The #3 Corvette Racing C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen scored an unlikely victory at Virginia International Raceway, beating the #67 Chip Ganassi Ford of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe that finished second, and the Rise Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE which took the final podium spot.
The win was Garcia and Magnussen’s first in the IMSA GTLM class since the round at CoTA back in May this year. It was achieved by the Corvette crew making Garcia go on a fuel-saving run towards the end of the race which allowed the #3 C7 to take the lead by saving a stop.
Alex Sims and Bill Auberlen in the #25 BMW RLL M6 GTE which dominated most of the race was forced to pit with 15 minutes to go.
“I didn’t know how much fuel they were saving, so I didn’t know what pace we were doing,” Garcia said.
“I think the key was stopping one or two laps later than the Ferrari and the Ford, because I had really clear laps from those two. That made me so close to the Ferrari and especially to be ahead of the Ford coming out of the pits. Ninety percent of the race was that pit stop and being able to get in front of them.”
In the end, the #25 BMW ended up finishing fourth, and off the podium, after at one point holding onto a nearly thirty second lead over the rest of the GTLM field.
The Pole-sitting #66 Ford of Dirk Müller and Joey Hand meanwhile, spent most of its race staring at the back of the #62 Ferrari with little luck when it came to trying to get by.
The action in GTLM though continued all the way to the flag with the #4 Corvette Racing C7.R of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner battling #66 Chip Ganassi Ford GT, though coming together between Milner and Müller sent both cars sliding off track at the Roller Coaster late in the race. This promoted the #67 and the #62 back onto the podium and left the Ford fifth and Corvette sixth.
With the win by the #3, Corvette now takes the lead of the manufacturers standings away from Ford.
Dominant display by Change Racing
Corey Lewis and Jeroen Mul dominated proceedings in the GTD class, the pair leading most of the race in their #16 Lamborghini Hurcan, finishing just a second clear of the Turner Motorsports BMW of Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn which finished up second.
Third, and a lap down was the #33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 of Trent Hindman and Jeroen Bleekemolen, after a chaotic race for a lot of the runners in the GT3-based class.
It was an impressive outing from the Change Racing, which based in North Carolina, considers the VIR round its home race.
“I was able to hold off the Turner boys which was not an easy feat.” Lewis said. “This last lap is not going to be as easy as I thought it was.”
For the rest of the class, it was also a frantic race.
Lexus’ day started off on the wrong foot, and unfortunately for them would continue on that trend. The #15 3GT Racing Lexus RCF got turned around going into turn one, dropping that car all the way to the back of the pack.
From there it would be a tough day that wound end with thirty minutes to go when Scott Pruett carried too much speed into Oak Tree corner and went head into the barrier. Pruett, who was ok, got the car back to the pits but the team ruled the damage too bad to fix for the remainder of the race.
A turn later and the #28 Porsche with Daniel Morad took a trip through the very slippery grass at VIR. That would not be that car’s only trip through the grass with it making contact to the inside tyre barrier in the Roller Coaster, the car continued but a few laps down after repairs.
The #57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi with Andrew Davis behind the wheel had a wild ride through the Esses. The car sliding all the way through the grass but amazingly made no contact with either a tire barrier or another car. Davis only suffered a puncture and was able to nurse the car very slowly back home. The #57 Audi remained a few laps down for most of the race due to the lack of full course yellows.
With around two hours remaining the #93 Michael Shank Racing Acura with Katherine Legge and the #14 Lexus with Sage Karam made contact with each other.
It appeared the #93 Acura drifted over slightly and forced the Lexus to put its right side tires onto the grass. Karam showed his displeasure in the next turn by appearing to brake check Legge.
Then coming out of the turn the #14 Lexus was slow, Karam claimed the slow exit was caused by a lack of traction. The #93 Acura made hard contact with the #14 on exit, and Legge’s hood flew up but she was able to get the car back home for repairs, but the car was retired.
Acura’s day got even worse when Oswaldo Negri made contact with a Corvette and slid into the tire barrier at turn three, putting that car out of the race and resulting in a double DNF for MSR and Acura.
The #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari finished fourth, ahead of the the #38 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini which completed the top five.
The next round for the IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship is September 22-24 at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and will feature all four classes.