TUDOR Championship inaugural season rolls into ‘Motor City’

Saturday’s race will be a one-hour, 40-minute sprint.

DETROIT – The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship is making its debut in the American auto industry’s backyard.

The championship’s Prototype (P) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes will be on the 2.36-mile street circuit for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Saturday, the inaugural season’s fifth race and part of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix weekend. With the “Detroit 3” and myriad suppliers headquartered here, there will be plenty of eyes on the track as action gets underway Friday morning with practice followed by afternoon qualifying. Saturday’s race will be a one-hour, 40-minute sprint.

The American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrὀn and the GRAND-AM Rolex Sports Car Series both ran on Belle Isle in past years, but this will be the first appearance for the unified TUDOR Championship, which resulted from the merger of those two former series.

#555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia: Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell
#555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia: Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell

Photo by: James Holland

Even though Chevy’s bowtie will be all over the race course, automakers from across the Atlantic also will have a heavy presence. Ferrari, Porsche, Audi and BMW share the top 10 spots in the production-based GTD standings and series co-leaders Townsend Bell, who drove in last weekend’s Indianapolis 500, and Bill Sweedler arrive in Detroit to challenge Andy Lally and John Potter in a Ferrari-Porsche battle.

Those two teams are at the top of the standings with 87 points each but the Audi team of Nelson Canache Jr. and Spencer Pumpelly are just four points behind. Canache and Pumpelly arrive in Detroit still stinging from a May 4 outing at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that saw them dominate the race before running out of fuel on the final lap. Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala’s Turner Motorsports BMW entry was the beneficiary and went on to take the checkered flag.

The Belle Isle course often makes passing difficult, which should reward frontrunners and teams with the fastest stops in a series that has seen plenty of close racing in its first three outings.

Canache and Pumpelly, who opened the season by winning the Rolex 24 at Daytona, are seeking their second victory, along with Potter and Lally, who were first at the 12 Hours of Sebring.

#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS: Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly
#45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS: Nelson Canache, Spencer Pumpelly

Photo by: James Holland

The European dominance in the GTD class won’t leave the weekend’s title sponsor disappointed because in the headlining P class, the Corvette DP team of Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi arrive with the points lead. Brothers Jordan and Ricky Taylor, who also co-drive a Corvette DP, are three points behind in a tie for second with Ford EcoBoost/Riley drivers Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett. Barbosa and Fittipaldi began the season with a victory at Daytona but Pruett and Rojas won at the series’ next two stops, Sebring and the Long Beach street race. Honda drivers Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek are the most recent winners after their May 4 win at Mazda Raceway. They enter this weekend trailing the lead trio of teams.

The TUDOR Championship’s GT Le Mans class won’t be on Belle Isle this weekend as a number of the class’ teams and drivers will be in Le Mans, France testing for the upcoming 24 Hours of Le Mans.

After a pair of practice sessions, TUDOR Championship qualifying will go 5:25-6 p.m. ET on Friday. The race begins Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET and FOX Sports 1 begins its broadcast at 1:30 p.m. ET. IMSA.com and MRN.com will carry the race live beginning at noon ET.

Scott Held - NASCAR Wire Service

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About this article
Series IMSA
Drivers Christian Fittipaldi , Scott Pruett , Townsend Bell , Andy Lally , Joao Barbosa , Memo Rojas , Johannes van Overbeek , Spencer Pumpelly , Markus Palttala , Dane Cameron , John Potter , Ricky Taylor , Ed Brown , Bill Sweedler , Nelson Canache
Teams Turner Motorsport , Flying Lizard Motorsports
Article type Preview
Tags andy lally, audi, bill sweedler, bmw, dane cameron, ferrari, john potter, markus palttala, motor city, nelson canache jr., porsche, spencer pumpelly, townsend bell, tusc