IMSA Prototype “three-horse race” enters final stages

Mazda and Cadillac teams head to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca determined to gain on Acura’s championship-leading Wayne Taylor Racing team.

IMSA Prototype “three-horse race” enters final stages

The WTR Acura ARX-05 of Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor lies 41 and 43 points ahead respectively of the Action Express Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R of Felipe Nasr/Pipo Derani and the Mazda RT24-P of Harry Tincknell/Oliver Jarvis, with three rounds to go.

The IMSA points system this year sees 35 points awarded for pole and 350 for a race win, but there are only six fulltime cars in the class, and sixth place on the grid and sixth in the race earns 25 and 250 points respectively. This 110-point gap between first and last will increase only at Petit Le Mans where AXR’s second Cadillac will rejoin the fray.

With the Ganassi Cadillac drivers in fourth place in the championship, over 200 points adrift of Albuquerque/Taylor, the title battle has distilled to a three-way fight with three rounds to go – this week’s 2hr40min race at Laguna Seca, the 1hr40min race at Long Beach, and the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

Looking ahead to this weekend’s Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship race, Tincknell commented: “I can remember driving around Laguna on Gran Turismo on the Playstation when I was six or seven years old. So it is always special to go there as a real life racecar driver, competing in one of the hardest sportscar championships in the world.

“We did well last time out at Road America and closed everything up at the top of the championship. We know that we’re basically equal on points with the #31, and the #10 is just ahead so we have everything to play for.

“It's a three-horse race now so we need another strong and consistent run. In the past couple of years we haven’t been as strong as we hoped at Laguna in terms of the results but last year I had the fastest stint averages in the race so we know we can get better results there.”

Jarvis observed: “As a team we have had mixed results at Laguna in the past and it is a very difficult race to predict ours and our competitors’ relative performance.

“Regardless we head there as prepared and motivated as possible with our sights firmly set on trying to take our second win of the season and keep ourselves in the championship fight.”

Nasr and Derani are on a hot streak after winning the last two IMSA rounds.

“I’m excited to be returning to Laguna Seca,” Nasr said. “It’s an iconic track on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule. It’s a very technical one.

“We’ll take each day as it comes at Laguna. That place is very technical and quite tricky to set up the car for one lap, with regards to qualifying pace… But track position is important, so qualifying will be crucial. Again, we’ll do what it takes to keep the fight alive all the way until the end.

“Laguna Seca has been good to us in the past in terms of consistency. We were on the podium there the last two years. We definitely want to be two steps higher if we can. It would be great to grab a win at Laguna. I haven’t ticked that box yet, so it would be awesome to get a win in California.”

Points leader Albuquerque said: “We were so strong at Road America, and Laguna is another track that suits us. The championship is so close that it will be very important for us to win this race.

“We need to keep the lead and get a bit more room to breathe in the championship. We are optimistic about it, but we know our competitors are very strong as well. We will see how it goes, but we will also have fun driving the car there.”

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