Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Nasr holds off Taylor in Prototype, MSR goes 1-2 in GTD at Detroit

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Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran gave the No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R for Action Express its first win of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Clever pit strategy, and quick pit work, put the No. 31 out front in the second half of the race. An early caution – after David Heinemeier Hansson nosed into the Turn 5 tire barrier in the No. 15 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3 – jumbled the running order and strategy, with several teams staying out while others elected to pit.

The No. 31 team played their strategy correctly, pitting under that early yellow and taking fuel only on their second stop, while some mighty quick laps from Nasr helped put them in position to win in the final minutes.

However, Nasr needed to battle with a fast-charging Ricky Taylor, on fresher tires after the Acura Team Penske group elected to put fresh Continentals on his No. 7 ARX-05 for the final stint.

Taylor managed to close in as they worked through traffic, but never got close enough to try and overtake Nasr, who scored the first win of 2018 for himself, co-driver Eric Curran, and the No. 31 AXR team.

Taylor hung on for second, while teammate Dane Cameron came home third in the sister No. 6 Acura. Of note: the pole sitting No. 22 Tequila Patron ESM Nissan Onroak DPi, in the hands of Pipo Derani at the start, suffered steering problems in the early laps, forcing an unscheduled pit stop.

Johannes van Overbeek took over to finish the race during their final stop, and the combo eventually finished seventh.

In GTD, it was a banner day for Meyer Shank Racing w/ Curb-Agajanian, with Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher – in the No. 86 Acura NSX GT3 – leading teammates Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach – in the No. 93 NSX – in a 1-2 for the MSR squad.

Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher scored the first win of the 2018 season for Meyer Shank Racing. Photo courtesy of IMSA

The No. 86 team moved to the lead during a cycle of pit stops, after keeping Legge out one lap longer than rivals Paul Miller Racing, with the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Bryan Sellers, who started the race for the Paul Miller squad, was the first of the leaders to pit, but Legge stayed out to put in a blistering in-lap and it was enough to see Farnbacher, who took over for Legge at that stop, to emerge in the lead.

Meanwhile, quick pit work saw the No. 93, in the hands of Aschenbach after Marks started the race, come out ahead of the No. 48 Lamborghini to run second.

And they stayed in that order the rest of the way, with Legge and Farnbacher – subbing for Alvaro Parente – giving Meyer Shank their first win of 2018. Madison Snow brought the No. 48 Lamborghini home in third.

Full results can be found here.


Michelin appoints new North American motorsports director

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Michelin North America has named Tony Ménard as director of motorsports, effective Jan. 1, 2020.

Ménard is succeeding Chris Baker, who has held the role for the past eight years. Baker is scheduled to retire in March of 2020, ending a lengthy career that began with Michelin in 1982.

“Chris has played a vital role in the growth and success of our motorsports program, both for BFGoodrich and Michelin in North America,” said Matthieu Bonardel, global director for Michelin Group’s motorsports business entity. “His passion and understanding for motorsport fueled growth in the organization and established credibility in the market. Chris’s leadership propelled the Group, which experienced tremendous success with race wins, and advanced the way the brands leveraged our motorsports participation to benefit the overall business.”

A native of Le Mans, France, Ménard has served in several positions during his 30-year career with Michelin, most recently serving global business leader for Michelin brand in the passenger-vehicle category. Ménard has worked closely with the North American motorsports team since early July in preparation for the transition.

Baker oversaw the development of the motorsports function for Michelin and BFGoodrich Tires brands as a single business unit in North America. He also directed the expansion of Michelin’s involvement in IMSA sports-car racing as the “Official Tire of IMSA” and BFGoodrich Tires partnership with SCORE International Racing as the “Official Tire of SCORE.”

During Baker’s tenure, BFGoodrich achieved an unprecedented 650 off-road class wins, including five overall victories in the Baja 1000. The brand also demonstrated performance in the Battery Tender Global Mazda MX5 Cup presented by BFGoodrich Tires, Lucas Oil Off Road Racing, Ultra4 King of Hammers, and provided strong support of grass roots racing across North America with the Sports Car Club of America (SCCA), National Auto Sport Association (NASA), and Super Production Challenge in Canada.

“I am incredibly grateful to Michelin for the opportunities and support throughout my career, and to all the folks that I have worked with and continue to work with,” Baker said. “I want to thank all the teams, partners, officials and fans who have made our relationships so successful and are essential to the brands’ successes. I look forward to witnessing the continued success of our motorsports programs under Tony’s leadership, as well as the contributions of the Michelin Motorsport North America staff and volunteers, who are completely dedicated and invested in representing our brands in competition.”