IMSA: Hectic month of news hits before Road America

Renger van der Zande. Photo courtesy of IMSA

There’s been a lot of news in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship over the last month or so beyond its on-track activity at Watkins Glen International, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park and Lime Rock Park before this weekend at Road America, and the Continental Tire Road Race Showcase.

There’s been the three pieces of really big news – formal confirmation of the Penske Acura and Joest Mazda programs, and the series announcing this past weekend its return to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2018. But those aren’t alone.

A recap of the rest is below.

VISIT FLORIDA Racing swaps Riley Multimatic for Ligier

Troy Flis’ team overachieved with a podium on reliability, rather than outright pace, in the Rolex 24 at Daytona with drivers Renger van der Zande, Marc Goossens and Rene Rast. But that was late January and seems an eternity ago, and the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing team has found the going tougher since.

The Riley is out and a Ligier JS P217 is in, starting this weekend at Road America.

“We have seen what the Ligier JS P217 is capable of, not only here in IMSA, but also in Europe as well, so we are eager to get to the track and learn about the JS P217 at Road America,” Flis said, via “I’m impressed with the customer support that Onroak Automotive has in place, and I have known Max Crawford for a long time so that relationship is another key element for us and VISIT FLORIDA to make this commitment.”

The team completed a shakedown this week at the Autobahn Country Club in Joliet, Ill. See photos from Radio Show Limited’s Eve Hewitt posted on Twitter, below.

WeatherTech goes back to Porsche

Photo: WeatherTech Racing

Ahead of or at the Road America weekend, it seems WeatherTech is always in the news.

Two years ago, WeatherTech was revealed as IMSA’s new entitlement partner, replacing TUDOR. Last year, the team ran two Porsche 911 GT3 Rs, one for Cooper MacNeil and Sven Mueller following the mysterious departure of Leh Keen, and a second for MacNeil’s father David with Gunnar Jeannette. The WeatherTech team then promptly withdrew after Road America from the WeatherTech series season to run a couple Pirelli World Challenge races with the Porsches instead.

Now, with the Balance of Performance not in the favor of the WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3, the Cooper MacNeil and Jeannette entry for this weekend at least… is a Porsche.

“The Mercedes-AMG GT3 is a great car,” MacNeil said. “We were fortunate to win at Long Beach on strategy, but the ebb-and-flow of BoP has the Mercedes at a big disadvantage right now. It is 231.5 lbs. heavier and has a 5.5mm smaller restrictor than the Porsche. So we are blowing the dust off of our 911 GT3 R and running it at Road America. We will see what the rest of the season brings.”

Jeannette added, “Since we still have a Porsche 911 GT3 R ready to go we thought what the heck, let’s run it at Road America and see where we stand. Porsche has been very supportive in helping us get everything back up and running for next weekend and it will be a nice homecoming for Cooper and myself to drive a Porsche in IMSA again. We already have one podium this year in a Porsche over at the Tour Auto in France and hope to get a second at WeatherTech’s home race!”

Shank’s new liveries

The pair of Michael Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3s have their third different liveries of the season. After the base but inverted black and white liveries on the team’s Nos. 86 and 93 cars through Round 5 Detroit, the team then switched to a patriotic livery which has been on the cars the last three races.

Now for Round 9 at Road America, it gets switched up again. Each car features a sleek chrome look to it – with the No. 93 blue, and the No. 86 red. Both colors are similar to that of the OEM color of the Acura NSX GT3 road car – Nouvelle Blue Pearl and Valencia Red Pearl.

Several of Michael Shank Racing’s previous liveries through the years have displayed a chrome look and is highly popular with fans of the Ohio-based team. Once again, AERO™ Advanced Paint Technology has created a chrome livery for the Michael Shank Racing cars.

“We’re really excited about this livery,” Shank said. “From the racing world to the street car world, these are very popular OEM colors. The chrome look to them is eye-catching and they look great. AERO once again hit it out of the park for us.  It’s very clean and simple this time. We will have one more scheme before we are done this year!”

Risi’s return?

The No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE is listed for a comeback this weekend, after missing the last three GT Le Mans class races at Watkins Glen, CTMP and Lime Rock.

Team owner Giuseppe Risi temporarily pulled the plug after another crash at the 24 Hours of Le Mans with its second Ferrari chassis. It would see Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella back in action and bring the GTLM class back to nine cars.

JDC’s second car

The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson has been pleasant surprise of the year in IMSA. Photo courtesy of IMSA

The JDC-Miller Motorsports team has placed an order for a second Oreca 07 Gibson ahead of the 2018 season. The “JDC banana boat” has been one of the more popular cars on the grid and one of the most pleasant surprises of the season to date. The team’s full release is linked here.

“This year has been a big step up for everyone but we have been proud of how the team has been able to handle the transition,” said team co-owner and managing partner John Church. “Moving to the premier prototype class with a new car and new equipment has been a significant undertaking but we have a great group of people and we were confident we could be competitive. Sitting third in the standings after seven races with two podium finishes is validation of our efforts and gives us confidence to continue on the path we have been on. Campaigning a second car next season is the logical next step in our goal of becoming one of the strongest professional sports car teams in North America.”

Other notes

  • As Performance Tech Motorsports looks to continue its perfect season in Prototype Challenge, the team is switching up its strategy. Pato O’Ward will qualify the No. 38 Oreca FLM09 before James French, a native of nearby Sheboygan, will finish the race. All year, it’s been French qualifying with O’Ward finishing. The PC class has just two races left – here and Road Atlanta.
  • The No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson will be back to the lineup of Olivier Pla alongside Jose Gutierrez, the same pairing that achieved the car’s best result in Watkins Glen of fourth. Nick Boulle and David Ostella ran the car at CTMP; Ostella having gotten out OK despite a rollover just before the checkered flag.
  • Park Place Motorsports is partnering with Dyson… the vacuums, not the race team and its litany of famous sports car drivers, this weekend. Per a release: “Park Place Motorsports is proud to welcome Dyson to the team for two races of support. Dyson will join Park Place at Road America and Road Atlanta, bringing with it an impressive and interactive display for spectators in the Vendor Village. (Patrick) Lindsey and (Joerg) Bergmeister will be on hand at the Dyson Cord-Free Experience to meet with fans and sign autographs.” The pair won the most recent GTD race in the No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 R.
  • The No. 80 Lone Star Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Mike Skeen and Dan Knox is also set to return to action for the first time since Circuit of The Americas in May. The team has done some private testing in the interim.

There will be more to follow from the IMSA world at Road America this weekend.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle: Cooper Webb, Eli Tomac overtake Chase Sexton


Another crash while leading at Seattle dropped Chase Sexton from the top of the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings while solid performances by Cooper Webb and Eli Tomac allow them to climb the chart and threaten to make this a two-rider battle with six rounds remaining in the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Cooper Webb wags his finger at Chase Sexton after winning his heat in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

During the race, Webb knew he had ground to make up. Riding behind both Tomac and Sexton early in the Main, he was as far back as fifth on Lap 7 at Seattle. That position would cost him the red plate and give away the advantage he began to build with his first win of the season in Tampa. Sexton is often at his best as he battles from the back and he methodically worked his way through the field. At the end of the feature, he was nearly five seconds off Tomac’s pace, but during the past 45 days, he holds the advantage. A resurgent Tomac that could erase that advantage quickly though.

Tomac struggled in Indianapolis with a neck strain. That contributed to his worst performance of 2023 and his second result outside the top five. He finished third in Detroit two weeks ago, but it was a distant third after finishing off the podium in his heat during that round. In Seattle, it appeared the same thing might happen when Tomac finished third in the prelim behind his two principal competitors Webb and Sexton. The Main was a different story.

Tomac dropped to fourth in the opening laps behind both of his rivals early in the race, but he got around Webb on Lap 2 and kept charging. When Sexton fell to the ground on Lap 11 and dropped to fourth, Tomac was in position to strike. He scored his sixth win of the season to tie James Stewart for second on the all-time wins list. He now shares the red plate with Webb as the rounds wind down.

MORE: Eli Tomac gets rebound win in Seattle

Sexton has the speed, but he lacks the seasoning of Webb and Tomac. He’s pressing hard on every lap and that has bitten him several times this year. Sexton’s mistakes are costing him with a 10th-place finish at Indy, the loss of seven points at Detroit and a fifth in Seattle as the riders he’s battling stood on the podium. No one seriously questions Sexton’s talent or speed, but ultimately the results are what counts.

Justin Barcia is hitting his stride. He advances two positions this week after scoring his fourth consecutive top-five and second podium in that span of races. Barcia finished between sixth and eighth in five consecutive rounds from Anaheim 2 through Arlington, but he’s mostly avoided controversy and that puts him fourth in this week’s SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

Jason Anderson had a solid performance in Seattle, but with a fifth-place finish in his heat and fourth in the Main he just keeps losing a little ground to the leaders. The biggest impact to his standing in the NBC Power Rankings is a 10th-place finish in Indianapolis that will take a while to age out of the 45-day formula. He’s tied for fourth in the championship points with Ken Roczen, who sits sixth in the rankings below. It’s important to be the rider “best in class” with Webb, Tomac and Sexton stealing the show.

450 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Cooper Webb 87.77 2 1
2. Eli Tomac 86.23 3 1
3. Chase Sexton 85.77 1 -2
4. Justin Barcia 80.71 6 2
5. Jason Anderson 80.69 4 -1
6. Ken Roczen 80.46 5 -1
7. Aaron Plessinger 75.86 7 0
8. Adam Cianciarulo 71.13 8 0
9. Christian Craig 69.86 9 0
10. Justin Cooper 62.88 10 0
11. Justin Hill 59.86 11 0
12. Dean Wilson 52.86 12 0
13. Josh Hill 49.00 15 2
14. Colt Nichols 48.67 13 -1
15. Shane McElrath 45.62 14 -1
16. Benny Bloss 43.00 16 0
17. Grant Harlan 38.08 20 3
18. Max Miller 37.67 24 6
19. Lane Shaw 36.67 21 2
20. Cade Clason 34.67 19 -1

Supercross 450 Points

The 250 West riders were back in action in Seattle and that gave Jett Lawrence the opportunity to break out of a tie with his brother Hunter Lawrence on the all-time wins list. It also provided Jett the opportunity to take back the top spot in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Seattle.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Seattle
Jett Lawrence regained the top spot overall in the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings with a near-perfect race in Seattle. – Feld Motor Sports

Jett has stood on the podium in every race this year with the exception of the second Triple Crown race at Anaheim 2 and that level of perfection gives him bragging rights. Rest assured that while the two brothers have a bond that is unapparelled in motorsports, there is no one they would rather beat. Neither has been particularly successful in Triple Crown rounds this year, however, and Jett could lose his advantage in two weeks in Glendale, Arizona under that format.

Lawrence is now two wins away from capturing the fourth-most wins at this level.

A rivalry is developing between Lawrence and Cameron McAdoo. Tired of losing to the affable Australian, McAdoo pushed the envelope last week in Seattle. He crowded Lawrence in the whoops during their heat race and sent both to the ground. That frustration could bubble over with four rounds remaining. One thing is certain, when these two riders are in proximity on the track, the cameras will be aimed in their direction.

Supercross 250 Points

A little means a lot this season. Finishing second to Lawrence in four of five rounds, RJ Hampshire would be losing ground to the leader no matter what, but an 11th-place finish in the overall at Anaheim 2 places him eighth on the chart below behind two of the 250 West riders and five 250 East competitors.

In the mains, Levi Kitchen has been all over the board with a win, one more top-five, two results on the high side of the single digits and a crash-induced 21st at San Diego. He’s really shown his speed in the heats, however, with a perfect record of top-fives and a win.

Mitchell Oldenburg makes the top five list among West riders with a perfect record of top-10 finishes. He’s heading in the wrong direction, however, falling from ninth overall to 11th after finishing outside the top five in both his heat and the Main last week.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Jett Lawrence – W 90.75 2 1
2. Hunter Lawrence – E 90.43 1 -1
3. Nate Thrasher – E 84.00 3 0
4. Cameron McAdoo – W 80.50 4 0
5. Haiden Deegan – E 78.21 5 0
6. Jeremy Martin – E 78.00 6 0
7. Jordon Smith – E 76.77 7 0
8. RJ Hampshire – W 76.75 10 2
9. Levi Kitchen – W 76.67 8 -1
10. Max Anstie – E 74.43 11 1
11. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 73.67 9 -2
12. Max Vohland – W 72.55 13 1
13. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 -1
14. Pierce Brown – W 68.64 19 5
15. Enzo Lopes – W 67.83 17 2
16. Chris Blose – E 67.43 15 -1
17. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 16 -1
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 18 0
19. Stilez Robertson – W 64.45 14 -5
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 20 0

* The NBC Power Rankings assign 100 points to a Main event winner and 90 points for each Heat and Triple Crown win, (Triple Crown wins are included with heat wins below the rider’s name). The points decrement by a percentage equal to the number of riders in the field until the last place rider in each event receives five points. The Power Ranking is the average of these percentage points over the past 45 days for the 450 class and last 90 days for 250s (because of the split nature of their season).

POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 10 AT SEATTLE: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 7 AT ARLINGTON: Jason Anderson narrowly trails Tomac
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 6 AT OAKLAND: Perfect night keeps Tomac first
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 4 AT HOUSTON: Tomac rebounds from A2 crash, retakes lead
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 3 AT ANAHEIM 2: Consistency makes Ken Roczen king
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 2 AT SAN DIEGO: Roczen moves up, Sexton falls
POWER RANKINGS AFTER WEEK 1 AT ANAHEIM 1: Tomac, Jett Lawrence gain an early advantage