It was another banner day for Porsche North America, with Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet scoring their third consecutive GT Le Mans class win and a 1-2 finish for the German manufacturer in Sunday’s GT-only Oak Tree Grand Prix.
Tandy took the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR to a 27.267-second victory over the sister entry of Earl Bamber, in a race that saw Porsche lead flag-to-flag in the caution-free round at Virginia International Raceway.
The win propelled Pilet to the lead of the GT Le Mans drivers’ championship, while Porsche extended its margin in the manufacturers’ title race, heading into the final two rounds of the season.
The No. 912 Porsche of Bamber and co-driver Joerg Bergmeister were second, following an aggressive move by the Kiwi on Pierre Kaffer for position in the final hour, which resulted in contact between the two cars.
Kaffer finished third in his No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia GT, following a late charge that saw the German nearly pick off Bamber for position.
A three-stop pit strategy for the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GT3 of John Edwards and Lucas Luhr was rewarded by a fourth place finish, ahead of the sister BMW, driven by Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen in fifth.
Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen, who headed into the weekend as championship leaders, were only able to muster a sixth place result in their No. 3 Corvette C7.R, following a disappointing outing for the Pratt & Miller squad.
GT Daytona saw an equally commanding performance by Scuderia Corsa, which broke through for its first class victory of the season.
Townsend Bell pedaled his No. 63 Ferrari 458 Italia GT3 to a one-lap margin over the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 of Kuno Wittmer, who came home second.
The class saw a hard-fought battle early between the pole-sitting No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS of Dion von Moltke and the Ferrari of Bill Sweedler, which saw Sweedler make the race-winning pass for the lead on lap 15.
While both cars ran nose-to-tail throughout the opening stint, Bell extended his lead over von Moltke’s co-driver, Christopher Haase, during the middle stint, when his car began to fade.
Haase’s day went from bad to worse when he spun the championship-contending Audi with 28 minutes to go, forcing an unscheduled stop to clear grass out of the radiator and dropping he and von Moltke to fifth.
The No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Mario Farnbacher and Ian James completed the podium in third, ahead of the No. 97 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 GT3 in fourth.
Christina Nielsen, who completed her opening stint in the TRG Aston Martin without a water bottle, extended her lead in the GTD drivers’ championship with the runner-up finish alongside Wittmer.
She holds a six-point advantage over Bell and Sweedler heading into next month’s Lone Star Le Mans event at Circuit of The Americas.
RESULTS: Oak Tree Grand Prix