Spirit of Daytona on pole for GRAND-AM Laguna Seca

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Going into today’s GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, five teams are within five points of each other in the battle for the Daytona Prototype class championship.

But one of the DP teams not involved in that battle will lead the field to the green flag this afternoon. The No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP, driven by Richard Westbrook and Ricky Taylor, took the top spot on the grid yesterday with a lap of 1 minute, 21.557 seconds around the famous California circuit.

The Westbrook/Ricky Taylor combo has had a trying 2013 with just one podium finish to their credit so far, a third at Barber Motorsports Park. Naturally, Spirit of Daytona is itching to have a strong result today.

“We’re not happy with the way this season has gone; it’s been really tough for everyone,” Westbrook told GRAND-AM.com. “I’m proud of the way the team has bounced back. [Today] is very important for us.”

Starting alongside the No. 90 will be the DP-class leading No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette of Max Angelelli and Jordan Taylor. Angelelli narrowly missed out on pole by 21 one-thousandths of a second, but the No. 10 will still have a clear track ahead at the drop of the green.

As for the other DP title contenders, the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette of Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa will start fifth; the No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing BMW/Riley of defending class champs Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett will start seventh; the No. 99 GAINSCO/Bob Stallings Racing Corvette of Alex Gurney and Jon Fogarty will start eighth, and the No. 2 Starworks BMW/Riley of Alex Popow and Ryan Dalziel will start ninth.

A potential wild card is also in the mix at Laguna Seca, as two of Ganassi’s IndyCar drivers – Scott Dixon and Dario Franchitti – will start fourth on the grid in a second CGR BMW/Riley, the No. 02.

The GT pole for today’s race went to the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro of John Edwards and Robin Liddell. Edwards threw down a lap of 1 minute, 27.529 seconds to take the honor over the No. 31 Marsh Racing Corvette of Eric Curran and Boris Said.

The Stevenson camp is part of the GT class’ own electric title fight. Alessandro Balzan currently holds a one-point edge over the Magnus Racing duo of John Potter and Andy Lally, while the Edwards/Liddell combo sits three points back.

17-year-old youngster Tristan Nunez took the GX class pole for the No. 00 Speedsource Mazda 6.

IMSA: Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring Update – 3 hours in

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The opening hours of the Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring have been action-packed, with the early hours highlighted by racing that we would not expect from an endurance race.

For example, Acura Team Penske’s No. 7 ARX-05, currently fourth with Graham Rahal at the wheel, has had a couple run-ins with traffic, both from the Prototype and GT classes, as shown below.

Reports on happenings in the first three hours from all three classes are below.


Turn 1, Lap 1 proved to be a disaster for one of the contenders in Prototype. Olivier Pla, starting on the outside of the front row in the No.2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi, tried to pass polesitter Tristan Vautier, in the No. 90 Spirit of Daytona Cadillac DPi-V.R, on the outside.

Vautier held his ground when Pla tried to pinch him against the inside wall, with the two making contact and sending Pla into a slide across the outside of the corner. Although he limped around back into the pits, the team ultimately uncovered a terminal gearbox issue, cause by the contact, and retired car, ending their race before it ever had a chance to get going.

The lone caution of the opening hours also came in the Prototype class. Sebastian Saavedra, in the No. 52 Ligier JS P217 Gibson for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports, spun exiting Turn 17. In trying to avoid, Frank Montecalvo, in the GT Daytona class No. 64 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa, drifted out wide, but made contact with the right-front of Saavedra, which launched Montecalvo airborne and into the tire barriers exiting the corner.

Montecalvo emerged unhurt from the spectacular incident, while Saavedra returned to the pits for a new front nose on the No. 52 Ligier, and continued on.

Vautier, meanwhile, continued on unscathed and led the opening stint.

Just over three hours in, Eric Curran leads in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac for Action Express. The No. 22 ESM Nissan sits second in the hands of Nicolas Lapierre, with Jordan Taylor third in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac.

GT Le Mans (GTLM)

BMW Team RLL has dominated the opening hours of the 12 Hours of Sebring, with their No. 24 BMW M8 GTLM leading the way early on. Nicky Catsburg is currently behind the wheel.

Risi Competizion currently holds down second, with Alessandro Pier Guidi currently at the helm of their No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing holds third with Ryan Briscoe in the No. 67 Ford GT, though they had a clumsy run-in with the sister No. 66 in the pits early on, with both cars bumping each other exiting the pits.

However, no damage was done and both carried on.

GT Daytona

The polesitting No. 51 Ferrari from Spirit of Race also had a messy start to their 12 Hours of Sebring, with Daniel Serra getting together with the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3, in the hands Jack Hawksworth at the time. The contact cut the right-rear tire of Serra, forcing an early pit stop. They now sit 16th in class.

Montaplast by Land Motorsport leads in the way in the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3, with 17-year-old youngster Sheldon van der Linde at the helm. Running second is Corey Lewis in the Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, with 3GT Racing sitting third with Kyle Marcelli in the No. 14 Lexus.