A flawless day for Dane Cameron and Juan Pablo Montoya in the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 unfolded marginally faster than a similarly strong outing for Mazda Team Joest’s No. 77 entry, putting Acura and Team Penske on top at the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
- Results: 2019 Acura Sports Car Challenge
A strong start from the pole position for Oliver Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda RT24-P was followed by the first overall lead change of the two-hour, 40-minute contest when Jarvis and Cameron caught GT traffic for their first time.
Cameron grew and maintained a lead of more than 20 seconds during the opening stint, which lasted 40 minutes and set up a race-long duel between the Penske- and Joest-prepared machines.
Jarvis remained in the Mazda until the halfway mark and snuck past Montoya — in for Cameron after 40 minutes — at the keyhole turn, taking advantage of an opportunity initiated by contact between two GT Daytona cars.
With one hour and 20 minutes complete and the same duration still to go, Tristan Nunez took over for Jarvis in the No. 77 Mazda DPi. Forty minutes later, Nunez and Montoya were back on pit lane for their final stops but in reversed positions after Montoya overtook the Mazda on the 2.258-mile road course.
Incredibly close racing throughout the 36-car field was paused with just one full-course caution when Colin Braun ran off track at Turn 4 with 34 minutes still to go. Braun had replaced Jonathan Bennett in CORE autosport’s Ligier Nissan DPi after just 12 minutes and his mistake erased Montoya’s lead over Nunez.
The green flag waved again 10 minutes later and Montoya was not challenged, securing a repeat win for Acura and Penske at Mid-Ohio and their first victory since this race in 2018.
The combined effort between Cameron and Montoya stopped Cadillac’s undefeated record in 2019 at three races in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship paddock’s first opportunity to stretch its legs following the recent BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach.
Nunez took the checkered flag 2.022 seconds in arrears of the victorious Acura and led a 2-3 result for Mazda with Jonathan Bomarito guiding the No. 55 Mazda across the line 28 seconds later in third.
A late-race duel between Bomarito and Felipe Nasr in the No. 31 Cadillac DPi-V.R from Action Express Racing went Mazda’s way, due especially to a drive-through penalty Nasr was forced to serve for passing under a local yellow when passing the site of a heavy crash for Scott Hargrove in Pfaff Motorsports’ GTD-entered Porsche 911 GT3 R.
Nasr finished nine seconds behind Bomarito, who temporarily lost power in the No. 55 car at the same time Nasr was serving the penalty.
Ricky Taylor hung on to an unruly No. 7 Acura to complete the top five after second-place qualifier Helio Castroneves damaged the right side of the ORECA-based DPi in the race’s opening turns.
Jordan Taylor, Stephen Simpson, Filipe Albuquerque, Kyle Kaiser and Tristan Vautier comprised the second half of the top 10, all driving Cadillac DPis. Braun and the CORE Nissan DPi rounded out the 11-car class.
Despite consecutive frustrating races at Long Beach and Mid-Ohio, Nasr and co-driver Pipo Derani remain in the DPi championship lead by a margin of four points over Ricky Taylor and Castroneves of the No. 7 Acura. Jordan Taylor and Renger van der Zande are third.
PR1 Takes Easy LMP2 Victory
After Performance Tech Motorsports elected to have Cameron Cassels start the race instead of pole-winning driver Kyle Masson, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports was moved to the first position to begin the Mid-Ohio race and never gave it up.
Cassels tangled with GTD cars on the opening lap, damaging the No. 38 ORECA 07 and requiring a visit to pit lane for repairs. Featuring nine fewer cars than DPi, the secondary prototype division experienced an entirely uncompetitive day in Ohio as Matt McMurry delivered the PR1 Mathiasen team the win by 34 laps.
With LMP2 and GT Le Mans on the sidelines, the WeatherTech Championship will race next June 1 at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park for the second and final 100-minute street race of 2019.