Mazda’s North American Director of Motorsports John Doonan grew up at Road America. As a kid, he would walk through the forests to find lesser-known spots to watch the cars. Fast-forward to today and he was able to watch his own racing programme fend off a final-lap charge from the might of Team Penske and Acura.
Unsurprisingly, he was emotional after Mazda Team Joest took the win, its third in a row. “I can’t thank the guys at Multimatic, the whole crew. They have turned this programme around. I can’t believe it!” he reflected.
After a final lap bout that saw contact between the leaders, the #55 Mazda RT-24P of Harry Tincknell and Jonathon Bomarito extended Mazda’s IMSA win streak with a 0.227-second triumph over the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05c.
Dane Cameron in the #6 Acura and Tincknell in the #55 Mazda were separated by just five seconds once the final pitstops had been completed. The pace of the two cars was extraordinarily well-matched and it came down to traffic as the gap ebbed and flowed all the way to the end.
Cameron’s best chance at taking the lead came on the exit of Turn 5 on the final lap when Tincknell ran deep and compromised his exit. Tincknell darted to the inside to protect the lead just as Cameron stuck his nose underneath the Mazda, the two made contact but Cameron was not far enough along to press the issue any further as the two went nose-to-tail into turn six.
“I just had nothing less I pushed as hard as I could,” said an exasperated Tincknell after getting out of the car. “I was hanging on for dear life,” he added.
That move between Turns 5 and 6 proved to be the last opportunity for the #6 Acura to take home the win as Tincknell kept a car length between himself and Cameron from the Hurry Downs to the chequered flag.
The #77 Mazda RT-24P of Olivier Jarvis and Tristan Nunez also made an appearance in the last lap battle as Jarvis filled the mirrors of Cameron. The #77 Mazda was held up by the Compass Racing McLaren in the carousel, though and had its chances of a top two finish ended with the finish line almost in sight. That left Jarvis and Nunez to settle for third, finishing 2.887 seconds behind Cameron and Juan Pablo-Montoya in the #6 Acura.
Race control reviewed the contact between Cameron and Tincknell and ruled that no action needed to be taken.
Once again this was a Mazda vs Acura fight, the Cadillc and Nissan DPis were never really in the fight for the win. The #31 Action Express and Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac DPi V.Rs completed the top five respectively, crossing the line over a minute behind the winning Mazda.
Ford 1-2 in GTLM
The #67 Ford GT of Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe rode the momentum of their win at Lime Rock Park to Road America, winning a second race in a row. This victory marks the third straight year that a Ford GT has won at Road America.
“We popped the seal and it just keeps coming, it’s brilliant. We feel like we’re really on top of the car now.” Westbrook said.
The GT Le Mans field was split between cars that opted for a two-stop strategy and cars that chose a three-stop strategy. The pair of Ford GTs both chose the two-stop strategy, which involved running long on the race’s first stint. While the lead of the race cycled between all of the marquees as the varying strategies panned out, the lead fell into the hands of Ford once everyone had completed their final stop.
The #66 Ford GT of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller finished 10.657 seconds behind their teammates. Rounding out the podium was the #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor.
While the #66 Ford and #912 Porsche made a two-stop strategy work, they lacked the early race pace that the #67 Ford and #4 Corvette C7.R had. With no full-course yellows in the race, there was little opportunity for the #66 Ford and #912 Porsche to make up the time that was lost in the early going.
The only other car to try the two-stop strategy was the aforementioned pole-sitting #4 Corvette C7.R of Olivier Gavin and Tommy Milner. Milner had the car in third with under five minutes to run but they came up just short on fuel and needed a splash-and-dash to make it to the end. The #4 finished sixth in class.
Campbell steers Pfaff Porsche to GTD win
Just as Mazda and Ford extended their win streaks, so too did the #9 PFAFF Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R. After winning its first IMSA race of the season in a drag race to the line at Lime Rock Park they won at Road America by a more comfortable margin of 5.637 seconds.
“It was a fantastic effort by the team,” Campbell said. “It was a great result, in the end, everyone did a great job.”
Matt Campbell had been pressuring the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan for the lead of the race for a handful of laps. Once the #48 Lamborghini pitted, it gave Campbell time in clean air and allowed him to set laps quick enough to give himself and the #9 Porsche the lead once they completed their pitstop.
That pass in the pits ended up being the deciding factor for the GTD victory. Once in the lead, Campbell was able to pull away from Sellers in the #48 Lamborghini at the same pace that he originally reeled him in at.
Sellers and Corey Lewis in the #48 Lamborghini came home in second after leading in the middle portions of the race.
The Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 rounded out the podium with Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley. They finished 20.321 seconds behind the winning #9 Porsche, illustrative of the pace the front of the GTD field managed with no full course-yellows to break up the action.
PR1 wins LMP2
The #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA 07 of Matt McMurry and Patrick Kelly took home the win in LMP2. They bested the #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07 by 31.356 seconds.
The #38 ORECA of James French and Cameron Cassels needed to make an extra pitstop for a puncture which allowed the #52 ORECA to cruise away to their third straight win following victories at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tyre Motorsports Park.
Photos courtesy of IMSA