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Pepper Rues “Frustrating” Red Light That Denied Inception Win

Inception Racing misses out on likely Motul Petit Le Mans GTD victory following untimely final pit stop..

Photo: Gavin Baker/IMSA

Jordan Pepper was left questioning a red light on pit road that ultimately took his Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 out of the GTD class lead in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans following a controlling performance for nearly the entire race.

The South African and co-drivers Seb Priaulx and Brendan Iribe settled for a second place class finish after leading a race-high 145 laps and appearing to be en route to the team’s first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory.

However, Pepper pitted from the class lead just as the two Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs took each other out in Turn 1 to bring out a full-course caution with 52 minutes remaining.

It was there where Pepper got held up at pit exit that allowed the No. 66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 of Mario Farnbacher, who pitted on the previous lap, to take the class lead and eventual win.

“It’s frustrating when the red light is on at the end of pit lane when it shouldn’t be,” Pepper said. “It doesn’t take away the performance from [Gradient].

“I don’t want to say we lost it and gave them the win. I think they showed great pace in the end and it was a matter of time before Mario was anyways going to catch me before the battle was on.

“It’s frustrating. Maybe the officials will look and say they did something wrong or maybe they did it right and our team misjudged how the rules were.

“We thought we made it in pit lane and did our stop. They did their stop the lap before.

“When I pulled down pit lane there was a red light and I was stuck by the Lamborghini, which stopped as well.

“They were delayed to pull away when it went green and unfortunately it was just a couple of tenths that split us.”

Pepper said the fight was then on between he and the German, with the gap closing to less than half a second at times until a race-ending yellow halted track action with five minutes to go.

“Mario was pushing and gave it everything at the end and I was obviously giving it everything behind him,” Pepper said.

“It was quite fun. The two of us were having our own battle trying to pass through the GTD Pro field as well. We kind of got stuck at the end when the four Pro cars were smashing into each other.

“That’s when he stopped his progression forward and I could try to make an attack. I had one or two opportunities. Maybe a bit of smashing between the two cars would have led to an overtake but I don’t think that’s a fair way to race.

“I wanted to make a clean maneuver if I was going to make one. Mario did an incredible job and congrats to them.

“For Inception Racing, oh so close again to a victory. We had the one that went away from us at Mid-Ohio an we’ve had two P2s now. I guess there’s more to come next year.”

Pepper and Iribe, who left the track shortly after his 2 hour and 30-minute opening drive to catch a plane to Barcelona to take part in Sunday’s Fanatec GT World Challenge Europe powered by AWS Endurance Cup season finale, however, still walked away with the Michelin Endurance Cup title in GTD.

“That’s what the goal was when we came into this weekend,” Pepper said. “To be on the podium is incredible.”

First Major Endurance Win for Acura NSX GT3 “Means A Lot” to Farnbacher

Gradient not only claimed its breakthrough first WeatherTech Championship victory but also the first major long-distance endurance win for the Acura NSX GT3 in worldwide competition.

It came in a come-from-behind run for Farnbacher and co-drivers Till Bechtolsheimer and Kyffin Simpson, whose No. 66 Acura started dead last after suffering multiple issues in the build-up to the race.

“We had this waste gate issue in qualifying which made a lot of question marks,” Farnbacher said. “Our guys tore the whole car apart and changed turbos, wiring harnesses, ECU… pretty much everything.

“The car was there and was running well. Now we’re here.

“It means a lot. Ten years ago, it was my first race in the U.S. at this track. I won it back then. Now exactly ten years later, I won again.

“I have a really special connection to this track. It’s great.”

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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