True to modern North American sports car racing, the endurance contest at Road Atlanta that concluded the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season broke out into a series of sprint races, all of which Nick Tandy and the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR survived to win in GT Le Mans.
- Results: 2018 Motul Petit Le Mans
Running liveries inspired by the look of the Porsche 911 GT1-98 that won the 1998 running of the 24 Hours of Le Mans and participated in the first Petit Le Mans that year, the Porsche GT Team found success throughout the 10-hour race.
While it was the sister No. 912 Porsche that led after the first hour on the 2.54-mile road course, the twin Ford GTs fielded by Chip Ganassi Racing dominated many of the hours that followed with one of the two cars leading at the end of half of the race’s 10 hours.
Although Ganassi’s Ryan Briscoe led GTLM when 60 minutes remained on the race clock, Tandy assumed the lead of the nine-car class after final pit stops with Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner and Briscoe in close pursuit.
Briscoe’s car was unable to keep pace and fell off considerably, dropping outside the top five and leaving Milner and Tandy to deal with a hungry John Edwards in the No. 24 BMW M8 GTE that started from the class pole.
Hard racing over the final 15 minutes failed to hold Tandy back in the No. 911 Porsche. He went on to take an 11.443-second victory over Milner and the No. 4 Corvette C7.R in second. Tandy shared the race win with co-drivers Patrick Pilet and Frederic Makowiecki, just as he did at March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Edwards remained in the third position at the conclusion of 10 hours while teammate Alexander Sims brought the No. 25 BMW Team RLL entry across the line in fourth, planting both BMWs in the top five.
Briscoe rebounded to finish fifth but the effort was not enough to secure the GTLM championship which instead went Corvette’s way despite misfortune for the No. 3 machine.
After an earlier pit stop, Antonio Garcia spun the championship-leading No. 3 Corvette and made significant contact with the wall. The impact necessitated a trip behind the pit wall for repairs but the car made it back on track having lost only a few laps and finished eighth in class.
Garcia’s perseverance secured the GTLM championship for he and co-driver Jan Magnussen with assistance from Marcel Fassler.
Serra, Scuderia Speed to GTD Victory
Endurance driver Daniel Serra drove the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 to the finish in first position ahead of championship contenders Meyer Shank Racing and Paul Miller Racing.
Serra qualified the car on pole and started first in GT Daytona although he didn’t dominate the race, giving way to long periods of dominance by the Paul Miller Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Riley Motorsports’ Mercedes AMG-GT3.
Over the final hour, the race for the win came down to just Serra and Alvaro Parente in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 — the championship chaser. At the checkered flag, only Serra and Parente remained on the lead GTD lap with just 0.876 seconds separating the two.
With his victory, Serra denied Parente the chance to make it to the class lead and potentially secure the class championship for co-driver Katherine Legge.
Bryan Sellers brought the No. 48 Lamborghini he shares with Madison Snow to the finish in the third position. The podium result clinched the GTD title for the driver pair, who were assisted by endurance driver Corey Lewis.
Robert Renauer finished fourth in Wright Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3 R while Townsend Bell added a second Scuderia Ferrari to the top five with a fifth-place finish.
Four GTD competitors failed to finish the race including Turner Motorsport’s No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 which made heavy contact with the wall in Turn 1 after heading four-wide down the front straight.
The WeatherTech Championship will return to regular-season action Jan. 28, 2019 with the 57th running of the Rolex 24 at Daytona.