Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Simpson tops opening day of Road America practice

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson topped the charts in the first day of practice for the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, as the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Road America.

Stephen Simpson’s lap of 1:55.057 was best on a rainy day at the Elkhart Lake track, the rain finally relenting in the second of two one-hour practice sessions in the afternoon.

Simpson and co-driver Misha Goikhberg have impressed all season for the John Church-led team, an elusive first win thus proving the only thing they haven’t accomplished. They sit third in the Prototype points standings heading into this weekend’s race.

The pair of Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.Rs (from Mustang Sampling Racing and Whelen Engineering Racing) were next, ahead of the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson – first of the Ligiers with Olivier Pla and Jose Gutierrez back in that car this week.

The new Ligier racing this weekend, the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Ligier JS P217 Gibson, topped the morning session with Renger van der Zande and Marc Goossens at 1:59.977.

The second session times were more representative with a smaller amount of rain.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 66 Ford GT (GT Le Mans) and the No. 54 CORE autosport Porsche 911 GT3 R (GT Daytona) topped the GT classes in the second session, while Performance Tech Motorsports led both PC sessions.

There were no major incidents during the day, the only real issues being that the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS and No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis didn’t run in the morning session.

Of note, the 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 lineups are switched up this weekend. Scott Pruett moves to the No. 15 Lexus he’ll now share with Jack Hawksworth, while Robert Alon goes to the No. 14 Lexus with Sage Karam. Also, the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE has been removed from the entry list. The team was incorrectly listed and is yet to confirm its race return to action for any further races this year.

Third practice runs at 8:55 a.m. CT and local time on Saturday.

RESULTS: Practice 1, Practice 2

PWC confirms 2018 season finale at Watkins Glen

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Pirelli World Challenge will end its 2018 season at Watkins Glen International, the series confirmed Friday.

The exciting finale will feature traditional 50-minute sprints for GT and GTS classes and 40-minute features for Touring Car classes.

The last PWC event at Watkins Glen was held in 2010 with sports car greats Ron Fellows (GT) and Peter Cunningham (GTS) winning the top two events and Robert Stout claiming the Touring Car race. The Pirelli World Challenge series premiered at Watkins Glen International in 1992 and has featured eight PWC years (1992, 1996-1998, 2007-2010) at the famed New York road racing facility.

“We couldn’t be more excited to welcome Pirelli World Challenge competitors, officials, leadership, and fans to Watkins Glen International in 2018,” said Michael Printup, Watkins Glen International President. “This series features fantastic wheel-to-wheel racing across a wide spectrum of sportscar classes and our fans are in for a treat on Labor Day weekend next year.”

In addition to the Watkins Glen season finale, the Pirelli World Challenge also announced its race lineup for 2018 with the GT/GTA/GT Cup divisions again being split into five GT Sprint (50 minutes) and five GT SprintX (60 minutes, two drivers) races. The GTS events, featuring GT4 machinery, will remain nine-weekends with a total of 18 50-minute Sprint rounds while Touring Car divisions will contest 40-minute Sprints in the class’ 12-race, six-weekend campaign.

The GT Sprint championships will be contested in the streets of St. Petersburg, Fla., and Long Beach, Calif., as well as at the permanent road circuits of Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and Watkins Glen. The GT SprintX championship will be campaigned at Circuit of the Americas (COTA), VIRginia International Raceway, Lime Rock Park, Portland International Raceway and Utah Motorsports Campus.

Details on the 2018 race regulations for GT Sprint and GT SprintX events will be announced in the near future, including the new pit stop requirements and other amendments to competition rules.

Featuring the GT3 and GT4 categories, the second annual SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge California 8 Hours is set to return to Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca on Oct. 26-28.

2018 Pirelli World Challenge Schedule

Date, Track (Classes)

March 9-11, Streets of St. Petersburg, St. Petersburg, Fla. (GT Sprint and GTS)
March 23-25, Circuit Of The Americas (COTA), Austin, Texas (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
April 13-15, Streets of Long Beach Long Beach, Calif. (GT Sprint)
April 28-30, VIRginia International Raceway Alton, Va., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
May 18-20, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Bowmanville, Ont., CAN, (GT Sprint and GTS)
May 25-26 -28, Lime Rock Park Lakeville, Conn., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
June 22-24 Road America Elkhart Lake, Wis., (GT Sprint and GTS)
July 13-15, Portland International Raceway Portland, Ore., (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
August 10-12, Utah Motorsports Campus Grantsville, Utah, (GT SprintX, GTS and Touring Car)
Aug. 31-Sept. 1-2 Watkins Glen International Watkins Glen, N.Y., (GT Sprint, GTS and Touring Car)

Special Event

SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge, California 8 Hours
October 26-28, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Salinas, Calif.