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Laguna Seca Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca round…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

***Acura had its most successful weekend yet in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition with its DPi and GT Daytona class programs in three years, with the manufacturer claiming poles and wins in both classes, four podium finishes — out of a maximum possible of five for the brand — and 210 of the 227 laps led in Sunday’s race.

***It marked only the second DPi-GTD win sweep for the manufacturer, the first having come earlier this year in the six-hour race at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, also with the same drivers and teams.

***Both Acura Team Penske and Meyer Shank Racing have retaken their respective championship leads, along with Acura moving back into the lead in the GTD manufacturers’ championship, two points ahead of Lexus. Acura is now only one point out of the lead in the DPi championship, to Cadillac.

“We race to grow our people and technology at HPD, and weekends like this really reward everyone’s efforts and competence,” said HPD technical director David Salters, who will become the company’s president effective Dec. 1. “Coming into this weekend, our goal was to put ourselves in position to take the championship fight to the last race.”

***In the DPi drivers’ championship, team orders by Acura Team Penske has vaulted Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor to a two-point lead over the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Renger van der Zande and Ryan Briscoe, which fought electrical issues late in the race. Pipo Derani, in the No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac, still holds a chance of the title as well, with the Brazilian nine points back heading into next month’s title decider at Sebring.

***Remarkably, Taylor and Castroneves were eighth in the DPi points standings — at a 22-point deficit — following the second round of the season at Sebring International Raceway in July. 

***Dane Cameron, who relinquished the lead on the second-to-last lap to Ricky Taylor, was not fazed by the call, admitting they had utilized team orders last year to help he and Juan Pablo Montoya’s championship quest in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05.

“Last year we were the recipients of some good fortune from our teammates on the No. 7 Acura,” said Cameron. “That is one of the great things about racing for Team Penske. For us to finish 1-2 as a team, and for those guys to have the points lead heading into one of the toughest races on the schedule in the 12 Hours of Sebring, is exactly what we wanted to do this weekend.”

***Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber ended a 483-day victory drought in IMSA competition, with the reigning GT Le Mans class champions taking top class honors just one week after winning the Total 24 Hours of Spa alongside Nick Tandy.

***The win for the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 meant that the CORE autosport-run Porsche factory squad — which will be disbanded following next month’s season finale — has won at every regular-season circuit on the IMSA calendar.

***Sunday also marked a monumental day for Porsche, which saw Proton Competition claim the European Le Mans Series GTE championship in Portimao and Herberth Motorsport score a double podium result in the ADAC GT Masters round at the Lausitzring. 

***BMW Team RLL’s six-race podium streak came to an end on Sunday, with neither of the BMW M8 GTEs making it into the top-three, even despite the post-race technical infringement for the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin, which had initially finished third on the road.

***Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia’s GTLM drivers’ championship, which was clinched due to the teammates’ penalty, marked the 13th for Corvette Racing in the program’s 22-year history,

***Garcia is now a four-time IMSA champion, all achieved with the Pratt & Miller-run factory squad while Taylor has notched his first GT class title and third in IMSA competition after prototype championships in 2013 (Grand-Am DP) and 2017.

***The GTD class-winning No. 86 MSR Acura had a “social distancing” sticker on the back of its Acura NSX GT3 Evo, which had been taken out of contention in the last three races due to contact from other competitors. 

***The sticker worked its magic, with Mario Farnbacher and Matt McMurry having ended its bad luck streak of races and claiming a dominant win. It has put the duo with a seven-point lead in the drivers’ championship heading into Sebring.

***MSR’s sister No. 57 Heinricher Racing Acura made history on Sunday with it marking the first podium for a female-owned team in IMSA history. Jackie Heinricher said: “We want young women drivers and engineers to see what they can be in this sport. And, I want to personally thank Mike Shank. Without his support, guidance and mentorship, the last two years would not have been possible.”

***Sportscar365 understands that Alvaro Parente is scheduled to miss Sebring due to his full-season GT World Challenge Europe powered by Endurance Cup commitments with K-PAX Racing, which is currently scheduled to conclude its season at Paul Ricard that same weekend.

***Heinricher, meanwhile, has yet to confirm her 2021 plans amid MSR’s move to the DPi class.

***The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 finished seventh on Sunday after late-race contact from the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long sent Alessandro Balzan spinning while battling for fourth. 

***Balzan, in his second race back with the team on a full-time basis, said: “I am ok with hard racing when it is door-to-door, but this kind of racing is not too professional.” IMSA deemed the contact to have been a racing incident, with no penalties issued.

***Patrick Kelly, who claimed the LMP2 championship with PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports, also clinched the Jim Trueman Award, which includes an invitation to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Kelly previously told Sportscar365 of his Le Mans ambitions.

***The Bob Akin Award, which also gives an invite to the French endurance classic, currently sees a tight two-way battle between Wright Motorsports’ Ryan Hardwick and GRT Magnus team principal John Potter.

***Michelin’s tally of IMSA track lap records grew to 127 this past weekend with Jordan Taylor (GTLM) and Tyler McQuarrie (GS) setting new qualifying lap records while Corey Lewis (GS), James Vance (TCR) and Simon Trummer (LMP2) set new race lap records.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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