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Road Atlanta Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans…

Photo: Rick Dole/IMSA

***Pipo Derani and Felipe Nasr gave Action Express Racing its fifth IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams’ title in eight years. It marked Nasr’s second drivers’ championship and Derani’s long-awaited first season-long title in IMSA competition.

***Derani and Nasr won by 11 points over Wayne Taylor Racing’s Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor, who along with Alexander Rossi won the Michelin Endurance Cup title in DPi.

***Cadillac claimed its third championship title out of five years of DPi competition, breaking a two-year championship streak from Acura, which finished 113 points behind in second.

***Jonathan Bomarito said the race-winning No. 55 Mazda RT24-P got its three laps back “really quickly” courtesy of a number of full-course cautions and subsequent wave-by opportunities that put the Multimatic-run squad back in contention for the win after undergoing a spark plug change.

“We knew there’d be a lot of cautions through the race with so many cars out there,” Bomarito said. “But to get three laps back in two hours was pretty incredible. We did have some luck on our side with that but we’ll take it. These guys drove amazing. The car ran great. They changed the spark plug on pit lane in record time. ”

***Co-driver Oliver Jarvis explained they came into the pits on subsequent yellows after the spark plug change to diagnose a potential handling issue with the car that turned out to be tire-related at the time. 

***Ambient and track temperatures plummeted to 39 degrees Fahrenheit (4 degrees Celsius) by the checkered flag, marking the coldest race of the season since the night-time hours of January’s Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***The fastest opening sector of the race was set by LMP2 driver Scott Huffaker in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson. Huffaker beat the DPi cars by clocking 7.982 seconds through the short run from the start line to the exit of Turn 1.

***A post-race time penalty denied PR1/Mathisen Motorsports LMP2 class victory after rebounding from an accident in the second hour when Ben Keating clouted the rear of the No. 83 WIN Autosport Duqueine D08 Nissan of Naveen Rao that resulted in nose damage and put the car initially one lap behind after leading from pole.

***Keating and Mikkel Jensen still picked up the LMP2 drivers’ championship, with Keating earning his first season-long IMSA title after many years of trying.

***The race featured a total of ten full course cautions totaling more than three hours of running time behind the safety car. Half of the cautions were for incidents involving LMP3 cars although the longest caution period was for the massive seven-car GT pileup on the race’s fifth restart.

***The No. 54 CORE autosport Ligier JS P320 Nissan of Colin Braun, Jon Bennett and George Kurtz lost time in the garage with a fuel pressure issue, a similar gremlin that had initially plagued the team earlier in the weekend that prevented Bennett from setting a qualifying lap.

***Braun and Bennett headed into the race with a 54-point deficit to Gar Robinson, who ended up winning the LMP3 championship as a solo driver in his No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier. He shared the class win with Felipe Fraga and Scott Andrews.

***Team orders gave Cooper MacNeil and the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 the final GT Le Mans class victory. Kevin Estre was ordered to slow and give up his nearly 15-second lead to Mathieu Jaminet on the final two laps, which still ensured a 1-2 finish for the Proton Competition-run team.

***It was the first Porsche sweep in the class since last year’s season-ending Mobil 1 Twelve Hour of Sebring, which had been the last race where two Porsches had competed in the GTLM class.

***Corvette Racing’s Nick Tandy was unhappy with overall winner Harry Tincknell after the pair came to blows at Turn 10 with ten minutes to go. Contact resulted in Tandy’s Chevrolet Corvette C8.R retiring with broken suspension. No penalty was given.

***Tandy offered his view of the incident: “He could see that I was passing a GTD around the top of the hill. And then we get to the braking zone and the GTD is still there, and he just comes across and tries to take the line. You have to have a pretty hard hit to break the Corvette’s suspension.”

***Tincknell didn’t feel as though he was at fault. “From my side they were fighting two abreast. I was coming in fast and I braked in a straight line. I don’t know what happened. I know in that situation… I’m just always trying to brake in a straight line, especially if GT cars are fighting each other. I saw him come past me and locked up and went through the gravel. As far as I’m aware I’m not to blame but I haven’t seen [the video].”

***Saturday’s race marked the first time in recent memory that a Corvette did not finish the race. The class championship-winning No. 3 entry of Jordan Taylor was taken out in a multi-car crash in the fourth hour.

***The Heart of Racing delivered arguably Aston Martin’s biggest endurance win for its current-gen GT3-spec Vantage to date with Ross Gunn, Roman De Angelis and Ian James at the wheel. The car’s previous endurance racing highlight came with victory in a six-hour Nürburgring Langstrecken-Serie race earlier this year with a factory-crewed entry.

***Gunn felt that double stinting the final set of Michelin tires was the difference in the race. “I think that really worked for us because we didn’t have to do the slow out-lap in cold temperatures,” he told Sportscar365.

***Gunn’s rival Laurens Vanthoor took a new set of tires on his final stop which ultimately set the Aston ahead. “I changed all four tires in the hope that we’d be able to catch them in the end but they were simply better than us today,” Vanthoor said. “Even if we would have done things differently without thinking about the championship, I think they were just better than us today.”

***Wright Motorsports won the GTD Endurance Cup title after only entering the weekend with a one-point lead but earning first-place points at both the four and eight-hour marks. It came after an accident in practice that forced the team to truck in a spare chassis on Thursday night that resulted in a race to make qualifying on Friday afternoon. 

***Porsche, meanwhile, won its first GTD manufacturers’ championship since 2014, courtesy of its efforts from Wright and teams’ champion Pfaff Motorsports.

***Ben Keating and Rob Ferriol won the Jim Trueman and Bob Akin Awards in LMP2 and GTD, respectively, giving both drivers automatic invites to next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. Keating is expected to surrender his invite due to returning to the FIA World Endurance Championship full-time with TF Sport in GTE-Am although Team Hardpoint’s Ferriol admitted that he will “absolutely pursue it” if the “right opportunity exists” to go to Le Mans.

***Sportscar365 understands that Ferriol has already had preliminary discussions with Porsche on such prospects that could see him line up in a GTE-Am entry in 2022.

***The BMW M4 GT3 turned demonstration laps Saturday morning in the hands of Augusto Farfus ahead of its planned North American race debut in next weekend’s Hankook 24H of Sebring as part of a joint Team RLL/RMG factory effort.

***At least one existing GTD team is expected to be switching manufacturers next year.

***Pfaff Motorsports will announce its driver lineup for its expected move to GTD Pro during the Canadian company’s end-of-year holiday party on Dec. 14. As previously reported by Sportscar365, it is likely to feature an all-factory Porsche factory roster.

Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

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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