IMSA: Chaotic race sees Action Express, BMW score victories in Canada

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship saw a chaotic Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix from Canadian Tire Motorsport Park after a pair of rain showers hit in the final hour of the race, which scrambled the running order and caused several incidents in the final minutes.

In the end, Dane Cameron and Eric Curran survived the carnage and chaos to take the overall and Prototype win the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi for Action Express. BMW Team RLL went 1-2 in GTLM, with the No. 25 of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims leading the No. 24 of Martin Tomczyk and John Edwards in their BMW M6 GTLM entries.

In GT Daytona, the No. 57 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis claimed victory, while the No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports team continued its perfect season with another win for drivers James French and Pato O’Ward.

Reports for each class are below.

Prototype

It appeared that the battle for the win would be between Wayne Taylor Racing and JDC-Miller Motorsports, with Misha Goikhberg and Stephen Simpson each pulling off spectacular passes for the lead on the No. 10 Cadillac DPi as they worked traffic, with Simpson’s move seeing him put two wheels on the grass as he made a pass on the back straightaway.

However, the first rain shower jumbled the running order, as half the track became soaking wet while the other half stayed dry. Simpson pitted the No. 85 Oreca LMP2, joining several other Prototype runners, while Jordan Taylor stayed out on slicks in the No. 10 entry.

Even though Taylor quickly fell back when the race restarted with 38 minutes remaining, the track quickly dried, forcing those ahead of Taylor to pit again for slick tires, which vaulted Taylor back into the lead.

However, a smooth run to the checkered flag came to an end as Taylor attempted to lap several GT cars in turn 4. Taylor clipped the right-front of Tommy Milner in the No. 4 Corvette after trying an outside pass, and both cars spun into the tire barriers, bringing out another caution. The contact ended the day for Milner, while Taylor managed to continue, but with heavy damage to the back of the car.

He continued in the lead under caution, the pits being closed because this caution came within 15 minutes of the previous one, but Taylor immediately lost the lead to Dane Cameron when racing resumed with ten minutes remaining.

Cameron and the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac DPi emerged in the lead ahead of Simpon’s No. 85, who managed to pass the Cameron’s teammate Joao Barbosa, in the No. 5 Cadillac DPi, on the outside of turn 5, with Barbosa even making slight contact and spinning in the aftermath.

However, Cameron was able to keep Simpson at bay until a final caution in the dying minutes. With another rain storm hitting the track, the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier LMP2, with David Ostella at the wheel, spun off into the tire barriers in turn 8 and flipped upside down. Ostella did walk away under his own power, but his incident saw the race end under caution, with Cameron and Eric Curran taking the win over Simpson and Misha Goikhberg. Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel finished third in the No. 2 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi.

GTLM

The no. 25 entry from BMW Team RLL took its second win in a row, with Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims dominating much of the race. Teammates Martin Tomczyk and John Edwards finished second in the No. 24 entry, making it a BMW 1-2, while Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe brought the No. 67 Ford GT home in third for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing.

Corvette Racing appeared to have an edge in strategy in the first half of the race, with both the No. 3 and No. 4 cars going the longest before stopping for the first time, making it known that they planned to only make two pit stops. However, the rain showers put paid to their strategy. While Tommy Milner crashed out with Jordan Taylor in the aforementioned incident, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished fourth.

GT Daytona

The No. 57 Steven Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT3 scored its first victory of the year with drivers Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis, denying the No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 from Michael Shank Racing its third win in a row. Andy Lally and Katherine Legge did finish in second, with Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan finishing third in the Scuderia Corsa No. 63 Ferrari 488 GT3.

Pole sitter Sage Karam rocketed off into the lead with his Lexus RCF GT3 in the opening stint, but he and the No. 14 3GT Racing team saw their chances for the win go by the wayside during their first pit stop, as they incurred a penalty for the tires spinning while it was up on the jacks. He and co-driver Scott Pruett finished fifth.

Prototype Challenge

Performance Tech Motorsports continued its run of perfection in 2017, with drivers James French and Pato O’Ward taking another win. However, this was not nearly as smooth as the others, as O’Ward impacted a tire carcass on the track, which seriously damaged the front nose assembly.

The team lost the lead, but was able to regain it in the final minutes after staying on slick tires during the brief rain showers. As the No. 20 and 26 entries from BAR1 Motorsports, who pitted for rain tires, pitted once more slicks, O’Ward moved the No. 38 back into the lead and held it to the end.

Don Yount and Ryan Lewis finished second in the No. 20, ahead of James Vance and Garett Grist.

Follow Kyle Lavigne.