PR1/Mathiasen, Turner win TUDOR race in Lime Rock

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LAKEVILLE, Ct. – The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship’s lone Prototype Challenge/GT Daytona round of the season saw a pair of surprise winners.

PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports benefited from the demise of the two top PC cars to score its third win of the season, while Turner Motorsport parlayed a fuel strategy gamble to perfection to win its first race of 2015.

Polesitter Stephen Simpson dominated the first half of the race in the No. 85 JDC/Miller Motorsports entry, banking a 40-plus second gap on the 1.474-mile short track. But a fuel pressure issue forced the car to stop on track and Simpson was left stranded.

Shortly thereafter, new leader Conor Daly collided with GTD class-leading Christopher Haase on the run to the downhill, Turn 7, in a heavy accident that took both the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca FLM09 and No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS out of the race.

It left the lead to the No. 52 PR1 entry driven by Tom Kimber-Smith, who took over from Michael Guasch after a stellar first stint from him. “TKS” made a move on Lap 133 of the 173-lap, two-hour, 40-minute race to pass Bruno Junqueira for the lead, ultimately the win. Junqueira co-drove with Chris Cumming at RSR Racing, while Starworks Motorsport (Renger van der Zande, Mirco Schultis) completed the PC podium.

Turner’s pair of Michael Marsal and Dane Cameron managed to hold on for the GTD win, with Cameron running some 95 laps on a single fuel stint after its lone pit stop on Lap 67.

The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT3-R scored a season-best second-place finish (Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating driving) with the No. 007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3 completing the class podium (Kuno Wittmer, Christina Nielsen).

The Prototype and GT Le Mans classes resume alongside PC and GTD at the series’ next round at Road America, August 9.

Max Verstappen shows speed in Austria; Lewis Hamilton lacking pace

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
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SPIELBERG, Austria — Red Bull driver Max Verstappen posted the fastest time Friday, and six-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton lacked pace in the second practice session for the Styrian Grand Prix.

Verstappen was 0.043 seconds quicker than Valtteri Bottas – Hamilton’s teammate at Mercedes – and 0.217 ahead of Racing Point driver Sergio Perez.

“The car already feels better than last week, the balance is a lot nicer and we have made a good step,” said Verstappen, who did not finish last Sunday’s season-opening Austrian GP after starting from second.

“It is too early to say how we are looking against Mercedes, but we are quite happy. We have tried a few different directions to understand the car a bit more and we are heading the right way.”

Hamilton was only sixth fastest, about 0.7 seconds slower than Verstappen. Hamilton spent a chunk of time in the garage while his team worked on his car.

“It was quite far off, so there’s a lot of work to do in the background to figure it out,” he said. “Others out there are quick and Valtteri’s obviously got good pace.”

Despite adding a new front wing to its car, struggling Ferrari had a dismal afternoon.

Charles Leclerc was only ninth quickest and 1 second slower than Verstappen, while teammate Sebastian Vettel lagged about 2 seconds behind Verstappen in 16th.

Daniel Ricciardo lost control of his Renault car early into the second session, swerving left off the track and thudding backward into a protective tire wall. He climbed out unharmed, other than a slight limp, but the left rear tire was mangled and the car was lifted off the track by a crane.

Alexander Albon spun twice, the Red Bull driver’s second spin taking him right off the track and into gravel.

Earlier, Perez was fastest in the first practice ahead of Verstappen and Bottas, with Hamilton fourth quickest and Vettel only 10th in sunny conditions.

That session was briefly interrupted when Nicholas Latifi’s Williams car pulled over to the side with a gearbox issue.

The incident brought out yellow flags, forcing drivers to slow down. But McLaren driver Lando Norris overtook Pierre Gasly’s AlphaTauri and got a three-place grid penalty for Sunday’s race.

Norris, 20, finished third at the Austrian GP last weekend, becoming the youngest British driver in F1 history to get on the podium and third youngest in F1.

The upcoming race is changing names from last week but is at the same track. It is surrounded by the Styrian mountains.

A third and final practice will be held on Saturday morning before qualifying in the afternoon, with heavy rain and storms in the forecast.

If third practice and qualifying are washed out, drivers take their grid positions from where they placed in second practice.

“It would definitely suck if we didn’t get to qualify,” said Hamilton, who started fifth and finished fourth last weekend. “It would make it challenging.”

However, qualifying also could be moved to Sunday morning.

“I don’t expect to be on pole position with this (practice) lap,” Verstappen said.