Michael Shank Racing has claimed victory Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, ending a more than four-year dry spell for the team in an incident-filled Continental Monterey Grand Prix.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, meanwhile, gave the Ford GT its historic maiden class victory in a fuel mileage run in GT Le Mans.
Ozz Negri took his No. 60 Ligier JS P2 Honda to 30-second win over the No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP of Marc Goossens, in a race that went the favor the Brazilian in final hour.
Negri took over the lead shortly after the second full-course caution and opened up a narrow gap over the pole-sitting No. 55 Mazda of Jonathan Bomarito, who spun while battling with Negri.
Bomarito pitted immediately for his final stop with 48 minutes to go, but took fuel only, and faded in the closing stages on worn tires and with other suspected issues.
It gave clear sailing for Negri, who along with co-driver John Pew gave the team its first victory since the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona and first for its Ligier-Honda.
Goossens and Ryan Dalziel finished a season-best second after starting from pit lane and serving a drive-through penalty on Lap 1 for not making it to the grid in time.
The No. 31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron completed the podium in third, after a hard charge by Curran on Goossens in the closing laps.
Mazda, which led every practice session and swept the front row in qualifying, dominated the early stages and opened up a 10-second gap prior to the first yellow. But both prototypes soon hit trouble.
First it was the No. 55 car of Tristan Nunez, who lost the lead in the first round of stops with a refueling issue, while Joel Miller’s No. 70 Mazda ground to a halt on track with a suspected engine issue just prior to halfway.
Following his spin while battling for the lead, Bomarito managed to limp home to finish fourth, ahead of the DeltaWing DWC13 Elan, which completed the top-five.
Contact between Christian Fittipaldi and Ricky Taylor while battling for third resulted in both Corvette DPs ending up in the gravel and bringing out a full-course caution just past the 30-minute mark.
Both cars lost laps and dropped out of contention as a result.
In GTLM, Richard Westbrook went the final 52 laps on a single tank of fuel to eek out the class win over the No. 68 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GTE of Alessandro Pier Guidi.
The Fords ran 1-2 in the closing stages, both gambling on fuel, with the second-placed No. 66 entry of Joey Hand pitting for a splash-and-dash with 5 minutes to go.
Hand was followed in by the then-second placed No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia just a few laps later.
Westbrook, however, managed to hold on by 12.545 seconds over Pier Guidi for the class win, and doing so only with a single stop.
It marked the first win for the Ford GT, in only the car’s 5th race in global competition. Westbrook shared top class honors with Ryan Briscoe.
The No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR of Fred Makowiecki and Earl Bamber completed the podium in third, benefiting from the late-race stops by the No. 66 Ford and No. 3 Corvette.
Garcia managed to come home fourth in class, followed by the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari of Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella, which completed the top-five.
RESULTS: Continental Monterey GP (P/GTLM)