PWC: Bentley, Dyson gear up for Road America debut

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While NASCAR’s Nationwide Series races at Road America this Saturday, one of the series on the undercards is the Pirelli World Challenge Championships with a doubleheader weekend of its own for all six of its categories.

One of the cars to watch – perhaps the car to watch within PWC GT this weekend – is the debuting Bentley Continental GT3, in the hands of Dyson Racing with Team Bentley. It had its first test at the track this month.

Dyson veteran Butch Leitzinger will be behind the wheel of the No. 08 Bentley/Breitling/Mobil 1 Bentley Continental GT3 at a track where he has excelled in the past. He has two sports car class victories at the Elkhart Lake road course, most recently in the American Le Mans Series’ Prototype Challenge category in 2011.

Leitzinger’s Bentley is one of 12 cars within the GT class, that also features manufacturer entries from Cadillac, Audi, McLaren, Ferrari, Porsche and Reiter Engineering Lamborghini. Mercedes-Benz and SRT Viper add to the manufacturer diversity in the GT-A subcategory.

“Chris and Rob (Dyson, the team’s founder and president) had been speaking with me about an undefined project they had in mind and I was of course interested in renewing my relationship with them and the team,” Leitzinger said in a team release. “I also knew that Bentley was getting back into racing, this time with a racing version of the Continental. To my surprise these two projects turned out to be the same – and happily I’ll be driving.”

Dyson, who raced the 24 Hours of Le Mans this past weekend with Caterham Racing, expanded briefly on the Bentley program.

“The Bentley program is extremely exciting. We had our first test, so we’re up and running,” Dyson told MotorSportsTalk. “I feel like a switchboard operator sometimes. My family gives me the stability and a lot of great people help make my life possible. Nobody does this alone. If you’re around good people, good things will happen.”

Races for PWC occur on Friday and Saturday, and will be aired on NBCSN Friday, July 4, at 6:30 p.m. ET.

Meyer Shank Racing wins Petit Le Mans to take final DPi championship in dramatic finale

Petit Le Mans championship
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Meyer Shank Racing outdueled Wayne Taylor Racing to win the Petit Le Mans and clinch the championship in the final race for the DPi division.

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a victory over Pipo Derani in the the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season finale at Michelin Road Atlanta.

In between those two victories, the No. 60 earned five runner-up finishes to stay in the thick of the championship hunt and trail WTR’s No. 10 Acura by 14 points entering Saturday’s race.

WTR’s Filipe Albuquerque had a lead of more than 10 seconds over Blomqvist with less than 50 minutes remaining in the 10-hour race.

But a Turn 1 crash between the Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillacs brought out a yellow that sent both Acuras into the pits from the top two positions.

Though he entered in second, Blomqvist barely beat Albuquerque out of the pits, and he held the lead for the final 45 minutes.

Albuquerque closed within a few car lengths of Blomqvist with 14 minutes remaining, but he damaged his suspension because of contact with a GT car in Turn 1.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing.

Kamui Kobayashi finished third in the No. 48 Cadillac of Action Express that also includes Jimmie Johnson and Mike Rockenfeller.

The podium showing marked Johnson’s last scheduled race in IMSA’s top prototype division. The seven-time NASCAR Cup Series champion has raced in the No. 48 Ally Cadillac lineup as the Action Express entry has run the Endurance Cup races.

With the rebranding of DPi to GTP for the new LMDh cars, Johnson said a lack of inventory will preclude him having a 2023 ride in the top category. But he still is hopeful of racing the Garage 56 Next Gen Camaro in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans and possibly running in a lower class for the Rolex 24 at Daytona.

“I’d love to be at Le Mans next year,” Johnson told NBC Sports’ Dillon Welch after his final stint Saturday. “I’d love to be at the Rolex 24. The series is going through a shake-up with the reconfiguration of the rules and classes, so I don’t have anything locked down yet, but I’m so thankful for this experience with Action. The support Ally has given us, Mr. Hendrick, Chad Knaus, all of Hendrick Motorsports. It’s been a fun two years, and I certainly hope I’m on the grid again next year.”