Sports cars: AXR, Visit Florida, Corvette, DTM notes and more

Photo: VISIT FLORIDA Racing
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bunch of sports car news has come out here recently in the last few days, with most of it this mroning so we’re going to round it all up below:

  • Action Express Racing has confirmed its extra drivers for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. Filipe Albuquerque, the talented Portuguese driver, will share the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi. It’s his fifth straight Rolex 24 start; he won Rolex GT in 2013 and then has raced in GTD, PC and P since. In the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox entry, Mike Conway will make his Rolex 24 debut with Sunoco Challenge winner Seb Morris, with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship champions Dane Cameron and Eric Curran.
  • Lest this be the only DPi team with news, Wayne Taylor Racing with Konica-Minolta is the first to show its Cadillac in livery. Here’s the link to that.
  • Corvette Racing will keep Mike Rockenfeller and Marcel Fassler as third drivers for its pair of Corvette C7.Rs at the Rolex 24 at Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. Rockenfeller was in the No. 3 car, Fassler the No. 4 car last year.
  • Park Place Motorsports has confirmed a full-season return to IMSA’s GTD class. Joerg Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey will run all races in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R with Matt McMurry the third driver for Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races.
  • Tequila Patron ESM has revealed car numbers and lineups for its Ligier JS P217 Nissan lineup. Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp will be in the team’s No. 2 car with Pipo Derani back for the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup. Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek will be in the No. 22 car with Bruno Senna for the TPNAEC and Brendon Hartley at Daytona. More here from them.
  • VISIT FLORIDA Racing has taken delivery of its Riley Technologies Mk. 30 Gibson LMP2 car, with a shakedown at Carolina Motorsports Park prior to a full test this week at Daytona.
  • BMW Team RLL’s lineup will feature Alexander Sims and Martin Tomczyk as new full-season drivers in the pair of BMW M6 GTLM alongside Bill Auberlen and John Edwards, respectively. Augusto Farfus and Bruno Spengler are alongside Auberlen and Sims, with Kuno Wittmer and Nicky Catsburg in the second BMW alongside Edwards and Tomczyk.
  • Audi and BMW DTM lineups are out. Audi’s are Loic Duval and Rene Rast as new full-season additions, continuing with Mattias Ekström, Jamie Green, Nico Müller, and Mike Rockenfeller. For BMW, it’s Marco Wittmann, Timo Glock, Augusto Farfus, Tom Blomqvist, Maxime Martin and Bruno Spengler. Edoardo Mortara has left Audi to join Mercedes-Benz, but the rest of Mercedes’ lineup will be revealed at a later date.

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

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

Tom Blomqvist, who started from the pole position, drove the No. 60 Acura ARX-05 to a 4.369-second victory over Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac.

“That was incredible,” Blomqvist told NBC Sports’ Matt Yocum. “I’ve never dug so deep in my life. The adrenaline. I did that for the guys. I was so motivated to win this thing this weekend. But I’ve got to thank everyone on the whole team.”

With co-drivers Oliver Jarvis and Helio Castroneves, Blomqvist helped MSR bookend its season-opening victory in the Rolex 24 at Daytona by winning Saturday’s 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.

Blomqvist said he gained the lead because of a shorter fuel fill after he had worked on being efficient in the second-to-last stint.

“The team asked a big job of me with the fuel; I had a big fuel number to hit,” Blomqvist said. “We knew that was probably our only chance. The yellow came at the right time and obviously we had a bit less fuel to fill up, so I was able to jump him and then it was just a matter of going gung-ho and not leaving anything on the line. And obviously, the opposition had to try too hard to make it work. I’m so thankful.”

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 first prototype championship for Meyer Shank Racing, which also won the 2021 Indy 500 with Castroneves.

“We’ve had in the last four years, three championships for Acura, the Indy 500 win and the Rolex 24, it doesn’t get any better,” team co-owner Mike Shank told NBC Sports’ Kevin Lee.

It’s the third consecutive runner-up finish in the points standings for Wayne Taylor Racing, which won the first Daytona Prototype international championship in 2017. The premier category will be rebranded as the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class with the LMDh cars that will establish a bridge to racing in the 24 Hours of Le Mans.

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.

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.”