Helio Castroneves shines on a damp track to win at Road America as AIM Vasser Sullivan takes GTD class win
IT WAS ALL ACURA VS MAZDA AS HEAVY DOWNPOUR CHANGES THE OUTCOME OF THE RACE
Before the start of the race, Canadian Roman De Angelis whose The Heart of Racing’s team was making a comeback at Road America could not take the start of the race as the team detected a problem with the fuel tank.
At the green flag, the two Acura Penske were ahead of both Mazda Motorsports; Dane Cameron in the #6 Acura Penske defending his position hard in the first couple of laps and the Mazda Motorsports DPi kept the pressure on the leaders.
Jordan Taylor in the #3 Corvette Racing passed GTLM pole sitter Laurens Vanthoor as the green flag waved followed by the #25 BMW Team RLL of Bruno Spengler in third.
At their scheduled pit stop, Bruno Spengler brought the #25 BMW M8 LME in third place as teammate Connor De Phillippi took over.
AIM VASSER SULLIVAN, meanwhile, were in the lead in the GTD class and conformably for a good part of the race. As Pole sitter Aaron Telitz led in the #14 Lexus RC F GT3, the sister car was not too far behind with Jack Hawksworth at the wheel of the #12. Following a series of pit stop, the #12 driven by Townsend Bell took over the lead from the #14.
As predicted the rain, a heavy downpour, came across the track in the last hour which created mayhem on track for driver to stay on the wet pavement with slick tires. As the rain started pouring, the #10 Konica Minolta took advantage of their schedule pit stop to switch to rain tires right away. This would have became a great advantage if it was not for a full course yellow coming out at the same time.
Earl Bamber in his #912 Porsche RSR and leader of the GTLM at the time lost control coming up to corner 1 where the track was drench in water and became a passenger, the car sliding through the gravel trap all the way to the tire wall. This brought the full course yellow and as drivers were tiptoeing around the track, Juan Pablo Montoya’s Acura Team Penske apparently ran over debris which
The red flag came out with 40 minutes to go as all cars drove back to the pits. Initially the race time should have kept going but to the discretion of the race official, they decided to stop the clock at 30 minutes left of the race. This brought new strategy for everyone.
At the red flag, Oliver Jarvis was shown leading the DPi class in the #77 Mazda Motorsports followed by Render Van Der Zende in the #5 Konica Minolta Cadillac and Helio Castroneves in the #7 Acura Team Penske third.
GTLM class was lead by the #911 Porsche RSR of Nick Tandy followed by #24 BMW Team RLL of Connor De Phillippi and Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette Racing.
Townsend Bell was shown as the GTD class leader in the #14 Lexus RC F GT3 with the #12 Lexus RC F GT3 in second and Lawson Aschenbach in the #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3.
Once the red flag was lifted, the pace car led the field on the full course yellow to allow each class to stop for wet weather tires.
The pace car pulled in to the pits with less than eight minutes to go and with a damp track the #77 Mazda had to pit to change tires as they were still on slicks. This left Render Van Der Zende in the #5 Konica Minolta Cadillac in the lead followed by Castroneves and Dirani.
The rain being a great equalizer, this gave us a great race to the finish. Castroneves made the pass on Van Der Zende with Dirani following closely. Edwards took the lead in the GTLM and Mario Farnbacher in the GTD class passed both Lexus.
On the last lap, Edwards and Tandy collided and this broughing out a full course yellow gave Anthony Garcia the lead and win for the #3 Corvette Racing. Townsend Bell retaking the lead from Farnbacher and giving #12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN Lexus RC F GT3 a first win this year.
Castroneves crossed the finish line in heavy rain to give Acura Team Penske a win at Road America.
Provisional result shows #6 Acura Team Penske of R.Taylor/Castroneves in first followed by #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac of van der Zende/Briscoe in second and #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Dirani/Nasr in third.
The LMP2 class was won by #81 Dragon Speed USA of Hanley/Hedman ahead of #38 Performance Tech Motorsports of French/Cassels and #18 Era Motorsport of Merriman/Tiley.
It was a Corvette Racing 1-2 in GTLM as the win went to #3 Corvette Racing of Garcia/J.Taylor with #4 Corvette Racing of Gavin/Milner in second and third shows #24 BMW Team RLL of Edwards/Krohn as it seems they were able to cross the finish line after their adventure with the #911 Porsche.
The #25 BME Team RLL of Spengler/De Phillippi was shown not running at the checkered flag and two laps down.
Finally, The GTD class was won by #12 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN of Montecalvo/Bell ahead of #86 Meyer Shank Racing w/Curb Agajanian and in third was the #14 AIM VASSER SULLIVAN. This makes it the third win in as many races for the AIM VASSER SULLIVAN team.
#76 Compass Racing’s McLaren 720s GT3 of Holton/Fergus were classified in eight place.
The next event for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is at Virginia International Raceway on August 21-23. This will be only for the GTLM and GTD class.
The DPi and LMP2 class will have a month off as they are to compete next at the newly schedule Michelin Raceway at Road Atlanta for a 6-hour endurance race replacing the 6 Hours at the Glen originally scheduled.
Image: Patrice Marchessault / PMstills Photography