The #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron took home the win at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, scoring the brand a second consecutive victory at its home race.
Cameron brought the #6 Acura into the pits at the end of his stint with just over an hour to run and in second place. Things would soon change as the Penske pit crew joined the action, getting Montoya back out on track and crucially, in the lead of the race.
The car they passed in the pits for the lead was the car who ended the race in second, the #77 Mazda Team Joest RT-24P of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez. Jarvis started the race and in the first half of the event, it looked like it could have been Mazda’s day to take home the coveted first win they are still looking for. Again though, John Doonan’s team came achingly close and will head to Detroit eager for another shot at victory.
Once losing the lead in the pits, though, Nunez could not retake it on track. A late-race restart left the two cars nose to tail but Montoya pulled away and sealed the Acura win.
Ryan Hunter-Reay, filling in for Harry Tincknell, and Jonathon Bomarito put the second Mazda Team Joest RT-24P on the final step of the podium. Hunter-Reay did very well in his debut in the #55 Mazda but ultimately it lacked the pace of the front-running #77 Mazda and #6 Acura to challenge for the win.
There was late drama for the #55 Mazda and the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi.-V.R. when the two cars appeared to have made a pass on a GT Le Mans car under yellow. Upon further inspection but the officials only the #31 Cadillac committed the penalty and was given a drive-thru penalty. Luckily they still had room to breathe and it did not cost Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani fourth place, where they finished.
The race’s only full-course yellow came with under a half an hour to go when Colin Braun found himself deep into China Beach at Turn 4 in his #54 CORE Autosport Nissan DPi. The car appeared to have a broken front left suspension when it arrived back into the pits, it finished last amongst the DPi runners.
Back-to-Back wins for Porsche
Porsche made it back-to-back wins for the #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor. With wins at Mid-Ohio and last time out at Long Beach the #912 Porsche extends its lead in the championship.
“It was a bit of an unknown but we just did a perfect job, we extended the championship lead there is still a long way to go but perfect!” Said Vanthoor.
Similar to DPi the pass for the win would come in the pits when the Porsche crew worked their magic to get Bamber back out on track one position ahead of where he came in, crucially that position was ahead of the #3 Corvette C7.R. which held the led for much of the race’s first half.
Second in the class was that #3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia. The car had pace early on but once losing the lead they could not mount a series challenge to the #912 Porsche.
The final step of the podium was decided in the final dash to the finish when Nick Tandy squeezed his #911 Porsche 911 RSR past the #25 BMW M8 GTE at the Keyhole with nineteen minutes to go. There was side-by-side contact between the two as Tandy appeared to use the ‘bump-and-run’ tactic to get by.
The pair of Fords looked in position to benefit from strategy calls but the late-race full course yellow allowed competitors — who were close on fuel mileage — to save enough to get to the end without cause for alarm. The #67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe finished in fifth, with the #66 of Sebastian Bourdais and Dirk Mueller unable to turn their pole start into something more promising, they finished in seventh.
The #4 Corvette also had a disappointing day when it suffered a broken left rear axle just an hour into the event. The car spent about fifteen minutes behind the wall and eventually reemerged to finish last in class.
#14 Lexus wins dual with #86 Acura to take GTD spoils
The #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF GT3 of Jack Hawksworth and Richard Heistand took home the win in GT Daytona following a pass for the win on a late-race restart. Despite significant pressure from the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, Hawksworth was able to hold onto the lead following his late pass.
“This feels great!” Said Heistand “I was not super happy with my first stint but Jack [Hawksworth] did an unbelievable job. That pass on the restart was just incredible what he does at the end of a stint is incredible, I’m thrilled.”
It was a dominant run for the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 of Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher and they looked poised to take home the victory until that late-race Full Course Yellow.
Farnbacher took the restart in the #86 Acura and was unable to defend his lead from the pole-sitting #14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RCF GT3. Hawksworth went on the inside at the Keyhole and was able to nudge his way past and into the lead with twenty-two minutes to go.
The #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 of Bryan Sellers and Ryan Hardwick found themselves on the final step of the podium thanks to the misfortune of the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
The #9 Porsche looked poised to secure their best finish in the Weathertech Sports Car Series. Things fell apart though when Scott Hargrove had a significant off at Turn 1, hitting the tire barrier and beaching the car in the sand with just six minutes to go.
GTD saw the race’s only retirements. Those were the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 whose day ended when Robby Foley got caught up in an incident on lap one, that also sent the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07 into the garage for a hefty amount of time.
The #33 Mercedes-AMG Team Riley GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating also had a rough day. Bleekemolen hit the back of one of the JDC Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi.-V.R. on the run into Turn 2. This contact resulted in damage to the radiator area of the car and the hood flying up and blocking the view of Bleekemolen who did well to navigate his way back around to the pits.
The IMSA debut for the McLaren 720S GT3 did not go as planned for Compass Racing. Two spins and time in the garage meant the car could only manage 82 laps, 32 less than the winning car.
PR1 beats Performance Tech in P2
It was a quiet day for the LMP2 race-winning #51 PR1 Mathiasen crew of Eric Lux and Matt McMurry.
Their only competitor, the #38 Performance Tech ORECA 07 was caught up in a Lap 1 incident which left the #51 07 the only LMP2 on track for much of the race’s first half. Without a need to push Lux and McMurry guided the car safely around to give PR1 Mathiasen their first win of the year.
The next round for the championship is Detroit on May 31 to June 1. GT Le Mans entries will not be present at that round as they shift their focus to preparations for the Le Mans 24 Hours.
Photos courtesy of IMSA