The PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team took advantage of opportunities that presented themselves Saturday, en route to the overall win in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
While Tom Kimber-Smith and Michael Guasch scored their third Prototype Challenge class win of 2015, Dane Cameron and Michael Marsal took the GT Daytona class win for Turner Motorsport as a fuel gamble paid off for the hometown team.
Kimber-Smith and Guasch emerged at the head of the field to score their first win in a sprint race after back-to-back wins to open the season at Daytona and Sebring.
While not the outright fastest car all weekend, the No. 52 Oreca FLM09 stayed out of harm’s way while the two prior class-leading entries hit trouble, and then Kimber-Smith made the ultimate winning pass for the win on track.
First, polesitter Stephen Simpson fell by the wayside in the No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports entry after leading nearly all of the first hour before pitting, and pulling out a lead of more than 44 seconds on the field.
Simpson returned from his stop but stopped on course in Turn 2 with a fuel pressure issue. The car resumed but lost several laps, and Simpson and Mikhail Goikhberg ended sixth.
The most dramatic moment of the race, however, involved both PC and GTD class leaders just past the halfway mark of two-hour, 40-minute race.
Conor Daly had assumed the lead in the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry but attempted a pass to the inside of the GTD-leading No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS, driven by Christopher Haase, on the Downhill on the run into Turn 7.
Daly was roughly 80 percent of the way past, but Haase’s right front and Daly’s left rear came together and sent them both hard into the tire barriers.
It opened up the lead for the No. 11 RSR Racing entry of Bruno Junqueira, with Kimber-Smith behind in second.
On Lap 133, with two hours and five minutes complete in the race, Kimber-Smith made the ultimate pass on Junqueira for the win into Turn 1.
The New York-based Englishman pulled away from there en route to the win by 8.079 seconds over Junqueira, who shared the car with Chris Cumming.
Starworks Motorsport (Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis) completed the podium with the points-leading CORE autosport pair of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett fourth.
In GTD, Turner won its first race of the season after surviving a late-race fuel gamble and running nearly 100 laps on a single fuel stint.
Marsal pitted on Lap 67 to hand off to Cameron, who was able to run 95 laps without a second stop. The run was aided by two full-course cautions.
The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R, with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating driving, was well positioned to pounce if the BMW ran out of fuel.
But Bleekemolen was unable to hunt down Cameron, and the 2014 GTD champion held off the Dutchman by 3.505 seconds.
The strategic call from Don Salama netted Will Turner’s team a home win not far from its base in Amesbury, Mass., and from Marsal’s hometown of New York, after a rebuild of the car from Marsal’s practice accident on Friday.
Behind the top two, Christina Nielsen and Kuno Wittmer scored their first podium as teammates, in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
The No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing and No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT Americas completed the top five, both having had late-race off-course excursions.
Unofficially, CORE leads PR1 by three points in the PC standings, with Von Moltke and Haase still ahead by five over Nielsen in GTD. Ten points separate the GTD top four teams.
The series resumes at Road America on August 9, with all four classes in action.
RESULTS: Northeast Grand Prix