IMSA: Parity, title battles, some sign-offs as Petit Le Mans turns 20

Photo courtesy of IMSA

In a roundabout way, the season finale for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – and the championship-within-a-championship Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup that goes with it – is fortunate that all four of its class championships are all but decided headed into Motul Petit Le Mans, the 20th edition of the early October endurance classic.

While the race was long the stalwart for extra international entries in years past – namely the Audi and Peugeot LMP1 beasts – it’s been through a bit of a tough slog the last four or five years in the absence of high-profile guest stars. But with an incredible batch of extra drivers and a few key additions to the field, the spotlight may go back on the battle for wins this weekend with the titles nearly cinched.

Brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor will wrap the Prototype title in what could be their final race as co-drivers in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, thanks to a 29-point lead entering this race. They positioned themselves for the title right out of the gate with an incredible run of five race wins in a row to start the year, and a 30-point lead after those five races. Cadillac has also sealed the Prototype Manufacturer’s title with a 27-point lead over Nissan.

Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia can make it a double title for General Motors as they enter in GT Le Mans with a 19-point lead of their own in that class, driving the No. 3 Corvette C7.R.

Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen can go back-to-back in GT Daytona in their No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, on the heels of a win last time out at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and with a 26-point lead there.

These three pairings merely need to complete the minimum drive time requirements (45 minutes base drive time in P and GTLM and two hours base drive time, and two hours, 45 minutes for Silver/Bronze drivers in GTD) to ensure they score points for the race and confirm their crowns.

The final Prototype Challenge championship has already been cinched, James French and Pato O’Ward having done so for Performance Tech Motorsports their last race at Road America.

There are still plenty of titles on offer for the weekend, between manufacturer titles and Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup titles, but the good part about the driver titles being settled is the battle for class wins across the board should take priority in the 10-hour race.

Here’s what to look forward to:


Beyond the four season-long class titles, here is the state of play for other championships heading into the weekend:

  • GTLM Manufacturer’s Championship: Chevrolet 316, Ford 312 and BMW 307. Porsche at 297 is too far back to win.
  • GTD Manufacturer’s Championship: Ferrari 327 and Mercedes-AMG 318. From third on back (Porsche 313, Acura 310, Lamborghini 305, BMW 303) they’re too far back to win.
  • TPNAEC titles: In Prototype, the No. 5 Cadillac trio leads the No. 10 Konica Minolta pairing by two points, 38-36. Cadillac will win that Manufacturer’s title. In GTLM, No. 911 Porsche pairing leads the No. 66 Ford pairing by two points, 32-30. Ford leads Porsche by three in Manufacturer’s, 36-33. GTD sees the No. 63 Ferrari trio on 30,the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG trio on 29 and the No. 86 Acura pair on 27. The Manufacturer’s battle sees Mercedes-AMG with a three-point lead over both Acura and Ferrari (33-30). Performance Tech Motorsports’ trio has the PC title clinched.


Photo: Rebellion Racing

Confirmation of Team Penske’s late but welcome entry, along with the return of Rebellion Racing with a revised livery and a revised lineup (Mathias Beche, Nick Heidfeld, Gustavo Menezes), spices up the Prototype field with a 10-car entry. Both teams won their last Petit Le Mans starts; Penske with Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe in LMP2 in 2008, Rebellion overall – twice in a row – in 2012 and 2013. Heidfeld was part of the 2013 win.

After the Taylor brothers’ runaway in the opening five races, since the Taylor’s last win in Detroit, four different other cars have won the four races since.

The Nos. 5 and 31 Action Express Cadillacs got their own wins in Watkins Glen and Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, the No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi broke up the Cadillac seven-up of wins at Road America, and the No. 90 VISIT FLORIDA Racing Ligier JS P217 Gibson became the first LMP2-spec winner at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Factor in the hungry No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07 Gibson and No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier JS P217 Gibson cars, each of which has been close to winning this year especially at similar type tracks to Road Atlanta, and there should be a thrilling scrap for the overall win in this year’s Prototype field.

There’s a guaranteed new winner in Prototype this year, as Michael Shank Racing won last year with its Ligier JS P2 Honda in the hands of Ozz Negri, John Pew and Olivier Pla. Pla and PR1 can repeat – Pla is in the PR1 Ligier and the PR1 team won PC last year – but otherwise it’s wide open.


GTLM often wide open at Petit Le Mans. Photo courtesy of IMSA

The beauty of GTLM at Petit Le Mans is that there is parity in winners. Last year, it was the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE in a popular and overdue triumph with Giancarlo Fisichella, Toni Vilander and James Calado. Porsche claimed its famous overall win in the water-logged 2015 deluge with Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Richard Lietz.

The former Team Falken Tire won back-to-back in 2013 and 2014, in 2013 with an old car (the 997-spec Porsche 911 GT3 RSR) and in 2014, as the first customer winner in the new Porsche 911 RSR, which is now another previous generation model (the new mid-engined Porsche 911 RSR has debuted this year). Extreme Speed Motorsports won in 2012 with the Ferrari F458 Italia, AF Corse (Ferrari) won in a guest entry over Flying Lizard Motorsports (Porsche) in 2011 and Corvette snatched a dramatic last gasp victory in 2010 when Risi ran out of fuel in the final minutes.

Extra weight added to the Ferrari before this race (+15 kg) is the notable class Balance of Performance change coming into the weekend. Even with that, all five manufacturers in class should be in the mix. Ford in particular seeks its first win here and enters after a test at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course last week.


Last year witnessed an epic scrap for the GTD win between Jeroen Bleekemolen in the final race for the Dodge Viper GT3-R and Andy Lally in what proved to be the final race for the No. 44 Magnus Racing Audi R8 LMS in IMSA. But while Lally won it on the road, the car was dropped to the rear of the class post-race for a drive-time violation; the wrong Silver driver in Marco Seefried, rather than John Potter, had been the driver to achieve the time required. Potter and Lally were paired as full-season drivers and despite Lally and Bleekemolen’s drive on track, the race was decided by officialdom.

Nos. 29 (above) and 23 Audis join regular GTD entrants this week. Photo courtesy of IMSA

Beyond the 15 regular entries in GTD and their assortment of cool guest stars as third drivers, two extra cars come in the form of a pair of Audi R8 LMS entries. Alex Job Racing’s Townsend Bell, our NBCSN IndyCar analyst, and Bill Sweedler won the GTD championship here two years ago for Scuderia Corsa. They’re joined by Frankie Montecalvo as they look for their first big result of the year. Also back in action for the first time since Sebring is the No. 29 Montaplast by Land-Motorsport Audi of American star Connor De Phillippi, Chris Mies and new third driver Kelvin van der Linde, a talented young Dutch driver who figures to be one to watch this weekend. De Phillippi will have back-to-back U.S. races, as he’ll also be in the eight-hour SRO Intercontinental GT Challenge race at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with the same team and Mies and Christopher Haase as co-drivers.


IMSA’s Prototype Challenge class signs off this weekend but still with one final story line: can Performance Tech Motorsports complete a perfect season? With seven wins from the first seven races, the trio of James French, Pato O’Ward and Kyle Masson are the favorites (Masson having driven only the endurance races) at Road Atlanta. Brian Alder’s BAR1 Motorsports has a couple solid pros within its two cars, and has one last chance to see if they can topple Brent O’Neill’s bunch.

2023 SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit: Chase Sexton narrowly leads Cooper Webb


For the fifth time in 10 rounds of the 2023 Monster Energy Supercross season, the three riders at the top of the championship standings shared a podium and while those points tell one story, the NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit tell a slightly different tale.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Cooper Webb is peaking at the right time. – Feld Motor Sports

Chase Sexton has been all but perfect during the past 45 days with podium finishes in each of his heats and Triple Crown features. His only stumble during this period was a 10th-place finish in the Indianapolis Main. Last week, Sexton was perfect with wins in both his heat and the feature, although he needed a little help from an Aaron Plessinger mistake to take the top spot on the podium at the end of the night.

Cooper Webb finished fifth at Houston and was beginning to worry ever so slightly about his position in the points. Prior to the race in Tampa, he told NBC Sports that it was time to win and like Babe Ruth pointing to the outfield fence, Webb went out and captured it. Following that race, Webb has swept the podium and earned the red plate two weeks ago in Indianapolis. At Detroit, he added two more points on Eli Tomac as the season begins to wind down.

Tomac struggled with a stiff neck at Indianapolis and after a modest third-place showing in Detroit, he revealed he was still suffering a little. Webb and Sexton have been able to close the gap on Tomac in the past 45 days, but one of the main reasons he is so close in the points was a pair of wins that started the year. Seattle is going to be important for the defending champion because Tomac cannot afford to lose any more momentum with seven rounds remaining.

MORE: Chase Sexton inherits the win in Detroit

It appeared Jason Anderson was turning things around. He earned his fifth heat win at Detroit, which was also his sixth consecutive race (including features) in which he scored a top-five. A fall in the Detroit Main dropped him a lap off the pace and sent him home with a season-worst finish of ninth, causing a ripple effect in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings.

Justin Barcia was a huge part of the show last week in Detroit. He swapped positions with both Webb and Tomac in the middle stage of the race, which allowed Sexton to close the gap. Barcia finished fourth in that race to earn his third consecutive top-five. He’s been outside the top 10 only once in the first 10 rounds.

Adam Cianciarulo had a great start to the Main. He led a couple of laps before losing a lap and slipping back to eighth in the final rundown. That run was strong enough to elevate him three positions in the SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit.

450 Rankings

Driver Percentage
1. Chase Sexton
[2 Main, 6 Heat wins]
87.00 1 0
2. Cooper Webb
[2 Main, 1 Heat win]
86.71 2 0
3. Eli Tomac
[5 Main, 6 Heat wins]
84.57 3 0
4. Jason Anderson
[5 Heat wins]
80.71 4 0
5. Ken Roczen
[1 Main, 1 Heat win]
80.50 5 0
6. Justin Barcia
[1 Heat win]
79.07 7 1
7. Aaron Plessinger 77.14 6 -1
8. Adam Cianciarulo 69.75 11 3
9. Christian Craig 68.86 10 1
10. Justin Cooper 63.90 9 -1
11. Justin Hill 58.57 15 4
12. Dean Wilson 51.50 12 0
13. Colt Nichols 51.25 13 0
14. Shane McElrath 46.86 17 3
15. Josh Hill 46.79 16 1
16. Benny Bloss 45.31 18 2
17. Jared Lesher 39.00 NA
18. Joey Savatgy 38.63 14 -4
19. Cade Clason 37.50 21 2
20. Grant Harlan 35.54 23 3

Supercross 450 Points

The NBC SuperMotocross Power Rankings look at the past 90 days in the 250 class in order to have a balanced comparison between the East and West divisions and Hunter Lawrence has been all but perfect this year. At Detroit, he earned his fifth win of the season and kept alive a streak of podium finishes in six rounds. He tied his brother Jett Lawrence with 10 250 wins one week before the West riders take to the track for back-to-back races at Seattle, Washington and Glendale, Arizona.

SuperMotocross Power Rankings Detroit
Nate Thrasher is settling into a comfortable role as ‘best in class’. – Feld Motor Sports

The Lawrence brothers are dominating the points in each of their respective divisions, which means the remainder of the field is battling to be best in class.

In the East, that rider is Nate Thrasher, who beat Hunter in a head-to-head matchup in their heat only to finish second in the main when the majority of points were awarded. Thrasher seems to have accepted his position in the championship standings, but that doesn’t mean he won’t keep trying for wins.

Haiden Deegan showed a lot of aggression in his heat last week. He threw a couple of block passes at his teammate Jordon Smith and set up a series of events that kept Smith from making the big show while Deegan settled into second in the preliminary. Deegan was unconcerned about how he raced his teammate and would not let a little controversy keep him from celebrating his second career podium in Detroit.

Supercross 250 Points

Jeremy Martin just keeps clicking off solid results. He won his heat last week by making a pass on Deegan and Smith while they were in the heat of their battle. Martin finished fourth in the Main, which means he continues to have only one finish worse than sixth in any of the features or mains.

Smith fell one position in the points standings, but the damage was even worse in SuperMotocross Power Rankings after Detroit. Crash damage in his heat contributed to a last-place finish in that race, for which he earned minimal points. He was not able to advance from the Last Chance Qualifier after stalling his bike in heavy traffic.

250 Rankings

Rider Power
1. Hunter Lawrence – E
[5 Main, 5 Heat wins]
90.43 1 0
2. Jett Lawrence – W
[3 Main, 3 Heat wins]
90.30 2 0
3. Nate Thrasher – E
[1 Main, 3 Heat wins]
84.00 5 2
4. Cameron McAdoo – W
[1 Heat win]
79.80 9 5
5. Haiden Deegan – E
[1 Heat win]
78.21 7 2
6. Jeremy Martin – E
[2 Heat wins]
78.00 8 2
7. Jordon Smith – E
[3 Heat Wins]
76.77 4 -3
8. Levi Kitchen – W
[1 Main]
75.30 3 -5
9. Mitchell Oldenburg – W 75.20 11 2
10. RJ Hampshire – W
[4 Heat wins]
74.50 17 7
11. Max Anstie – E 74.43 6 -5
12. Tom Vialle – E 72.07 12 0
13. Max Vohland – W 71.56 10 -3
14. Stilez Robertson – W
[1 Heat win]
69.22 14 0
15. Chris Blose – E 67.43 18 3
16. Chance Hymas – E 67.10 15 -1
17. Enzo Lopes – W 66.00 20 3
18. Michael Mosiman – E 65.80 16 -2
19. Pierce Brown – W 65.78 13 -6
20. Phil Nicoletti – W 59.25 21 1

* 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 8 AT DAYTONA: Chase Sexton unseats Eli Tomac
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 5 AT TAMPA: Sexton, Cooper Webb close in
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