Photo courtesy of IMSA

Patron ESM Nissan captures Petit Le Mans victory

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BRASELTON, Ga. – After dominant runs from both Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPis in today’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the team’s No. 2 car of Ryan Dalziel, Scott Sharp and Brendon Hartley emerged as race winners in the 20th edition of the October endurance classic at Road Atlanta.

Either the No. 2 or No. 22 car had a proper shot at the win, but two penalties served inside the final 15 minutes of the race changed the final outcome.

Contact between Pipo Derani in the No. 22 car with Ryan Briscoe in his No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, which left his car with a damaged rear wing assembly, saw him get called into the pits for avoidable contact.

Filipe Albuquerque inherited the lead at this point, in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, but that was short-lived too. Having been deemed to move Action Express Racing teammate Dane Cameron in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac to the grass in a three-wide move on the front straight, that saw him get a stop-and-hold penalty for unjustifiable risk.

Hartley in the No. 2 Nissan took the lead from there, with Cameron’s No. 31 car he shared with Eric Curran and Mike Conway promoted to second and Team Penske, after a roller coaster day of its own, back on the podium in third for the trio of Juan Pablo Montoya, Helio Castroneves and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 6 Oreca 07 Gibson.

BMW Team RLL signed off the career of the BMW M6 GTLM in style, with a win in GT Le Mans by Bill Auberlen, Alexander Sims and Kuno Wittmer in the team’s No. 25 car. Auberlen is making his 400th start with BMW this weekend.

Sims held off a charge versus champions Corvette Racing, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R they shared with Mike Rockenfeller. Garcia was in for the finish. The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE completed the podium.

In GT Daytona, the Montaplast by Land-Motorsport team avenged its runner-up finish in the Rolex 24 at Daytona to win at Petit Le Mans. American star Connor De Phillippi and his usual co-driver Christopher Mies shared the car with teenager Sheldon van der Linde to capture the win in the No. 29 Audi R8 LMS.

A pair of Porsche 911 GT3 Rs were next with Alegra Motorsports and Park Place Motorsports completing the podium.

Finally in the last Prototype Challenge race ever, BAR1 Motorsports ended Performance Tech Motorsports’ perfect season dreams with a flawless drive turned in by John Falb, Garett Grist and Tomy Drissi in the No. 26 Oreca FLM09, a 1-2 finish for the team.

Additional post-race notes are linked here. Here are unofficial results.

F1 2017 driver review: Lance Stroll

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Team: Williams

Car No.: 18
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 1
Best Finish: P3 (Azerbaijan)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 0
Points: 40
Championship Position: 13th

Lance Stroll’s arrival in Formula 1 at the start of the 2017 was a far from smooth one despite a significant private testing program being undertaken in the months leading up to his grand prix debut.

Even with older hand Felipe Massa at Williams, Stroll looked uneasy behind the wheel of the FW40 car through the opening run of races as he failed to reach the checkered flag in any of his first three starts.

The Canadian was left deflated after his first decent effort in Bahrain was cut short after a clash with Carlos Sainz Jr., calling it his “rock bottom” moment – but things would turn around on home soil.

Stroll produced a stunning fight through the field to take an excellent P9 in Canada, proving his talent seen in Formula 3 the previous year and shushing many of his critics.

Better would follow two weeks later in Baku when Stroll became the youngest rookie in F1 history to score a podium, dodging a crazy race to finish third. It would have been second had he not lost a drag race against Valtteri Bottas to the line.

Stroll’s form then fluctuated greatly. He was sublime on occasion, the best examples being Monza, when he started a remarkable P2 on the grid and ended as the top midfielder in P7, or Mexico where he took a brilliant sixth.

But there were too many weekends he was a little anonymous. Sure, Williams didn’t have the best car this year, but perhaps a little better was expected from Stroll.

2018 will be an even bigger challenge as he looks to the lead the team when a new teammate arrives – and at only 19, it is a lot to handle. Nevertheless, there are positive signs to be found; you just need to look for them a little.

Season High: Taking a shock podium in Baku after dodging chaos in front.

Season Low: A poor opening two races in Australia and China.