A wild day at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca saw Johannes van Overbeek and Pipo Derani survive a host of on-track carnage to take the win, their second of the year, on Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 in their No. 22 Nissan Onroak DPi for Tequila Patron ESM.
Van Overbeek, who started the race, needed to evade a pileup that collected Joao Barbosa (No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R), Dirk Mueller (No. 66 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi Racing), and Nick Tandy (No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR for Porsche GT Team) just as the green flag waved. A stackup saw Barbosa spin after contact with Misha Goikhberg (No. 99 Oreca 07 Gibson for JDC-Miller Motorsports), and both Mueller and Tandy collided with him in the aftermath.
Van Overbeek, however, managed to avoid the chaos and continue on.
Later, Derani, now piloting the No. 22 Nissan, charged through the Prototype field after a spin of his own on Lap 23 – he made contact with the aforementioned Goikhberg entering Turn 1 – to run second behind Harry Tincknell in the No. 55 Mazda RT24-P, which dominated the second half of the race for Mazda Team Joest.
Derani then emerged in the lead when Ticknell spun after contact with Gustavo Yacaman (No. 52 Oreca for AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports) when he tried to put a lap on him. Tincknell fell as low as sixth at the time, while Derani was clear of the field and free to take the win, taking the checkered flag over 10 seconds ahead of second-place Colin Braun.
Braun, and co-driver Jon Bennett, slashed the points deficit to Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran (No. 5 Whelen Engineering Cadillac for Action Express) to four points. Bennett started the race in the No. 54 Oreca for CORE autosport, but the team elected to pit him under the second caution – a GT Daytona traffic jam on a restart saw Bill Auberlen spin and stall and Justin Marks suffer damage to the front of his Meyer Shank Racing No. 93 Acura NSX GT3.
The stop allowed CORE to put Braun in the car – Bennett had met his minimum drive time by that point – and Braun bulldozed through the field in the final 30 minutes to go from fourth to second, passing the Acura Team Penske duo of Juan Montoya (No. 6 Acura ARX-05) and Ricky Taylor (No. 7)).
Braun cleared Taylor to take second for good after Taylor had contact with GT traffic in the final minutes, damaging the right-rear suspension on his No. 7 Acura.
Behind them, Montoya hung on for third, while Tincknell got around Nasr to take fourth, relegating Nasr to fifth.
As a result, Braun and Bennett now trail Nasr and Eric Curran by only four points entering the Motul Petit Le Mans.
In GT Le Mans (GTLM), BMW Team RLL used fuel strategy to help Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi take their second straight win of the 2018 season.
BMW Team RLL tried to stretch the fuel with both entries, and saw Jon Edwards (No. 25 BMW M8 GTE) lead De Phillippi (No. 25) in the final minutes, but Edwards needed to pit for a splash of fuel with seven minutes remaining.
That stop left De Phillippi in the lead, and he was able to stretch his fuel to the end, a total of 53 laps, to edge the No. 912 Porsche of Laurens Vanthoor.
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished third in the No. 3 Corvette C7.R for Corvette Racing, with Edwards ending up fourth.
The GTLM championship also saw a dramatic shakeup of its own when both Ford Chip Ganassi Racing cars had trouble. The aforementioned Mueller, with co-driver Joey Hand, were collected in the opening lap pileup, while the sister No. 67 Ford suffered damage to the right-front after Richard Westbrook made contact with Oliver Gavin’s No. 4 Corvette early on.
This means that Garcia and Magnussen increased their lead in the championship, despite not having a win to their name in 2018.
In GT Daytona (GTD), Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente took the win (Legge’s second of 2018, while it was Parente’s first) after Parente made a string of late-race passes to go from fourth to first in the final minutes.
Parente was able to pass Bryan Sellers (No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3), Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports), and Joerg Bergmeister (No. 73 Porsche 911 GT3 for Park Place Motorsports) in the final minutes to claim the victory for him and Legge.
What’s more, with Sellers, and co-driver Madison Snow, finishing fourth, the win moves Legge to within six points of them in the standings.
Full results can be viewed here. The season finale for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship comes next month with the Motul Petit Le Mans on October 13.