Photo courtesy of IMSA

Piscitell steps into Blackhawks CJ Wilson Cayman at Road America

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One of the star qualifiers in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, Justin Piscitell, will step up to a GS class entry for this weekend’s race at Road America – and a good one at that.

The ST class veteran, who’s driven and scored poles in a Porsche Cayman before, will fill in for Tyler McQuarrie alongside Till Bechtolsheimer in CJ Wilson Racing’s No. 35 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport, which is adorned in a special Chicago Blackhawks livery.

The CJWR team release is below:

CJ Wilson Racing today announced that Continental Tire Series regular, Justin Piscitell will join the team for Round 7 of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge at Road America. The 27 year old from Patterson, New York will fill in for Tyler McQuarrie in the #35 Chicago Blackhawks/Safecraft Porsche Cayman as the Californian has a clashing Formula Drift commitment. Piscitell will race alongside regular driver, Till Bechtolsheimer.

“I was extremely excited to get the phone call from Andris asking me to come and run the CJWR car with Till,” explained Piscitell. “I have raced Caymans in the ST class but never the GS version of the car. So while being somewhat familiar with the platform, at the same time, this is going to be totally different,” he added.

Like many drivers, Piscitell ranks the 4.048 mile Wisconsin track highly. “Road America is one of my all-time favorite tracks, it is high speed in places with lots of exciting and different types of corners the whole way round the track. I have really great memories of the track as my first Skip Barber title was won there in 2009 at the final race of the season. Last year in Continental ST, we didn’t get to qualify so I started the race in eighth place and I think I turned the car over with a six second lead after maybe the driving at the highest level I ever have.”

4_sign_off_blackhawksTeam Manager, Andris Laivins is confident about McQuarrie’s replacement and believes there will be no drop in performance or expectations for the #35 car. “There is a pretty short list of drivers who have the right combination of CTSC experience, attitude, and speed that we would just drop into our program. Justin has always been consistently quick in these races, and our team has gotten to know him well over these last few seasons, so it’s a natural fit. We’ll all miss Tyler this week, but I’m still expecting to have cars on the podium!”

Piscitell also sees this opportunity for him to make a major impression with the team. “I know that CJWR is a top notch team seeing as they won the ST Championship last year and we were close competitors with them all season. So I know how great an opportunity it is for me but I also hope it proves to be a great chance for CJ Wilson Racing to see what I can do.”

Toyota No. 8 car wins the 24 Hours of Le Mans for third consecutive year

24 Hours of Le Mans

LE MANS, France — Toyota Gazoo’s No. 8 car comfortably won the 24 Hours of Le Mans by five laps Sunday to secure a third straight victory in the prestigious endurance race.

It was also a third consecutive win for Swiss driver Sebastien Buemi and Japan’s Kazuki Nakajima driving. Brendon Hartley was the other driver, having replaced two-time Formula One champion Fernando Alonso.

Buemi and Hartley sat on the side of the car as Nakajima drove toward the podium. Hartley won for a second time after tasting success with the Porsche LMP Team in 2017 before an unhappy season in Formula One.

The Swiss team’s Rebellion No. 1 featured American driver Gustavo Menezes and Brazilian Bruno Senna – the nephew of late F1 great Ayrton Senna.

It finished one lap ahead of Toyota Gazoo’s No. 7, with Rebellion’s No. 3 finishing in fourth place.

For much of the race it looked like Toyota’s No. 7 would win after leading comfortably from pole position. But late into the night the car encountered an engine problem and the 30-minute stop in the stands proved costly.

The race was first held in 1923. A total of 252,500 spectators attended in 2019, but there were none this year when the race started three months late because of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

“We miss the fans,” New Zealander Hartley said. “I look forward to seeing all the fans again.”

In other divisions:

United Autosports won the LMP2 division with the entry of Filipe Albuquerque, Paul Di Resta and Phil Hanson.

–In LMGTE Pro, the victory was claimed by Aston Martin Vantage AMR of Maxime Martin, Alex Lynn and Harry Tincknell (who drives for Mazda in the DPi division of IMSA).

–TF Sport won the LMGTE Am class.

The Toyota No. 7 took pole after former F1 driver Kamui Kobayashi narrowly edged out the Rebellion No. 1 team in qualifying.

In damp and humid conditions Mike Conway got away cleanly from the start, while Senna held off Buemi.

After nearly seven hours, Toyota’s No. 8 fell back after a 10-minute stop in the stands to fix a brake-cooling problem on Kazuki Nakajima’s car. Rebellion’s No. 1, driven by Frenchman Norman Nato, took advantage to move into second place behind Toyota’s No. 7.

Then came the decisive moment at 2:40 a.m. as the No. 7 – also featuring Argentine Jose Maria Lopez – encountered a turbo problem. When the car came back out it was back in fourth.

“We had a few problems early in the race,” Nakajima said. “Later they had a bigger issue than us.”

Rebellion’s No. 1 encountered a problem on the hood at around 9 a.m. and the change took six minutes, allowing the Rebellion No. 3 (Nathanael Berthon-Louis Deletraz-Romain Dumas) to close the gap.

It was becoming a tight battle between the two Rebellion cars behind Toyota’s No. 8.

At 12 p.m. Rebellion No. 3 with Dumas behind the wheel was only one second ahead of No. 1 driven by Menezes. Then both cars came in for a driver change with Deletraz swapping for Dumas on a lengthy stop, and Nato for Menezes as Rebellion No. 1 suddenly moved ahead of its team rival.

Dumas, a winner in 2016 with Porsche, appeared unhappy at the strategy decision to bring his car in first and the length of the stop. There were tense explanations in the team garage.

Colombian Tatiana Calderon, an F1 test driver with Alfa Romeo, was in the Richard Mille Racing Team in the LMP2 category. She was joined by German Sophia Florsch – an F3 driver – and Dutchwoman Beitske Visser. They placed ninth out of 24 in their category.