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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Sequence: Placing a bow on the Laguna Seca weekend

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Sequence: Placing a bow on the Laguna Seca weekend

Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca was, in some ways, a traditional race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The headline race for the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix weekend featured a late-race cross for the general victory in Mazda Raceway’s iconic Corkscrew flip; a last-to-first, “spin-and-win” victory in GT Le Mans and an emotional victory celebration in GT Daytona.

Listed below are 5 takeaways popping out of the penultimate spherical of the 2017 WeatherTech Championship:

1. “The Cross” Revisited

Probably the most well-known moments in Mazda Raceway historical past occurred within the Corkscrew on the ultimate lap of the 1996 IndyCar race when rookie Alex Zanardi dove to the within of race chief Bryan Herta because the pair made the left flip on the prime of the left-right-left advanced of turns on the prime of the Corkscrew’s 10-story drop. Zanardi briefly skipped throughout the racetrack and off the course in entrance of a shocked Herta earlier than coming again on the right track and persevering with on his method to an unbelievable victory. It has turn out to be often known as “The Cross” in Mazda Raceway lore.

Renger van der Zande stole a web page from Zanardi’s playbook on Sunday, besides he by no means left the racing floor. With three minutes left within the 2-hour, 40-minute race, van der Zande obtained an ideal run arising the hill to the Corkscrew within the No. 90 Go to Florida Racing Ligier LM P2 automotive, enabling him to tug alongside chief Dane Cameron within the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R because the pair braked for the left-hander.

The 2 automobiles made slight side-to-side contact as they made the flip, however van der Zande was completely positioned on the within to take the lead, profitable two laps later.

“What a transfer!” mentioned van der Zande’s No. 90 co-driver, Marc Goossens. “That’s what it takes to win, and Renger simply did it. It was an ideal job!”

Brothers cand Cadillac DPi drivers Ricky and Jordan Taylor elevated their factors result in 29 within the Prototype class. Photograph by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

2. Taylors protect championship lead with podium end

Ricky Taylor’s pole-winning efficiency on Saturday within the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R was spectacular, as he outqualified his next-closest competitor, Christian Fittipaldi within the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi by greater than eight-tenths of a second.

When the inexperienced flag dropped in Sunday’s race, he as soon as once more managed to tug out to a wholesome lead early on earlier than the sector obtained jumbled up throughout a midrace pit-stop sequence. Following that sequence, Ricky’s youthful brother and co-driver Jordan Taylor discovered himself again in fourth place, and the group adopted a conservative method to protect the group’s substantial lead within the WeatherTech Championship Prototype standings — with solely the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Highway Atlanta on Oct. 7 remaining.

“We clearly had a quick automotive, with Ricky getting pole and main that entire first stint,” mentioned Jordan Taylor, who introduced the automotive house in third place. “However because the race progressed, with how the inexperienced was going and the way the tires have been dropping off by way of the stints, guys have been taking dangers with technique to type of play our hand. They have been forcing us to pit once we didn’t actually wish to.

“They might take these dangers with the place they’re within the championship, so each time they’d pit, we’d type of have to identify it and pit off sequence for us. That’s what caught us out with the (No.) 31 to start with. As soon as we misplaced the lead of the race, we didn’t wish to take an excessive amount of danger to get it again. It type of turned it right into a factors race, and to return again with a podium end, we’ve obtained to be proud of that at this level of the season.”

The Taylor brothers now lead No. 31 co-drivers Cameron and Eric Curran by 29 factors, 288-259, and can clinch the season title by fulfilling their base drive-time necessities and incomes factors on the Motul Petit Le Mans.

Antonio Garcia, Jan Magnussen

Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen left Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with a 19-point lead for Corvette Racing within the GTLM class. Photograph by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

three. Doing what they needed to do, half 2
The Taylors weren’t the one pair of teammates who have been factors racing on Sunday at Mazda Raceway. In GTLM, No. three Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia got here into the weekend with a 16-point lead within the season standings.
The group elected to forgo altering its setup for Saturday’s qualifying session, as an alternative specializing in a stronger automotive for the race itself. Consequently, Magnussen began the race from seventh on the category grid however managed to maneuver ahead because the automotive’s race setup got here in.
The group’s huge break got here when it pitted earlier than the lone full-course warning interval simply previous the midway level within the race. That put Garcia second for the restart, however he shortly surrendered that place to eventual race winner John Edwards within the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM, because the group opted to concentrate on preserving its championship rivals behind them fairly than difficult for the victory.
Magnussen and Garcia ended up fourth, stretching their result in 19 factors, 302-283, over No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe. Just like the Taylors, they solely want to satisfy base drive-time necessities and rating factors to take the championship.
“We had plan for the race that was painful to execute, but it surely labored,” Magnussen mentioned. “The painful half was at first, watching everybody drive away. Then issues would flip round on the finish of the stint the place we’d catch every part again and be within the combine. That’s nice technique that obtained us forward of each Fords and the No. 25 BMW. It’s a good way to go to Petit Le Mans, the place we are able to work on securing the producer’s championship.”
Ferrari wins GTD

Ferrari turned the seventh totally different manufacture to win within the GTD class. Photograph by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

four. Talking of producers…

The America’s Tire 250 provided a number of fascinating post-race producer nuggets. For starters, the victory for the No. 90 Ligier was the primary in WeatherTech Championship competitors for a brand new Gibson-powered world LM P2 race automotive, snapping a streak of consecutive victories for Daytona Prototype worldwide (DPi) automobiles at eight.

The ends in GTLM featured one among every of the category’ 5 producers within the prime 5 with BMW profitable, adopted by Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet and Ford.

Ferrari additionally turned the seventh totally different producer to win within the GTD class. In complete, 11 of the 14 automotive producers which have competed within the 2017 WeatherTech Championship now have received at the very least one race this season.

Cadillac has a commanding lead within the Prototype producer standings, 312-285, over Nissan, and can clinch the championship by scoring at Motul Petit Le Mans. In GTLM, Chevrolet leads Ford by 4 factors, 316-312, and must be the second-highest ending GTLM producer or higher within the season finale to take the title.

With its GTD victory on Sunday, Ferrari went from a one-point deficit within the class producer standings to a nine-point lead, 327-318, over Mercedes-AMG.

Nielsen and Balzan - pic

Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen within the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa 488 GT3 made it seven podiums in 11 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship occasions this season. Photograph by LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC

5. Ferrari’s Large Weekend

The Prancing Horse’s gallop into the win column at Mazda Raceway with Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen within the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa 488 GT3 capped an impressive weekend for the producer and was an applicable method to honor the producer’s lengthy historical past on the Monterey Peninsula.

Almost 60 years in the past to the day, Pete Beautiful received the primary race to be held on the iconic California street course driving a Ferrari 500TR. For Balzan and the Beverly Hills, California-based Scuderia Corsa group, the victory got here 5 years after their skilled debut collectively on the circuit.

“I actually needed it,” Balzan mentioned. “What particular and higher place to do it than Laguna Seca, the place I had my United States debut 5 years in the past.”

For Balzan and Nielsen, the victory represented their seventh podium end in 11 races this season, and gave them robust, 26-point lead over No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Jeroen Bleekemolen heading to Motul Petit Le Mans. They might want to make minimal drive-time at Highway Atlanta to wrap up their second consecutive GTD championship collectively and the group’s fourth IMSA title.

Toni Vilander practically gave Ferrari a GTLM victory as effectively. After qualifying on the pole Saturday, Vilander and co-driver Giancarlo Fisichella stored the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE in competition for the victory all through the race. Coming off the ultimate flip, Vilander obtained right into a drag race with Edwards’ BMW and got here up simply zero.152 seconds brief.

I gave every part I had,” Vilander mentioned after the race. “I did not wish to push him out within the final nook. It might have been good, however that is it. I simply drove as quick as I may. The automotive was good within the corners and within the exit of the corners and slightly bit much less within the prime velocity. At this time we have been P2 and we’ll take it.”

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