IMSA reveals 2018 WeatherTech, Continental, Porsche schedules

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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ELKHART LAKE, Wis. – The 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule has been revealed on Friday, with only a couple changes from this year.

As announced last week, the series’ return to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course takes place May 4-6, replacing Circuit of The Americas on the calendar.

The other change sees the GT Daytona class drop a round of the season, going from 12 races to 11, and drops the Long Beach race from the calendar. That reverts the race back to just the Prototype and GT Le Mans classes.

With just three classes in 2018, the Prototype Challenge class set to come to an end in two races, most WeatherTech Championship events will have all classes in action. The GT-only races at Lime Rock Park and VIRginia International Raceway continue and the Detroit street race will be just Prototype and GT Daytona.

“The 2018 WeatherTech Championship schedule again showcases the stability of our platform, while at the same time reaffirming our commitment to the best road racing venues and events in North America. And this time offering a few surprises for our fans,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Each race on our 2018 calendar has a rich history of sports car competition, which we expect to be at an all-time high next season across all three classes.”

All four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races continue as well.

The WeatherTech Championship schedule is below:

The 2018 season will kick off with the annual three-day Roar Before the Rolex 24 At Daytona test session on Jan. 5-7. The test is mandatory for all Rolex 24 participants.

2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Schedule

Date: Event / Venue, Classes / Duration

  • Jan. 5-7: Roar Before The Rolex 24 At Daytona, P/GTLM/GTD, Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Florida
  • Jan. 25-28:Rolex 24 At Daytona, P/GTLM/GTD, Daytona International Speedway – Daytona Beach, Florida, 24 Hours
  • March 14-17: Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida, P/GTLM/GTD, Sebring International Raceway – Sebring, Florida, 12 Hours
  • April 13-14: BUBBA burger SportsCar Grand Prix at Long Beach, P/GTLM, Long Beach, California, 100 Minutes
  • May 4-6: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, P/GTLM/GTD, Lexington, Ohio, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • June 1-2: Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, P/GTD, Belle Isle Park – Detroit, Michigan, 100 Minutes
  • June 28-July 1: Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, P/GTLM/GTD, Watkins Glen International – Watkins Glen, New York, 6 Hours
  • July 6-8: Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix, P/GTLM/GTD, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park – Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • July 20-21: Northeast Grand Prix, GTLM/GTD, Lime Rock Park – Lakeville, Connecticut, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • Aug. 3-5: Continental Tire Road Race Showcase, P/GTLM/GTD, Road America – Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • Aug. 17-19: Michelin GT Challenge, GTLM/GTD, VIRginia International Raceway – Danville, Virginia, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • Sept. 7-9: Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda, P/GTLM/GTD, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca – Monterey, California, 2 Hours, 40 Minutes
  • Oct. 10-13: Motul Petit Le Mans, P/GTLM/GTD, Road Atlanta – Braselton, Georgia, 10 Hours

CONTINENTAL TIRE SPORTSCAR CHALLENGE SCHEDULE

The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge calendar has also been released, with a 10-race slate and a couple quick changes.

Daytona resumes for a second straight year as a four-hour endurance race, while the second four-hour race moves from Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca to Watkins Glen International. As with the WeatherTech Championship, the series swaps Circuit of The Americas for Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

2018 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge Schedule

  • Jan. 26: Daytona
  • March 16: Sebring
  • May 5: Mid-Ohio
  • June 30: Watkins Glen
  • July 7: CTMP
  • July 21: Lime Rock
  • Aug. 4: Road America
  • Aug. 18: VIR
  • Sept. 8: MRLS
  • Oct. 12: Road Atlanta

PORSCHE GT3 CUP CHALLENGE USA BY YOKOHAMA

Most Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama races fall on IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekends, with two exceptions: the Barber and Sonoma dates would fall on Verizon IndyCar Series weekends, unofficially revealing those dates.

That schedule is below:

2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama Schedule

Date: Venue

  • March 14-16: Sebring International Raceway, Sebring, Florida*
  • April 21-22: Barber Motorsports Park, Birmingham, Alabama
  • May 4-6: Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, Lexington, Ohio*
  • June 28-30: Watkins Glen International, Watkins Glen, New York*
  • Aug. 3-5: Road America, Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin*
  • Aug. 17-19: VIRginia International Raceway, Alton, Virginia*
  • Sept. 14-16: Sonoma Raceway, Sonoma, California
  • Oct. 10-12: Road Atlanta, Braselton, Georgia*

* — In conjunction with IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events

Jack Miller wins the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix as Fabio Quartararo stops his downward points’ slide

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Jack Miller ran away with the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi as Fabio Quartararo stopped his downward slide in the championship when a last-lap accident from his closest rival in the standings caused Francesco Bagnaia to score zero points.

Starting seventh, Miller quickly made his way forward. He was second at the end of two laps. One lap later, he grabbed the lead from Jorge Martin. Once in the lead, Miller posted three consecutive fastest laps and was never seriously challenged. It was Australian native Miller’s first race win of the season and his sixth podium finish.

The proximity to his home turf was not lost.

“I can ride a motorcycle sometimes,” Miller said in NBC Sports’ post-race coverage. “I felt amazing all weekend since I rolled out on the first practice. It feels so awesome to be racing on this side of the world.

“What an amazing day. It’s awesome; we have the home Grand Prix coming up shortly. Wedding coming up in a couple of weeks. I’m over the moon; can’t thank everyone enough.”

Miller beat Brad Binder to the line by 3.4 seconds with third-place Jorge Martin finishing about one second behind.

But the center of the storm was located just inside the top 10 as both Quartararo and Bagnaia started deep in the field.

Quartararo was on the outside of row three in ninth with Bagnaia one row behind in 12th. Neither rider moved up significantly, but the championship continued to be of primary importance as Bagnaia put in a patented late-race charge to settle onto Quartararo’s back tire, which would have allowed the championship leader to gain only a single point.

On the final lap, Bagnaia charged just a little too hard and crashed under heavy braking, throwing away the seven points he would have earned for a ninth-place finish.

The day was even more dramatic for the rider who entered the MotoGP Japanese Grand Prix third in the standings. On the sighting lap, Aleix Espargaro had an alarm sound, so he peeled off into the pits, dropped his primary bike and jumped aboard the backup. Starting from pit lane, he trailed the field and was never able to climb into the points. An undisclosed electronic problem was the culprit.

For Quartararo, gaining eight points on the competition was more than a moral victory. This was a track on which he expected to run moderately, and he did, but the problems for his rivals gives him renewed focus with four rounds remaining.

Next week, the series heads to Thailand and then Miller’s home track of Phillip Island in Australia. They will close out the Pacific Rim portion of the schedule before heading to Spain for the finale in early November.

It would appear team orders are not in play among the Ducati riders. Last week’s winner Enea Bastianini made an aggressive early move on Bagnaia for position before the championship contender wrestled the spot back.

In his second race back following arm surgery, Marc Marquez won the pole. His last pole was more than 1,000 days ago on this same track in 2019, the last time the series competed at Motegi. Marquez slipped to fifth in the middle stages of the race, before regaining a position to finish just off the podium.

In Moto2 competition, Ai Ogura beat Augusto Fernandez to close the gap in that championship to two points. Fernandez holds the scant lead. Alonso Lopez rounded out the podium.

Both American riders, Cameron Beaubier and Joe Roberts finished just outside the top 10 in 11th and 12th respectively.