IMSA: Nick Tandy leads Porsche 1-2 at VIR

2 Comments

With five victories in IMSA GTLM competition entering this weekend’s round at Virginia International Raceway, it may have been a surprise to some that Porsche had yet to achieve a 1-2 finish in 2019.

That all changed in Sunday afternoon’s Michelin GT Challenge, as Nick Tandy in the No. 911 Porsche led teammate Earl Bamber to the checkered flag for the first 1-2 finish for the factory team since Lime Rock in 2017.

The sixth victory of the season for the team also crowned them the IMSA WeatherTech Championship manufacturer’s title, and it was all smiles in victory lane for Tandy and co-driver Patrick Pilet.

“It’s fun when you’re in front, or when you’re behind even, but when you’re in front it would obviously be nice to have a team order,” Tandy told NBC Sports. “The good thing about Porsche is that they let us race. I think we’ve seen that throughout the year.”

The two Porsche entries dominated the 2-hour 40-minute event, with the No. 911 passing polesitter Laurens Vanthoor No. 912 in the pits despite swapping out Tandy (who started the race) for Pilet.

The lead changed in the pits once again approximately halfway through the race when the No. 912 took the lead back from it’s sister entry after swapping Vanthoor for Bamber, while Tandy took back over for Pilet.

But Tandy did not give up, and slowly began closing the gap between first and second before finally retaking the lead when Bamber made his final pit stop.

Tandy held on for the victory, despite a late-race caution for an accident by Katherine Legge that bunched the field together one final time. With Bamber finishing second, Antonio Garcia in the the No. 3 Corvette C7.R shared with Jan Magnussen finished third to complete the GLTM podium.

GTD: Keating/Bleekmolen win first race of the season for Mercedes

In GT Daytona, Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekmolen in the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 took the class victory for the first time in 2019, with Bleekmolen making the race-winning pass on the No. 86 Acura of Mario Farnbacher with 50 minutes remaining.

Bleekmolen held on to the lead through the checkered flag, with Farnbacher and co-driver Trent Hindman having to settle for a second-place finish.

Toni Vilander in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 was able to make a last lap pass on Scott Hargrove in the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R to take the final position on the GTD podium.

The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now heads to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna for the second-to-last race of the season. Live race coverage begins on September 15 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC. 

Click here for full race results 

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter 

Valtteri Bottas takes pole position for season-opening Austrian GP

Leonhard Foeger/Pool via Getty Images
Leave a comment

SPIELBERG, Austria — Valtteri Bottas upstaged Mercedes teammate Lewis Hamilton to take pole position Saturday for the Formula One Austrian GP.

The Finnish driver edged out the world champion by 0.012 seconds to claim the top spot for the season opener at the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg. He clenched his fist as he climbed out of his car and shared a hug with Hamilton.

“It’s something special when you push the car to the limit,” said Bottas, who is chasing an eighth career win. “Feels so good. It’s very impressive (from the team).”

Red Bull’s Max Verstappen was third, and Lando Norris gave McLaren a boost by finishing fourth. Verstappen has won the past two years here, including 2019 when he started third behind Hamilton and Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc.

“It’s going to be interesting quite a bit warmer tomorrow and hopefully this will play to our advantage,” Verstappen said. “Today, Mercedes was on a different level, unfortunately. Last year we were also a little bit off in qualifying so I expect we will be a bit better in the race.”

Bottas had the leading time when drivers embarked on their final laps and beat his own mark before sliding off the track into the gravel.

Hamilton was chasing a record-extending 89th career pole. He was ahead but then dropped off slightly as Bottas secured a 12th career pole.

“Great job by Valtteri. It’s a great start to the season,” Hamilton said. “We show year on year that we continue to be the best team. We’re open-minded … constantly learning from each other and pushing the boundaries.”

Ferrari struggled for speed, with Leclerc nearly one second behind in seventh and Sebastian Vettel failing to make it into the third and final part of qualifying, known as Q3. He starts the race from 11th on the grid.

Vettel is leaving Ferrari at the end of the season with his future in F1 uncertain.

Earlier, Hamilton posted the fastest time in morning practice. The 35-year-old British driver was also quickest in both sessions on Friday.

Midway through third practice, F1 newcomer Nicholas Latifi misjudged the exit of a turn and spun his Williams car into a protective tire wall.