Lime Rock IMSA: Werner and Pilet lead dominant Porsche 1-2
Dirk Werner and Patrick Pilet won a caution-free, GT-only round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship at tight and twisty Lime Rock Park, heading a Porsche 1-2.
The race was dominated by the works Porsche 911 squad, and the duel between its two cars was decided around the time of the first round of pitstops, when poleman Gianmaria Bruni went off at Turn 1 and was forced to pit, and where the #912 car was further delayed by a sticking wheel.
This handed the advantage to the #911 sister car, which scored the first win for the mid-engined 911 RSR model in the American series.
Pilet said: "It's amazing. These guys worked so hard, and we've been so close so many times."
Story of the GTLM race
Approaching the rolling start, Bruni rocketed away from the pack at the apex of the final corner, which caught out fellow front-row starter Richard Westbrook (Ford GT). It allowed the second Porsche of Dirk Werner to leap immediately to second, and the lead BMW of John Edwards also took advantage to grab third from Westbrook around the outside of the first corner.
Westbrook then rubbed bodywork with Tommy Milner’s Chevrolet Corvette on the opening lap, but held fourth with Jan Magnussen sixth in the second Chevy from the second Ford of Dirk Muller and the BMW of Bill Auberlen/Alexander Sims.
After 30 minutes, Muller had worked his way past both Chevys, but Milner re-attacked him straight after with disastrous consequences: The Chevy man locked up under braking for the Climbing Esses and spun into Muller’s Ford. That sent Milner behind the wall, and Muller lost time with extensive repairs on his Ford's right-rear corner.
Leader Bruni had to pit the #912 early due to a radiator full of grass after a Turn 1 excursion, handing over to co-driver Laurens Vanthoor but only after a slow left-rear tire change. Bruni explained: “The run was good, but the last lap before I pitted, I locked the rear wheels and went off, losing a position, and then we had the issue in the pitstop.”
The sister #911 of Patrick Pilet, who took over from Werner, had a much smoother stop and rejoined 18sec clear of the #912.
Edwards enjoyed a spell in the lead, with Martin Tomczyk briefly stalling after he took over from him. Westbrook stayed out the longest, clearly on an extreme fuel-saving strategy, and pitted from the lead after 75 minutes.
Porsche’s 1-2 was now restored with the #911 12sec ahead of the delayed #912. Edwards/Tomczyk ran third for BMW, ahead of the points-leading Magnussen/Antonio Garcia Corvette and Auberlen/Sims BMW. The Westbrook/Ryan Briscoe Ford was now sixth, but running to different strategy.
The Porsches pitted together with just over an hour remaining, with the Garcia Corvette opting to run long in this stint and lead some laps before dropping back to fifth when it did stop.
With the Porsches running untroubled to a 1-2 finish, with 14sec between them, there was a huge battle for third between the Edwards/Tomczyk BMW and the Magnussen/Garcia ’Vette. Garcia tapped the BMW at Turn 1 with six minutes to go, but Tomczyk clung on.
More contact was made on the penultimate lap, but Tomczyk again stood firm.
The Westbrook/Briscoe Ford – which had run third for much of the final hour – slumped to fifth, despite its frugal first stint, due to requiring a late splash-n-dash stop.
The #25 BMW of Sims/Auberlen was sixth, with the #66 Ford trailing home seventh, five laps down.
Porsche also wins GT Daytona
Polesitter Madison Snow’s Lamborghini Huracan led the GTD class from the start, ahead of Patrick Long (a late call-up in Alegra Motorsports’ Porsche 911) until Long worked his way past Snow in the opening stint when the Lamborghini got trapped in behind the wayward Porsche of Jon Bennett.
With Patrick Lindsey starting the Park Place Porsche 911, he handed over to Jorg Bergmeister to run the majority of the race. Bergmeister charged his way to the front, with Bryan Sellers (in for Snow in the Paul Miller-run Lamborghini) giving chase. Sellers came up 3sec short, but claimed second ahead of Long/Daniel Morad-driven Alegra Porsche.
Winner Bergmeister said: "[Patrick] did a really good job at the beginning, and it worked out really well. A great weekend for Porsche!"
Lime Rock IMSA: Bruni takes his first pole for Porsche
Ford: “Unbelievable” lack of cautions ruined Lime Rock strategy