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Last Update 9/13/17

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
 
 

America’s Tire 250 Set For 33-Car WeatherTech Championship

Field At Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca

Penultimate Round Of 2017 Season Features Prototype, GTLM, GTD Classes

Thirty-three IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race cars are slated to compete in the penultimate round of the 2017 season on Sunday, Sept. 24, for the America’s Tire 250, the headline event of the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

The two-hour, 40-minute race features the Prototype (P), GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes and will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 5 p.m. ET. The race also will be broadcast by IMSA Radio, available on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.

It will be the first race for the lead Prototype class since the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America on Aug. 6. That race was won by No. 22 Tequila Patrón ESM Nissan DPi co-drivers Pipo Derani, of Brazil, and Johannes van Overbeek, of Oakland, California, who won at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in 2014 alongside then-co-driver Ed Brown.

The Tequila Patrón ESM team will have a pair of entries as it goes for its second consecutive victory. The team’s No. 2 Nissan DPi will be shared by Ryan Dalziel and team co-owner/driver Scott Sharp.

At Road America, the Patrón team finished one spot ahead of Prototype class points co-leaders Jordan and Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R driving for their father’s Wayne Taylor Racing team. The runner-up result for the Taylor brothers was their first podium since a run of five straight victories to open the season.

They lead No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa by 26 points, 258-232, and can clinch the Prototype class title at Mazda Raceway if their lead is 37 points or greater after the weekend. Just behind Barbosa and Fittipaldi in the standings are their teammates, Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R.

Both the No. 5 and No. 31 teams are each looking for their second victory of the season. Barbosa and Fittipaldi won the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on July 2 and Curran and Cameron took the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park one weekend later.

Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg, who co-drive the No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LM P2 car, have come close to victory a number of times recently, but are hoping to finally break through on the Monterey Peninsula. They’re the highest ranked of the LM P2 runners in the Prototype class.

There will be a total of three Gibson V8-powered LM P2s at Mazda Raceway. Jose Gutierrez and Olivier Pla will share the No. 85 Ligier for the Fresno, California-based PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports team. VISIT FLORIDA Racing fields the No. 90 Ligier for Marc Goossens and Renger van der Zande, who earned his first career WeatherTech Championship victory at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class in 2014. The PC class is not competing in this year’s race.

The battle for supremacy in the GTLM is currently led by No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R teammates Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen – winners of the most recent WeatherTech Championship race, the Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway on Aug. 27. The No. 3 co-drivers – who won at Mazda Raceway in both 2013 and 2014 – lead No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM co-drivers Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims by 16 points, 274-258.

Joining Garcia and Magnussen on the two-car Corvette Racing team are reigning WeatherTech Championship GTLM champions Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin in the No. 4 C7.R. Milner and Gavin won in the most recent WeatherTech Championship visit to California, the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach in April.

The BMW team, meanwhile, features Auberlen and Sims in the No. 25, with John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk in the No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM. Edwards won at Mazda Raceway in 2015 co-driving with Lucas Luhr. Auberlen and Sims, meanwhile, are looking for their third victory of the season after scoring back-to-back wins at Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, co-drivers of the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, are the defending GTLM winners at Mazda Raceway. Last year, they scored the historic first victory for the highly publicized program and are carrying the momentum of a runner-up result at VIR.

In the No. 66 Ford GT are German driver Dirk Mueller and Sacramento, California’s Joey Hand. Mueller and Hand also have won twice this season, the season-opening Rolex 24 and at Road America, and are currently tied for third in the championship standings with Briscoe and Westbrook, just one point behind Auberlen and Sims.

The Porsche GT Team brings its pair of Porsche 911 RSRs to Monterey, with 2015 GTLM series champion Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner sharing the team’s No. 911 entry and Laurens Vanthoor and Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni in the No. 912 machine. Pilet and Werner broke through with the first victory for the new, mid-engine 911 at Lime Rock Park in late July.

No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE co-drivers Giancarlo Fisichella and Toni Vilander round out the GTLM entry list. Fisichella and Vilander finished third last time out at VIR, their first event since a four-race midseason hiatus.

The Risi Ferrari is one of two race cars carrying the famed prancing horse logo on its hood in the America’s Tire 250. The other is the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, which currently leads the GTD standings and is driven by defending GTD champions Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan. Nielsen and Balzan have a healthy, 13-point lead (282-269) over No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 driver Jeroen Bleekemolen, but are still looking for their first victory of the season.

Bleekemolen, meanwhile, has won twice this season and welcomes back his longtime Riley Motorsports-Team AMG teammate, Ben Keating, at Mazda Raceway. Keating, a native Texan, did not compete at VIR as his home and businesses were directly in the path of Hurricane Harvey.

The No. 33 entry is one of three Mercedes-AMG GT3s in the field. Tristan Vautier and Kenny Habul are sharing the No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing machine, with Dan Knox and Mike Skeen slated for the No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes.

The team carrying perhaps the most momentum currently in the GTD class is Turner Motorsport and No. 96 BMW M6 GT3 co-drivers Jens Klingmann and Jesse Krohn. The lone BMW in the class won two races ago at Road America and finished a close second last time out at VIR. As a result, Klingmann is now third in the GTD standings.

At VIR, Klingmann and Krohn finished second to Jeroen Mul and Corey Lewis in the No. 16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, who dominated the entire weekend en route to their first WeatherTech Championship victory. Mul and Lewis share one of two Lamborghinis in the field, the other is the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Huracán shared by Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow.

The lone Audi in the field comes from Stevenson Motorsports. Andrew Davis and Lawson Aschenbach – who won at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and are currently fourth in the GTD standings – co-drive the No. 57 Audi R8 LMS GT3.

Porsche has the most cars in the GTD field with four, and three of those teams have won races this season. Alegra Motorsports won the Rolex 24 with lead driver Daniel Morad as part of the lineup. At Mazda Raceway, Morad will share the No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R with American Porsche works driver Patrick Long.

Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette won at Long Beach in a Mercedes, but switched to Porsche just prior to Road America and will once again co-drive the No. 50 WeatherTech 911 GT3 R. Patrick Lindsey and Joerg Bergmeister won at Lime Rock Park in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R, and Lindsey also is a previous GTD winner at Mazda Raceway, taking a victory in 2015.

Jon Bennett and Colin Braun complete the Porsche GTD lineup in their No. 54 CORE autosport entry, and while they haven’t won yet this year, they have won previously at Mazda Raceway – a PC class victory in the six-hour American Le Mans Series race in 2012.

Also looking to get back to Victory Lane this weekend at Mazda Raceway is Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian and its pair of Acura NSX GT3 race cars. Ozz Negri, who co-drives the No. 86 NSX with Jeff Segal, took the overall and Prototype class victory last year alongside co-driver John Pew for the Shank team. Katherine Legge and Andy Lally – co-drivers of the No. 93 machine – won back-to-back races at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park and Watkins Glen earlier this summer.

The deep GTD field also includes a pair of Lexus RC F GT3 machines from 3GT Racing. Scott Pruett – the winningest driver in IMSA history and native Californian who makes his home in Auburn, California – and Jack Hawksworth share the No. 15 Lexus, with Sage Karam and another Californian, Robert Alon of Los Angeles, in the No. 14 entry.

Practice for the WeatherTech Championship America’s Tire 250 gets under way Friday, Sept. 22, with the first of two, hour-long practice sessions starting at 10 a.m. PT. Friday’s second session starts at 2:50 p.m. PT.

Saturday, Sept. 23 opens with another WeatherTech Championship practice from 8 to 9 a.m. PT, followed by qualifying from 11:30 a.m. to 12:35 p.m. PT. Saturday’s schedule also includes the four-hour Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca 240 for the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge beginning at 2 p.m. PT.

The America’s Tire 250 takes the green flag at 2:05 p.m. PT on Sunday, Sept. 24. The weekend schedule also includes a pair of races for the IMSA-sanctioned Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.

 
New Porsche Goes 1-2 in Caution-Free WeatherTech Championship Race at Lime Rock

LAKEVILLE, Conn. – The two-car Porsche GT Team has come on strong since returning from the traditional midseason break for IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship teams to compete in the 24 Hours of Le Mans, and both cars delivered on Saturday afternoon at Lime Rock Park, when the team finished 1-2 in the two-hour and 40-minute Northeast Grand Prix.Leading the way in a race that featured the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes was 2015 WeatherTech Championship GTLM champion Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner in the No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR.  Pilet crossed the stripe 14.5 seconds ahead of Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche that Gianmaria “Gimmi” Bruni started from the pole position. It was the first victory for the revolutionary new Porsche 911 RSR, the first one to be configured with the engine in front of the rear axle. 

The No. 911 Porsche ran inside the top three positions throughout the race. Werner qualified third, but jumped to second at the start of the race and ran behind Bruni for the first 49 minutes of the race before taking the lead when Bruni came in for his first pit stop.

Werner pitted two laps later to turn the car over to Pilet, who rejoined the race in third place, but one spot ahead of Vanthoor in the No. 912. Pilet took the lead for the first time an hour and 17 minutes into the race once the first pit-stop cycle was completed.

Pilet lost the lead when he made his second and final pit stop, but reclaimed the top spot for the final time when Antonio Garcia pitted the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R from the lead. He would not be challenged the rest of the way en route to his eighth IMSA race victory. 

“It means a lot,” Pilet said. “Since the first race of the season, we’ve fought for the victory but never achieved that. It was great because everybody worked so hard. It went smooth all weekend since first practice. Both cars were really quick, especially the 912. We managed to get a really good pace during the long runs and we knew it was a key here to be strong during the long runs and it went perfectly.” 

It was Werner’s ninth career victory in IMSA history – including previous wins in both the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series and American Le Mans Series – and his third in the WeatherTech Championship. Werner joined the Porsche GT Team this season after spending the past several seasons with BMW Team RLL. 

“For me personally it’s a great day,” Werner said. “I just joined Porsche as a factory driver and to be the first together with Patrick, yeah, it’s a very good feeling. But it’s for the team and it feels good because they put in all the work, especially developing the car for such a long time, I think it’s over a year now. 

“The car has been driven and tested and its sweet because the last couple of races I think we were already good enough to win, but we always had a little something go wrong. So now I am very happy, especially a 1-2 for Porsche and in GTD also to have two podiums. It’s a perfect day.” 

It was the first win for the Porsche GT Team since last September’s race at Circuit of The Americas, which also was the last time the team swept the top two spots in GTLM.  

A fierce battle for the final podium spot between Martin Tomczyk in the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM and Garcia in the Corvette went to Tomczyk and his co-driver, John Edwards, by a slim margin. Garcia and co-driver Jan Magnussen wound up fourth in the No. 3 entry ahead of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, who rounded out the top five in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. 

The No. 67 Ford GT also claimed the DEKRA Green Award. The award – developed in a partnership between IMSA, the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) International – recognizes the cleanest, fastest and most efficient GTLM car in each race. 

Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Sunday, Aug. 6. The two-hour and 40-minute race will include all four WeatherTech Championship classes.

 

Tomy Drissi Dominates Inaugural 2017 Trans Am West Championship presented by Pirelli at Willow Springs
Driving the No. 8 Ghost in the Shell, Tony Ave Racing prepared Corvette, Tomy Drissi lit up the course at the legendary Willow Springs International Raceway for the inaugural 2017 Trans Am West Championship presented by Pirelli. The 2009 TransAm Champion cracked open the record books setting the fastest time of the weekend and winning the 100 mile event.

This was Tomy’s second trip to a TransAm podium this season, having just finished second place finish at the series season opener in Sebring. The win here at Willow Springs holds a special meaning for Tomy, given his history here and the proximity his hometown of Hollywood.

“What a great weekend,” said Tomy following the race. “Lacy, my wife, brought our two children, Jagger and Elin to their very first race. That was a lot of fun. Racing out here at Willow Springs is always special… but winning, man… that’s just awesome. I had a great car all weekend. Tony (Ave) promised me a fast a car… and he delivered. My crew guys were spot on with this thing from the minute we rolled it off the transporter.”

“The racing was really good,” Tomy continued. “Greg Pickett was giving me some heat early on, and then Kyle Kelley and I were swapping the lead back and forth. All the TA cars were pretty quick and putting on a really good show. I’ll tell you, I have to give huge props to Adam Carolla…he came out here and did a great job. I’m not sure he’s driven with this much horsepower under him before, but man, he did great!”

“Again, these Pirelli tires were great,” added Tomy. “It makes for great racing when the Series commits to a good tire… we can really go racing on the Pirellis. Also want to thank the people at Piloti, Racing Radios and RPMx for the help this weekend.”

After a nearly decade long absence, the iconic rumble of Trans Am engines makes its long-awaited return to the West Coast.  A stand-alone competition, the Trans Am West Coast Championship will have its own points championship and will be independent of the Trans Am Championship—which is held primarily on tracks throughout the East Coast, Midwest and South.  With the addition of a West Coast Championship, Trans Am aims to regenerate a historically vibrant competitor community on both professional and SCCA Club levels.  

Trans Am partnered the weekend with the Sportscar Vintage Racing Association (SVRA), as it does for many of its events in the Trans Am Championship. The Series will continue with the format of 100-mile sprint races and will enforce a modified version of the 2016 Trans Am rulebook while staffing the events with core members of the Trans Am Series staff, including the Series’ Technical Director and Chief Steward.  

Recently named VARA’s fist Hall of Fame inductee, Tomy brought along his famed 1970 Factory Chaparral Camaro.

“I’ve really been looking forward to catching up with the SVRA and VARA folks,” said Tomy. “There are a lot of good people involved and a lot of really cool cars. So I thought I’d bring out the Chaparral Camaro just for kicks. It was great playing around and having a little fun with it.”

 
 

 

 
 
       
 
 

BACK TO THE TRACKS

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 Interview By: L.A. Pierre - Back to the Tracks” is a  community awareness program we started back in 1993.   This program focuses on promoting auto racing as a sport  while also educating people of the dangers associated with  illegal street racing.   Click here for complete interview  

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