Sunday, December 16, 2018

Westbrook Earns Strategic Road America Win

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Starting first and second didn’t lead to an easy run to the checkers for either Ford GT, but a mid-race pass for Richard Westbrook put the No. 67 car in position to capitalize on a fuel shortage for the leader and take top honors in GT Le Mans at Road America.

Westbrook’s co-driver Ryan Briscoe ran in the third position after the start, giving up his place on the grid to Corvette Racing driver Antonio Garcia who trailed pole sitter and race leader Dirk Mueller in the sister No. 66 car.

Five caution flags served to mix up strategies throughout the 32-car field and set up a run to the finish with saving fuel being the top priority.

During yellow-flag pit stops for the leading GTLM cars, the No. 25 BMW Team RLL entry beat the frontmost Ford and Porsche 911 RSR cars out of the pits, assuming the class lead on Lap 42 of 66. With almost 64 minutes until the checkered flag, the stage was set for the Nos. 25, 67 and 911 to attempt to run to the finish without making another stop.

The Porsche was the first to bail on the strategy when it pitted again just 33 minutes later, leaving the BMW and Ford to battle it out. With two laps two go, Westbrook took the class lead when the BMW, driven then by Connor De Phillippi, ran out of fuel and slowed on track.

BMW M8 GTE races at Road America
The Road America debut for the BMW M8 GTE was one to forget for BMW Team RLL. | Photo: Aaron Durant / The Apex

Westbrook went on to take the checkered flag with an eight-second advantage over Tommy Milner in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R. The victory was the third of the year for the No. 67 and the fifth in 2018 for Chip Ganassi Racing — four of which have come in a row.

As the Fords’ earlier challenger, the No. 3 Corvette of Garcia finished just 0.860 seconds behind its sister car to give Ford’s fellow American brand two cars in the top three.

The pair of Porsches finished fourth and fifth with the No. 912 ahead of the No. 911 by 39 seconds.

Without power at the end of the race, the No. 25 BMW of De Phillippi was scored sixth in class ahead of Joey Hand and the No. 66 Ford in seventh. The Ford suffered a mechanical issue during the race and was subsequently penalized for work being completed underneath the car without proper jack stands.

The second BMW brought up the rear of the GTLM order, 14 laps behind the class leader.

Wright Porsche Wins GTD From Pole

Patrick Long led the opening 16 laps after starting from the GT Daytona pole and never dropped below fifth in class on his way to earning Wright Motorsports’ first victory of the season.

Long and co-driver Christina Nielsen ended the race having made only two pit stops and two driver changes.

At the checkered flag with 66 laps complete, Long and the No. 58 Porsche 911 GT3 R crossed the finish line with a 3.9-second advantage over the championship-leading No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Paul Miller Racing.

On the strength of its second-place finish, the Paul Miller car and drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow retained their GTD points lead.

Magnus Racing Audi speeds in Road America IMSA race
Andy Lally crashed heavily in Magnus Racing’s Audi on the final lap of the 2018 Continental Tire Road Race Showcase. | Photo: Aaron Durant / The Apex

Alessandro Pier Guidi pedaled the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari to a third-place finish at 5.1 seconds behind Sellers. Markus Palttala and Jeroen Bleekemolen completed the top five in BMW and Mercedes-AMG machinery, respectively.

Magnus Racing’s Andy Lally was flirting with a top-six result while racing with Kyle Marcelli but crashed out on the final lap on the run to Turn 12, promoting the pair of Meyer Shank Racing Acuras to seventh and eighth in class.

Lally was scored in the ninth position after the race ahead of Ozz Negri Jr. whose Squadra Corse Garage Italia Ferrari visited pit lane five times en route to finishing 11th.

Next up for the GT classes is the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on Aug. 19.

Ben Hinc
Ben Hinchttp://www.benhinc.com
Ben Hinc, managing The Apex as executive editor, has frequented media centers at racetracks across North America since 2014. Hinc's multi-decade passion for technology has resulted in a broad skillset that keeps The Apex running fast and without error.

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