IMSA: OAK dominates CTMP; Corvette and Viper take GTLM, GTD wins

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After coming close all year, the No. 42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan finally broke through in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship for its first win of the year. Drivers Gustavo Yacaman and Olivier Pla led flag-to-flag from Yacaman’s pole position to secure the win at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix.

Richard Westbrook’s late pass of Jordan Taylor netted Watkins Glen winners Spirit of Daytona second place in the No. 90 Corvette DP over the fellow Corvette DP, the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing entry. Westbrook co-drove with Michael Valiante; Taylor with older brother Ricky.

The GT Le Mans class also saw domination, with Corvette Racing’s No. 3 pair of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia winning their fourth straight race in their Corvette C7.R. Magnussen has his sixth win at the former Mosport circuit; Garcia his first.

The Dodge Viper SRT GTS-Rs finished second and third for the second race running, although this time the No. 93 of Kuno Wittmer and Jonathan Bomarito finished ahead of the sister No. 91 of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens. Bomarito made a late run at Garcia through traffic, but was unable to catch the Spaniard.

Meanwhile in GT Daytona, the polesitting No. 33 Riley Motorsports Viper Exchange Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R took its first win of the year with drivers Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating.

Bleekemolen made a late race pass of Kevin Estre in the No. 73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 911 GT America; Estre having been banged at Turn 3 by Michael Christensen in the factory, CORE autosport-run No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR in the GT Le Mans category.

That Porsche-on-Porsche violence allowed Bleekemolen through on the inside, while Estre was stuck in second. He co-drove with Patrick Lindsey.

Despite a penalty, Turner Motorsport rebounded to third with Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala in the No. 94 BMW Z4 GT3.

The race ran caution-free, the third such TUDOR Championship race to do so this year after the Prototype/GT Le Mans classes put on caution-free events at Long Beach and Monterey, respectively.

The P, GTLM and GTD classes race next at Indianapolis Motor Speedway July 25, with the PC class also back in action that race.

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”