PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports claimed its first Prototype Challenge victory of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, thanks to a perfectly timed pit stop and drive by Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon in Sunday’s Continental Monterey Grand Prix.
Alon led the race’s opening laps before being overtaken by James French with 5 minutes into the two-hour Prototype Challenge/GT Daytona race completed. French pulled away from Alon and dominated the opening stint.
A full-course caution shook things up just prior to the 50-minute mark, when the No. 540 Black Swan Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R of Tim Pappas went off in Turn 5, resulting the race’s only full course caution.
Kimber-Smith won a very tight race off pit road with the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM09 of Renger van der Zande in a drag race, courtesy of being on the outside line.
The Briton held off repeated challenges from van der Zande in the closing hour, with both drivers also watching their fuel levels, with Kimber-Smith edging out the Dutchman by 1.736 seconds at the checked flag.
While the win marked Alon’s first in the WeatherTech Championship, it more crucially put he and Kimber-Smith tied for the lead of the PC championship with JDC-Miller Motorsport’s Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson.
A late charge by Colin Braun, whose No. 54 CORE autosport entry started from the pit lane and was forced to serve an early drive-through penalty, finished third after getting back on the lead lap through a wave-by during the yellow.
The No. 38 Performance Tech entry of Kyle Marcelli came home fourth, after a late-race battle with Simpson, who faded to fifth at the end.
In GTD, The Heart of Racing/Alex Job Racing’s Alex Riberas and Mario Farnbacher claimed their first win of the season with dominating performance in their No. 23 Porsche.
Riberas jumped away from Christina Nielsen at the start and set sail from the pack.
After a flawless pitstop and driver change, Farnbacher made a perfect restart to keep Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 behind him.
Over the course of the final hour, the margin see-sawed as they navigated lapped traffic.
Balzan closed to within three-quarters of a second with 20 minutes to go but was not close enough to mount a charge on Farnbacher.
Farnbacher crossed the line 3.632 seconds ahead of Balzan to take the team’s first class win since Detroit last year and the first for the Porsche 911 GT3 R in WeatherTech Championship competition.
Balzan and Nielsen claimed their second straight podium finish and unofficially take over the points lead by 6 points over Farnbacher.
James Davison and Brandon Davis rounded out the podium in the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3.
Magnus Racing’s John Potter and Andy Lally lost the points lead after a fuel buckeye failure caused a fire at the end of the afternoon warm-up and forced to start from the pit lane.
The penalty proved too much to overcome and forced them to a 13th place finish in class.
RESULTS: Continental Monterey GP (PC/GTD)