot points wise,” James told Sportscar365.

“But we’re looking forward to all the tracks. Petit we were really strong last year. Without the puncture we would have won. None of the races we are afraid of.”

Between the top four non-winners and the fifth-placed No. 23 car, the stage is set for a dramatic run to the finish in the GTD title battle.

The title contenders start third (No. 007 Aston Martin), fourth (No. 48 Audi), fifth (No. 63 Ferrari), sixth (No. 23 Porsche) and seventh (No. 22 Porsche).

Tony DiZinno (@tonydizinno) is Sportscar365's North American Editor, focusing on coverage of the IMSA-sanctioned championships as well as Pirelli World Challenge. DiZinno also contributes to and other motorsports outlets. Contact Tony

Click to comment

More in WeatherTech Championship