Photo courtesy of IMSA

CTSC race at Road America rain-shortened; Ford, Mazda win

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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The No. 59 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 has won the latest Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race from Road America, but with an odd ending as the two-hour race was called with just over 15 minutes remaining.

Following the second full-course caution of the race, caused when a pair of Aston Martin Vantages stopped at separate points of the 4.048-mile track, the race was then red flagged for lightning in the area, which was then followed by substantial rain. This all occurred in the second hour of the race with under 50 minutes remaining.

The question mark from there was whether there would be enough time for the race to get restarted with enough time for leading cars to pit, and then go back to race conditions. Once inside of 20 minutes, that decision was made by IMSA Race Control that determined there would not be enough time to do restart safely and complete the balance of the race.

It left Dean Martin and Jack Roush Jr., in the Ford, head of the field in GS, with the No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR of Dillon Machavern and Dylan Murcott in second and the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren 570S GT4 of Jesse Lazare and Chris Green.

Within the ST class, the field was a bit jumbled. Four cars – the Nos. 25 and 27 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5s, and the No. 56 Murillo Racing and No. 17 RS1 Porsche Caymans – did not pit for what would have been their first scheduled stops before the rain hit and the red flag came out. That meant each car’s second drivers, Stevan McAleer, Britt Casey Jr., Eric Foss and Spencer Pumpelly, respectively, did not actually take over the cars that were started by Chad McCumbee, Tom Long, Jeff Mosing and Nick Galante.

There is a 45-minute minimum drive time rule in this series, and it remains to be seen how IMSA will award points and decide the results following these abnormal circumstances.

All results are provisional pending further review. More will follow.

Hartley happy with ‘big progression’ on first day with Toro Rosso

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With 69 laps completed (28 in free practice one and 41 in free practice two) and respectable lap times in both sessions, Brendon Hartley quickly acclimated to a modern day Formula 1 chassis in his first run with Scuderia Toro Rosso in Friday practice for the United States Grand Prix.

The Porsche factory driver has been drafted into the team following a convoluted series of musical chairs that sees Daniil Kvyat back after a two-race absence, Carlos Sainz Jr. now at Renault and Pierre Gasly racing at the Super Formula season finale in Suzuka.

Over the time in the car today, Hartley experienced changeable conditions in FP1 before a more normal FP2, and discovered the new F1 cockpit after a day learning in the garage yesterday.

“A steep learning curve today! It all went pretty smoothly and I kept the car on track without making too many mistakes, so I’m quite happy,” the New Zealander reflected at day’s end.

“I didn’t really know what to expect from today because I just had so much to learn! I think I made quite a big progression throughout the day.

“The biggest difference from what I’m used to is the high-speed grip, it’s incredible here in Formula 1…it was quite an eye-opener! Another challenge are the tires, which are also quite different to what I’m used to. On the other hand, the long-run looks quite positive and I did a good job managing the tires there – the biggest thing I need to work on now is the new tire pace, and I’ll get another crack at it tomorrow morning before qualifying.

“All in all, I’d say it’s all coming together. We’ll now work hard and go through plenty of data tonight and hopefully I’ll make another step forward tomorrow.”

His best lap was 1.1 seconds up on Friday driver Sean Gelael, the Indonesian Formula 2 driver, in FP1 (1:39.267 to 1:40.406, good enough for 14th) and 1.1 seconds off the returning Kvyat in FP2 (1:37.987 to 1:36.761, good enough for 17th). Interestingly, the Gelael/Hartley combination in FP1 marked the second time in three races that Toro Rosso had a pair of drivers in its cars without a single Grand Prix start between them – Gasly’s debut at Malaysia was the other, when he and Gelael were in in FP1.

Coming into Friday’s running, Hartley said he was more ready for this opportunity now than he had been as a teenager. He admitted he’d called Red Bull’s Helmut Marko in the wake of Porsche’s LMP1 withdrawal news earlier this year to say he was game for any chance that might come.

“I’m a lot stronger than I was back then, basically. I wasn’t ready at 18 years old. I like to think I’m ready now,” he said.

“I haven’t driven a single-seater since 2012, but I like to think that Porsche LMP1 has hopefully prepared me well.”

As for the rest of his weekend, it’s been made more complicated by Hartley being assessed a 25-spot grid penalty, even though Hartley had done nothing to accrue the penalties.

The roundabout sequence of driver changes at Toro Rosso saw Gasly replace Kvyat, Kvyat replace Sainz, and now Hartley replace Gasly, as is outlined by NBCSN pit reporter Will Buxton below.