Austin IMSA: Taylors spin and win, Porsche triumphs in GT war

Ricky and Jordan Taylor won a drama-packed Lone Star Le Mans IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at Austin’s Circuit of the Americas, but a sometimes ill-tempered GTLM battle was just as enthralling as the tight overall lead battle.

Austin IMSA: Taylors spin and win, Porsche triumphs in GT war
Start: #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor leads
#10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor
#31 Action Express Racing Corvette DP: Eric Curran, Dane Cameron
#5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP: Joao Barbosa, Christian Fittipaldi
#911 Porsche Team North America Porsche 911 RSR: Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet
#85 JDC/Miller Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Mikhail Goikhberg, Stephen Simpson
#70 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Joel Miller, Tom Long
#23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche GT3 R: Mario Farnbacher, Alex Riberas
#66 Ford Performance Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT: Joey Hand, Dirk Müller
#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Robert Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith
#52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09: Robert Alon, Tom Kimber-Smith
#55 Mazda Motorsports Mazda Prototype: Jonathan Bomarito, Tristan Nunez
Start: #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP: Ricky Taylor, Jordan Taylor leads

The Taylor brothers were dominating the race until a late-race spin at the final corner from Jordan in their Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP allowed Dane Cameron to catch him in the closing stages.

Cameron’s Action Express Corvette DP got alongside when Taylor hit traffic with just a handful of laps to go, but Jordan managed to hold him off to claim a hard-fought victory by 1.4s.

In a fascinating battle for the GTLM class, Ferrari and Porsche fought out an often-fractious duel during which the leading cars collided half a dozen times.

Toni Vilander set the tone when he ran the polesitting Ford right off the track at the exit of the first corner, but it was teammate Giancarlo Fisichella’s battle with Nick Tandy in the #911 Porsche appeared to have been the key to the Risi Ferrari’s fortunes – until Vilander pulled into the pits suffering an electrical problem with just 25 minutes remaining.

That handed a class 1-2 to Porsche, with the #912 of Earl Bamber/Frederic Makowiecki taking the win ahead of the Nick Tandy/Patrick Pilet sister car.

Story of the race

From pole position, Ricky Taylor made a great start to hold off the two Mazdas into Turn 1, with Tristan Nunez holding second from the #70 car of Joel Miller, and the Action Express Corvettes of Christian Fittipaldi and Eric Curran next up.

On lap seven, the Action Express cars collided as Curran tried to force his way past Fittipaldi and spun him around – and the #31 was penalised with a drive-through penalty. The whole episode dropped them back to seventh and eighth.

The first full-course caution was required for the #90 VisitFlorida Corvette DP, which pulled off on the back straight due to a loss of drive.

Jordan Taylor took over the leading Corvette at this point, with the recovering Action Express machines jumping ahead of the Mazdas into second and third.

At the restart, the DeltaWing half-spun the #60 Ligier of John Pew, the latter rejoining with a WeatherTech banner comically attaching itself to the front of his car and refusing to budge until a marshal could remove it for him. He also picked up a left-front puncture, as Katherine Legge was penalised with a drive-through penalty for the incident.

That led to another FCY, after which Jordan Taylor pulled away up front, stroking away to a seemingly dominant victory – until a quick spin at the final turn with 36 minutes remaining.  “We had a little bobble with the traction control,” explained Ricky Taylor from the pitwall.

That slashed the lead from well over 10s to 2.7s, and Cameron caught the leader with 16 minutes to go.

With just a few laps remaining, Taylor was baulked by a GTLM BMW, allowing Cameron to draw alongside at Turn 11, but Taylor just managed to hold him at bay.

Joao Barbosa, who took over the #5 car, suffered left-rear corner damage in a clash with the #007 Aston Martin GTD car of Ben Barker but still finished third.

The #70 Mazda of Miller/Tom Long placed fourth – following a spin in the Esses in the closing stages after a collision with Earl Bamber’s #912 Porsche.

The #55 Mazda retired at the half-distance mark, pulling off at the exit of Turn 11.

Starworks’ Renger van der Zande/Alex Popow scored Prototype Challenge victory, only passing the James French/Nicholas Boulle Performance Tech Motorsports car for the lead with moments to go.

Tom Kimber-Smith also passed French on the very last lap to grab second with Robert Alon in the pole-winning PR1/Mathiasen car.

Fierce GTLM lead battle

In GTLM, Vilander surged down the inside of the polesitting Ford of Briscoe at Turn 1, pushing him wide at the exit, which allowed both Porsches to jump past the #67 in the order #911 and #912, with the Corvettes giving chase at a distance.

Briscoe dropped further back in the first round of yellow-flag pitstops, falling behind both Corvettes. Giancarlo Fisichella just retained the #62 Ferrari’s lead, after racing side-by-side down the pitlane with Nick Tandy, who took over the #911.

Tandy passed Fisichella soon after the restart, as Fisichella got boxed in by some duelling PC-class cars through Turn 15.

Fisichella re-attacked Tandy at Turn 1 just before half distance, hitting Tandy no less than four times as they ran through the corner and on the exit.

A few laps later they touched two more times, with Fisichella finally barging through at Turn 10.

Briscoe brought the #67 in for an unscheduled pitstop following a clash with Tommy Milner’s Corvette – and the car was forced out, seriously impacting the title hopes of Briscoe and teammate Richard Westbrook.

Tandy lost vital time in his final pitstop when he was balked by GTD frontrunner Andy Lally’s Audi at the pitlane exit, but Ferrari’s hopes were dashed by an electrical problem in the final half an hour, which dropped the #62 car to eighth in class.

The final act was for the Porsches to swap places in the closing laps, so the #912 car took victory – despite its brush with the #70 Mazda.

The #3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen/Antonio Garcia inherited third, ahead of Dirk Werner/Bill Auberlen’s BMW and the second ’Vette of Milner/Oliver Gavin.

Alex Riberas led GTD from pole but a sticking right-rear wheel in a pitstop with an hour to go hampered his and Mario Farnbacher’s chances of victory, and their fate was sealed when the car ran out of fuel on the final lap.

All that ensured the class win went to the #96 BMW of Jens Klingmann/Bret Curtis.

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Series IMSA
Event Austin
Location Circuit of the Americas
Author Charles Bradley
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