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ESM Ends Cadillac’s Win Streak At Road America

Ford wins in GTLM

Luis Felipe ‘Pipo’ Derani and Johannes Van Overbeek, driving the #22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi, won the IMSA WeatherTech Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America, ending domination of the Cadillac DPis, which won each of the first six races of the year. Second in the DPi class at the chequered flag, and 2.356 seconds behind, was the Pole-sitting #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi driven by Ricky and Jordan Taylor.

Taking the final podium position in the DPi class was the sister Tequila Patron ESM entry, the #2 Nissan DP1 driven by Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel, making it a double podium for the ESM team.

The pole-sitting #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi, started by Ricky Taylor, held the lead in the opening stages of the two-hour, 40 minute race but safety car periods late in the race meant that differing fuel strategies came into play in the final 40 minutes.

Derani, in the #22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi, got a run on the #10 Cadillac DPi at the re-start after the final safety car and overtook Jordan Taylor to move up to second. Stephen Simpson, driving the leading #85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 needed to stop for fuel with 25 minutes remaining, allowing Derani to take the lead which he held to the chequered flag.

“I knew on the restart that it was my only chance to overtake the #10,” said Derani. “They said it would be difficult because the track is high-downforce and you lose that when you get really close to a guy.

“I used the slipstream, though, to pass him. Outside on Turn 1 was the only place to go. I knew he’d play it safe because they were going for the championship. I’m glad it worked out because the team was working so hard. This win means a lot to me.”

Following their second place finish, the Taylor brothers maintained their lead in the Drivers Standings and were happy with the result.

“I didn’t want to take a ton of risk’” said Jordan Taylor. “There was no point in taking the risk, those three points or seven on other cars. It was good to get in a rhythm after Watkins Glen and Mosport. So we’ll take the points and head on to Laguna Seca,”

The win at Road America was Derani’s third IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory and his first since the 2016 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Ford takes GTLM honours

In GTLM, victory went to the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT piloted by Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand with the #912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria Bruni just .621 seconds behind in second place. Third in the GTLM class was the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry, piloted by Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.

After having led for much of the two-hour, 40 minute race, the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, with Joey Hand at the wheel of the car he shares with Dirk Mueller, found itself behind the #912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR driven by Laurens Vanthoor during a Safety Car period with a little over half an hour remaining. Hand passed Vanthoor, however, on the restart to take the first win for the manufacture in seven starts in the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

“We’ve had some bad luck, but moving forward hopefully we can carry this momentum to a championship,” said Joey Hand. “GTLM is a tough, tough category with lots of good guys and lots of good teams. You don’t want to get in the mix, which is what happened in the beginning. I got into my teammate and the #911 and got out a little on the grass but I was able to use the restart to get around them. The traffic made it interesting there at the end but this was a good one for us.”

In the GT Le Mans Teams standings, the #66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entry is now right back in the Championship battle with 231 points, eight points behind the leading #3 Corvette Racing entry, with the #25 BMW Team RLL car just one point behind on 230 points.

Dominant run for Turner Motorsports

The GT Daytona class was won by the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 driven by Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn in dominant fashion with the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Lindsey and Jorg Bergmeister in second place. The final podium position in the GT Daytona class went to the #57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3, with Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis sharing the driving duties.

Reflecting on his third win in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Klingmann was pleased at how the team and car had performed.

“Last year we finished P7 so I wasn’t optimistic because the cars are the same,” said the German driver, who with Krohn led all but two of the 67 laps. “But when we practiced we realized we were competitive. Then Jesse was leading the race and we had a big lead on P2. Sometimes it plays out your way and other days it doesn’t. Sometimes you have to get lucky and today we did.”

After its fifth place finish, the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, driven by Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen continues to lead the GT Daytona Teams standings on 254 points, 15 points ahead of the #33 Riley Motorsports – Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen, who finished fourth at Road America.

Another win for French and O’Ward in PC

Prototype Challenge was won by the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry driven by James French and Patricio O’Ward with the #26 BAR1 Motorsports entry, driven by Mark Kvamme and Gustavo Yacaman in second. It continued the duo’s unbroken winning run in 2017.

Driver French was delighted at the victory.

“It feels pretty excellent to be honest,” said French. “This is my sixth time in this car here and no victories up to this point. Now it’s great to finally check it off the bucket (list). ‘Pato’ (Patricio O’Ward) did a great stint under the green. We got caught off-guard by the yellow, but were able to stay out in front.”

“The team did a good job of keeping us calm and keeping the car on the right track,” continued French. “It was overall a great day. The car was so fast and we kept improving over the day. At the end we got the win on the list and now we get to go on to Petit Le Mans.”

The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports entry now leads the Prototype Challenge Teams standings by 35 points over the #26 BAR1 entry.

The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now moves to Virginia International Raceway on August 25 – 27 for the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR.

Photo courtesy of ESM