Nick Tandy said he felt like it was WeatherTech Racing’s race to lose Saturday at Virginia International Raceway with “karma” coming back to bite the No. 79 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre after a contact-filled fight for the lead in the final hour.
Tandy and Corvette Racing co-driver Tommy Milner secured the win in the Michelin GT Challenge after forceful moves between all three GT Le Mans cars in the closing stages.
A full course caution put the Proton Competition-run Porsche back into contention and saw Estre pass Tandy for second with 1 hour and 4 minutes to go, only to then make a forceful move around the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia moments later for the lead.
Tandy, however, got back around the Porsche with slight contact that was deemed a racing incident by IMSA race control, that dropped the Porsche factory driver to third before encountering an incident at Oak Tree that ultimately ended Estre’s charge.
“I know especially how fast that RSR should be around this circuit because I sat in it last year,” said the former Porsche factory driver. “If there’s a circuit you want to take the RSR, it’s this place.
“With the change in the BoP from last year, we knew they really could have just walked away with this race.
“Kevin is a good friend of mine. I respect him a lot; he’s a great driver.
“But when you start smashing into cars in front of you when you’ve got no real room or right to just put your car where it is, then… I think what happened was probably karma.”
Estre agreed with Tandy’s belief that the Porsche was the car to have on Saturday.
“I think we had more pace than them,” said the Frenchman. “I had some banging doors with Nick at the restart which was unnecessary because I passed him already.
“I could also pass the 3 car and then Nick went hard again on my side. I went back to P2 and lost some time in traffic and then I pushed too hard trying to come back.”
Tandy added: “It was a good race. But it’s always good to win the races when you really shouldn’t.
“I always enjoy a good fight. When you’re racing with people like Kevin and Antonio, Tommy and Jordan, there’s always going to be a good fight.
“We enjoyed it. We got the better of it. I’m just glad that my Corvette was up to the job and kept the wheels on it.”
Tandy admitted that he was initially concerned that his Corvette may have sustained damage by Estre’s impact, but ultimately came away relatively unscathed.
“I think it was down in Turn 4, the first real big contact,” he said. “It was quite a big hit on the wheel. Instantly I checked the steering but it was straight.
“You never know if you’re going to get a puncture or knock off the splitter off. I saw afterwards that we lost some aero parts at the front.
“You never really know so you just hope. But what I do know is how strong Pratt & Miller have built these Corvette C8.Rs – from experience in the past.
“It was nerve-wracking but that is IMSA GTLM racing, isn’t it? It’s good fun to be out there in the fight.”