Two hours to go at Petit Le Mans as IMSA season winds down

Photo courtesy of IMSA

BRASELTON, Ga. – The second four-hour run at tonight’s Petit Le Mans is complete, with eight hours down and two hours to go.

A couple key items of note have occurred in the last few hours:


Despite fighting brake and suspension issues, ultimately retiring from the race for the latter issue, Peter Baron’s Starworks Motorsport has clinched the Prototype Challenge title with Renger van der Zande and Alex Popow. David Heinemeier Hansson shared the No. 8 Oreca FLM09 this weekend.

The title was clinched when, ironically, the team’s sister car – the No. 7 car – retired to end seventh in class. It ensured there could not be enough points for the No. 8 car to lose even if the rival No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports car of Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith (and third driver Jose Gutierrez) won the race.


Scuderia Corsa was on fire metaphorically when it won the championship in GT Daytona earlier in the race, past the three-hour mark. It was on fire literally when its No. 68 Ferrari 488 GTE caught fire during a pit stop owing to a fuel leak.

The part-time GT Le Mans class entry’s crew, however, worked incredibly well to extinguish the flames.


The on-track highlight in the last few hours was the clean, fun battle between two cars in their final races – the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP driven by Ricky Taylor and the No. 70 Mazda Prototype driven by Spencer Pigot. Pigot hounded the significantly more experienced Taylor, although the two longtime friends from Orlando matched bout-for-bout.

Contact between Taylor and sports car racing’s rising star at the moment, Pipo Derani of Tequila Patron ESM, produced a slight bit of right front contact to Taylor’s car.


Filipe Albuquerque saved the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP from near disaster after contact produced a left rear puncture, and the Portuguese driver limped back to the pits.

But a later warning assessed for blocking helped set it back a bit.


Ozz Negri led overall in the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier JS P2 Honda as he and Olivier Pla have driven the lion’s share of the race. John Pew hasn’t driven much in his final start.

Beyond Negri, here’s the class leaders at the 8-hour mark, when the second points in the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup are awarded, are:

  • P: 1-60-Ozz Negri, Ligier JS P2 Honda, 2-10-Ricky Taylor, Corvette DP, 3-70-Spencer Pigot, Mazda
  • PC: 1-52-Jose Gutierrez, 2-38-Kenton Koch, 3-85-Stephen Simpson
  • GTLM: 1-62-James Calado, Ferrari 488 GTE, 2-66-Dirk Mueller, Ford GT, 3-4-Tommy Milner, Corvette C7.R
  • GTD: 1-33-Jeroen Bleekemolen, Dodge Viper GT3-R, 2-44-Andy Lally, Audi R8 LMS, 3-48-Bryan Sellers, Lamborghini Huracán GT3

Hunter Lawrence defends Haiden Deegan after controversial block pass at Detroit


Media and fan attention focused on a controversial run-in between Haiden Deegan and his Monster Energy Yamaha Star Racing teammate Jordon Smith during Round 10 of the Monster Energy Supercross race at Detroit, after which the 250 East points’ Hunter Lawrence defends the young rider in the postrace news conference.

Deegan took the early lead in Heat 1 of the round, but the mood swiftly changed when he became embroiled in a spirited battle with teammate Smith.

On Lap 3, Smith caught Deegan with a fast pass through the whoops. Smith briefly held the lead heading into a bowl turn but Deegan had the inside line and threw a block pass. In the next few turns, the action heated up until Smith eventually ran into the back of Deegan’s Yamaha and crashed.

One of the highlights of the battle seemed to include a moment when Deegan waited on Smith in order to throw a second block pass, adding fuel to the controversy.

After his initial crash, Smith fell to seventh on the next lap. He would crash twice more during the event, ultimately finishing four laps off the pace in 20th.

The topic was inevitably part of the postrace news conference.

“It was good racing; it was fun,” Deegan said at about the 27-minute mark in the video above. “I just had some fun doing it.”

Smith had more trouble in the Last Chance Qualifier. He stalled his bike in heavy traffic, worked his way into a battle for fourth with the checkers in sight, but crashed a few yards shy of the finish line and was credited with seventh. Smith earned zero points and fell to sixth in the standings.

Lawrence defends Deegan
Jordon Smith failed to make the Detroit Supercross Main and fell to sixth in the points. – Feld Motor Sports

“I think he’s like fifth in points,” Deegan said. “He’s a little out of it. Beside that it was good, I don’t know. I wasn’t really paying attention.”

Deegan jokingly deflected an earlier question with the response that he wasn’t paying attention during the incident.

“He’s my teammate, but he’s a veteran, he’s been in this sport for a while,” Deegan said. “I was up there just battling. I want to win as much as everybody else. It doesn’t matter if it’s a heat race or a main; I just want to win. I was just trying to push that.”

As Deegan and Smith battled, Jeremy Martin took the lead. Deegan finished second in the heat and backed up his performance with a solid third-place showing in the main, which was his second podium finish in a short six-race career. Deegan’s first podium was earned at Daytona, just two rounds ago.

But as Deegan struggled to find something meaningful to say, unsurprisingly for a 17-year-old rider who was not scheduled to run the full 250 schedule this year, it was the championship leader Lawrence who came to his defense.

Lawrence defends Deegan
A block pass by Haiden Deegan led to a series of events that eventually led to Jordon Smith failing to make the Main. – Feld Motor Sports

“I just want to point something out, which kind of amazes me,” Lawrence said during the conference. “So many of the people on social media, where everyone puts their expertise in, are saying the racing back in the ’80s, the early 90s, when me were men. They’re always talking about how gnarly it was and then anytime a block pass or something happens now, everyone cries about it.

“That’s just a little bit interesting. Pick one. You want the gnarly block passes from 10 years ago and then you get it, everyone makes a big song and dance about it.”

Pressed further, Lawrence defended not only the pass but the decision-making process that gets employed lap after lap in a Supercross race.

“It’s easy to point the finger,” Lawrence said. “We’re out there making decisions in a split millisecond. People have all month to pay their phone bill and they still can’t do that on time.

“We’re making decisions at such a fast reaction [time with] adrenaline. … I’m not just saying it for me or Haiden. I speak for all the guys. No one is perfect and we’re under a microscope out there. The media is really quick to point a finger when someone makes a mistake.”

The media is required to hold athletes accountable for their actions. They are also required to tell the complete story.