Photo courtesy of IMSA

Petit Le Mans eclipses halfway mark in eventful race thus far

Leave a comment

BRASELTON, Ga. – The 20th annual Motul Petit Le Mans has eclipsed the five-hour mark, with seven full-course cautions thus far and a roller coaster race in three of the four classes.

At the five-hour mark, Dane Cameron leads overall in his final start in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R, before he moves to Team Penske. The race is through 197 laps and Cameron holds a 1.341-second lead over Filipe Albuquerque, his teammate at Action Express Racing in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac, who will be one of two new full-season drivers there next year.

Other class leaders include Kyle Masson (No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09, PC), Giancarlo Fisichella (No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE, GTLM) and Mark Wilkins (No. 93 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, GTD).

Before the halfway mark, the first points in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup were awarded at Hour 4 (full results by class and overall here) And the top three in those classes were:

  • P: 1-22-Nissan Onroak DPi, 2-5-Cadillac DPi-V.R, 3-90-Ligier JS P217 Gibson
  • PC: 1-38-Performance Tech, 2-20-BAR1, 3-26-BAR1
  • GTLM: 1-25-BMW M6 GTLM, 2-911-Porsche 911 RSR, 3-912-Porsche 911 RSR
  • GTD: 1-93-Acura NSX GT3, 2-96-BMW M6 GT3, 3-33-Mercedes-AMG GT3

Other hourly results are linked here: Official Grid, Hour 1, Hour 2, Hour 3

Here’s some notes thus far:


We broke this out separately, but the race for the No. 6 Team Penske Oreca 07 Gibson – which started on pole – was compromised almost from the start once Matteo Cressoni lost control of his No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 and pitched Helio Castroneves into a spin at Turn 10, and caused his car rear bodywork damage.

“Well, no. Obviously I’m not happy with it,” Castroneves said. “We got a good welcome to the sports car series but you know, we’re learning. I definitely expect the pace. The car changed a little bit from what we had in practice, I’m not sure what it is. It was much looser than I was expecting. I certainly was finally able to run with some DPi’s together. It was very difficult, to learn to deal with traffic is going to be a long learning curve, for sure.”

In the third hour of the race, during a full-course caution, the car stayed out to take a wave-by and get back on the lead lap. Into the fifth hour, Juan Pablo Montoya has taken the wheel of the car and sits third, only two seconds off the overall lead held by Johannes van Overbeek in the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi and with Filipe Albquerque second in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R.

That lead for the Nissan was short-lived following a storming series of laps from Gustavo Menezes, an LMP2 race winner at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and in the FIA World Endurance Championship, and in his first start in the festively liveried No. 13 Rebellion Racing Oreca 07 Gibson.


Fortunately for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R and No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 teams in Prototype and GT Daytona, they’ve clinched the titles by taking the green flag. Because neither car’s race went according to plan.

Cressoni, as noted, had damage from his incident with Castroneves in the first hour, which has left Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan playing catch-up the rest of the day and outside the top-10 in class. In the fifth hour, the car slowed on the backstraight and brought out the seventh full-course caution of the race. IMSA Radio reported in the car had a broken axle.

Meanwhile the day ended early for the Taylor group when Ryan Hunter-Reay, the third driver with brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, reported in a loss of power on Lap 98 on just his third lap in the car. It’s the team’s first major mechanical failure since the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2012!

“I’m not really sure what happened. It sounds like some kind of technical call in the engine. We had to park the car and pull from the race,” said team owner Wayne Taylor.

The same story – taking the green to take the championship – applied to Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in GT Le Mans in their No. 3 Corvette C7.R.


Two scary moments happened back-to-back in Hour 2. Gianmaria Bruni’s No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR sustained a fire in pit lane. He exited the car and a Porsche GT Team crewmember was fortunately uninjured in the conflagration, returning to action in a new suit.

Jose Gutierrez was also checked, cleared and released following his No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson going airborne at Turn 5. The car was mounted vertically after going into the tire barriers and scaling them.


  • Most IndyCar drivers entered in the race got the chance to drive by Hour 5. Scott Dixon and Sebastien Bourdais got in the pair of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GTs, while by this point in the race all three of the Team Penske drivers had cycled through its car and Hunter-Reay was in the No. 10 Cadillac. NBCSN IndyCar analyst Townsend Bell, who told us he’d lost a dozen pounds in training for this race, has also regularly been in the No. 23 Alex Job Racing Audi R8 LMS as that car’s lead pro driver.
  • Contact occurred between Scott Sharp’s No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi and Chris Miller’s No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson, Miller tagging the back of Sharp’s car going into Turn 10 and receiving a penalty afterwards for triggering avoidable contact.
  • Tommy Milner’s No. 4 Corvette C7.R got tagged by one of the Ford GTs in the Esses but recovered.
  • Three cars – the No. 86 Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 (Ozz Negri), No. 75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 (Kenny Habul) and No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RC F GT3 (Austin Cindric) – have hit trackside signage, the first two WeatherTech barriers and then Cindric a Michelin barrier exiting Turn 12. Cindric was trying to make way for the Penske Oreca to lap him on the inside.
  • The No. 86 Acura lost time with its splitter getting replaced, continuing the luckless season for Negri, Jeff Segal and Tom Dyer, now in a gold and black livery signed by fans this weekend, per a Shank tradition continuing.
  • The No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM, in that car’s last race, lost 10 laps behind the wall with power steering issues. John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk won’t be able to follow-up its win last race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, now co-driving with Nicky Catsburg.
  • A rear suspension issue halted Lawson Aschenbach in the final race for Stevenson Motorsports, in the No. 57 Audi R8 LMS.
  • What had been a contending car in GTD, the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3, went behind the wall in the fifth hour. Jens Klingmann, Jesse Krohn and Justin Marks share that car. Per IMSA Radio, a bad turbo sensor sent them behind the barriers.
  • A nightmare weekend for WeatherTech Racing with its No. 50 Porsche 911 GT3 R came to an early end with a gearbox issue. “We lost a QD system, which is a quick disconnect on the water system,” Greg Jones, WeatherTeam Racing Team engineer said. “This system actually cools the gearbox. The QD failed and we have a restriction to the water flow to the gearbox. Therefore, overheating it. If we had continued, it would have blown the gearbox up. It wouldn’t have been good. This is a tough way to go out.”

NBC Sports Group, INDYCAR partner on new TV and digital rights agreement starting in 2019

Leave a comment

NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR officials this morning announced a new partnership beginning in 2019 that will take the sport in an exciting new direction.

The new all-encompassing agreement includes TV and digital rights to all INDYCAR races — including the legendary Indianapolis 500. NBCSN has been INDYCAR’s cable partner since 2009, but this new agreement is all-encompassing and includes broadcast, cable, digital, streaming, and direct-to-consumer rights for all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices and more.

All races will be carried live, with eight races — including the Indy 500 — on NBC, while the remaining races will be televised on NBCSN.

Here is the official news release announcing the new partnership:



New Agreement Includes Rights to All Races, Qualifying, and Practices

Indianapolis 500 Moves to NBC in 2019

Indy 500 and Seven Additional Races on NBC Annually; Remaining Races on NBCSN; All Races Live Streamed on and the NBC Sports app

NBC Sports Gold Direct-to-Consumer Package Includes Qualifying, Practices, Indy Lights, and Full-Event Replays

STAMFORD, Conn. – March 21, 2018 – NBC Sports Group and INDYCAR announced a new, multi-year media rights agreement today in which NBC Sports has acquired the rights to present all INDYCAR races, qualifying, practices, and Indy Lights races across its platforms beginning in 2019. Financial terms were not disclosed.

The Indianapolis 500 and seven additional Verizon IndyCar Series races will be broadcast annually on NBC, with all remaining races televised on NBCSN. All races will be live streamed to authenticated subscribers on and the NBC Sports app. Details of NBC Sports’ 2019 INDYCAR schedule will be announced at a later date.

NBC Sports Gold – NBC Sports Group’s direct-to-consumer product – will offer a package to INDYCAR fans that features all qualifying and practices not televised live, all Indy Lights races, and full-event replays. Additional details, including the cost of the Gold offering, will be announced at a later date.

“We’re excited to have NBC Sports serve as the exclusive home of INDYCAR, which represents the most competitive open-wheel racing in the world,” said Jon Miller, President, Programming, NBC Sports and NBCSN. “We’re honored to bring the Indianapolis 500, one of the most prestigious events in all of sports, to NBC, further enhancing NBC Sports’ Championship Season. We’ve seen consistent growth for INDYCAR on NBCSN in the past decade, and we hope to continue that growth throughout the series by leveraging the television, digital, production and marketing assets that make NBC Sports a powerful media partner.”

“This arrangement brings all of INDYCAR to one home, increases our exposure and includes our first direct-to-consumer offer for our fans,” said Mark Miles, CEO of Hulman & Company, which owns INDYCAR and Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “We couldn’t be happier to have start-to-finish coverage of INDYCAR’s season with the NBC Sports Group.”

The 103rd Running of the Indianapolis 500, set for Sunday, May 26, 2019, will be the first ever on NBC. The Indy 500 will also be included every year in NBC Sports’ Championship Season marketing campaign, which touts numerous high-profile championship events that are presented across NBC Sports platforms from May to July, including the Triple Crown, The PLAYERS, Premier League Championship Sunday, French Open, Stanley Cup Final, Tour de France, and The Open Championship.

The entire Verizon IndyCar Series will receive unprecedented marketing and promotional support from NBC Sports, which will utilize not only its own assets, but many NBCUniversal assets as well. With the Indy 500 and seven additional races on NBC, INDYCAR will have the second-most races on broadcast television in all of motorsports.