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Turner BMW Takes GTD Victory After Late Auberlen Pass

Turner takes GTD honors at Petit after Auberlen gets past Fraga on final lap…

Photo: Scott LePage/IMSA

Bill Auberlen made a last-lap pass on Felipe Fraga to claim the Motul Petit Le Mans GT Daytona class victory for BMW outfit Turner Motorsport.

Auberlen drew his BMW M6 GT3 alongside Fraga in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 heading into the Esses, which led to Fraga sliding wide and off-track after running out of fuel.

The Brazilian bounced across the grass runoff as Auberlen, who shared driving duties with Robby Foley and Dillon Machavern, carried on to cross the line first.

It marked the 60th victory in IMSA competition for Auberlen, who is now tied for career wins with five-time Rolex 24 at Daytona winner Scott Pruett.

The Turner BMW led for much of the GTD race, but needed to come from behind to claim its second victory of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season.

A late full course caution period with just over half-an-hour left on the clock handed a superficial lifeline to the Riley Mercedes, which had made its last green-flag pit stop with 65 minutes of the 10-hour race remaining.

This wouldn’t have been enough to reach the checkered flag under normal conditions, but Fraga – who led the race – had the chance to save fuel under the yellow.

But the Brazilian, who shared driving duties with Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, couldn’t keep Auberlen at bay in the final sprint to the line.

As Fraga left the road, Christopher Mies assumed second place in the No. 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo that the German driver shared with Ricardo Feller and Daniel Morad.

Land’s Audi had a tumultuous start to the race with Mies being handed a drive-through for his part in a clash with Scuderia Corsa Ferrari driver Toni Vilander in hour three.

This set the German squad off the lead rhythm for a while, but it gradually restored its place in the top five and was a victory contender by the end of the race.

Mies finished ahead of Scott Hargrove in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R that was also driven by Zach Robichon and Lars Kern.

Fraga was classified in fourth despite running out of fuel and not making the finish, while Vilander, Cooper MacNeil and Jeff Westphal placed fifth in their Ferrari.

It was an eventful race for the Scuderia Corsa crew, which involved Vilander spinning after a tangle with Katherine Legge’s No. 57 Acura NSX GT3 Evo in the final hour.

This incident ultimately resulted in the caution period that went on to decide the course of the GTD race.

Behind the Scuderia Ferrari, the battle for sixth decided the direction of the class manufacturers’ championship, which Lamborghini won for the second consecutive year.

Bryan Sellers, Corey Lewis and Marco Seefried secured the title by finishing their Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo 1.2 seconds in front of the Heinricher Racing by MSR Acura that Legge drove with Bia Figueiredo and Christina Nielsen.

Acura’s challenge was stunted at the end of the fifth hour when smoke started billowing from the rear of the No. 86 NSX GT3 Evo, in which Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher had already wrapped up the drivers’ championship by rolling off the grid at the start of the race.

RESULTS: Motul Petit Le Mans

Daniel Lloyd is a UK-based reporter for Sportscar365 and e-racing365, with a focus on the FIA World Endurance Championship and various electric racing series.

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