Watkins Glen 240 IMSA: AXR leads Cadillac 1-2, Lexus 1-2 in GTD

Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani of Action Express Racing led home a Cadillac 1-2 in IMSA's WeatherTech 240 at Watkins Glen, after the race was red-flagged and became a 30-minute shootout.

Polesitter Ricky Taylor could be grateful for being well clear of the fracas at the start, as Chip Ganassi Racing’s Kevin Magnussen, after fending off the Action Express Racing Cadillac of  Derani, found himself drawing along the inside of Olivier Pla’s Meyer Shank Racing Acura.

Magnussen mounted the inside curb to avoid running into the Acura, but contact was inevitable, and it spun the Acura into the runoff area on the outside of Turn 1.

The muddle forced both Derani and Magnussen to lose enough momentum to allow Harry Tincknell’s Mazda RT24-P to steal through into second. And while the Wayne Taylor Racing Acura had led the race by 1.5sec at the end of Lap 1, by Lap 5 Tincknell was right up with him, although there the gap held.

Magnussen passed Derani after 10 laps and immediately tried to hack down the two-second gap to the leaders. Derani then stopped early, on Lap 12, yet Loic Duval stopped the JDC-Miller MotorSports Caddy just two laps later.

By Lap 20, the top three were covered by just 2sec, with Tincknell looking particularly eager to get by Taylor as they picked their way through traffic. At that point, Magnussen fell 4.5sec off their tail and at the end of Lap 23, he pitted the Ganassi Cadillac. A lap later, Taylor and Tincknell – and Pla, now running 40sec adrift – pitted. Taylor handed over to Filipe Albuquerque, but Tincknell stayed aboard the Mazda. Pla handed off to Dane Cameron.

Derani, who had been charging since his very early stop, took full advantage of Albuquerque on cold tires to slip the AXR Cadillac into the lead. Tincknell had to wait another 10 laps before he could pounce on Albuquerque as they tackled traffic, to pass the WTR Cadillac around the outside into Turn 1.

Once he’d done that, he zoomed away, and cut Derani’s advantage from 10sec to 7.5sec in the space of two laps – helped by the AXR briefly struggling through GT runners. At this point, Magnussen was five seconds down on Albuquerque in fourth, who was 12sec ahead of Duval. The apparently damaged MSR Acura was 65sec off the lead in sixth.

Tincknell took over the lead on Lap 34 when AXR pitted the leader, Derani handing the car to Nasr.

This looked a genius strategy – emulated by Duval next time by – when the Full Course Yellow flew on Lap 36, for Grasser Racing Team’s GTD Lamborghini coming to a halt at the Bus Stop chicane. However, their advantage was shrunk by a heavy downpour which would mean all the leaders would need to stop again for rain tires.

Then with 1hr04min run, the race was red-flagged and the cars trickled into pitlane, due to lightning in the area.

The race went back to Full Course Yellow with 50mins to run, the cars rolled off and they all pitted as soon as the pits opened. Taking only a splash of fuel having stopped so recently, the #31 AXR Cadillac and #5 JDC-Miller Cadillac (now driven by Tristan Vautier) emerged first and third, split by Albuquerque. Renger van der Zande was fourth in the CGR Cadillac ahead of Oliver Jarvis who had taken over the Mazda.

Like all Prototype drivers, Jarvis had taken on more slicks despite the wet track surface, and he spun under yellow at Turn 8 but got going again apparently without damage, but then van der Zande stopped again, so the Mazda moved up to fourth.

The green flag came with 36mins to go, but within a lap there was a yellow flag to retrieve some bodywork from the GTD Lexus of Jack Hawksworth.

With 28mins to go, the race got underway again, and while Nasr broke away, Vautier deposed Albuquerque for second, as Albuquerque had to face a challenge from first Jarvis and then a van der Zande, who took advantage of the two cars ahead restricting each other’s momentum. He took just a few corners to also depose Albuquerque for third and then pass Vautier for second.

Meanwhile, as Jarvis attempted another attack on Albuquerque, he lost out to the Meyer Shank Acura, now with a new nose and tail, in the hands of Dane Cameron.

Nasr and van der Zande swiftly stretched a lead over their fellow Cadillac runner Vautier, who was having to protect his third place from Albuquerque with 20mins to go. Cameron and Jarvis, meanwhile, had fallen off the back of this pack but were engaged in their own duel for fifth.

Albuquerque finally muscled by Vautier to claim third with fewer than 10mins to go, ending GM’s hopes of a Cadillac 1-2-3. With three minutes to go, Jarvis limited the damage to Mazda’s title hopes, by moving ahead of Cameron, but Vautier was three seconds up the road. That didn’t stop Jarvis, who charged onto the tail of Vautier, but came up probably just one lap short.

Up front, Nasr held on to win by 1.473sec over van der Zande, with Albuquerque a further nine seconds behind, while Vautier just staved off Jarvis by 0.4sec.

Class wins for PR1/Mathiasen, Riley, Corvette

In LMP2, PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports' Ben Keating held off Steven Thomas (WIN Autosport) and John Farano (Tower Motorsport) at the start, and teammate Mikkel Jensen did the rest.

Thomas’s teammate Tristan Nunez was spun on a restart and dropped to third but charged hard and passed Gabriel Aubry’s Tower Motorsport car with two laps to go to claim second.

LMP3 again saw fortunes swing back and forth. Polesitter Matteo Llarena of Performance Tech Motorsports had already lost the lead to Andretti Autosports' Jarett Andretti when the news came through that he was being penalized for not holding the right side of the grid at the start of the race and would have to endure a drive-through penalty.

Andretti remained in front before handing off to Oliver Askew, but the open-wheel ace made a last minute top-up of fuel under yellow following the race stoppage and dropped to the back of the pack. That became fourth when Colin Braun’s CORE autosport car tagged the Performance Tech car – now driven by Rasmus Lindh – into a spin.

That was as far as his hopes went. Up front, Felipe Fraga and Dylan Murry ran 1-2 for Riley Motorsports to the checkered flag, although Murry remained under hard pressure from Braun for the duration of the race.

In GT Le Mans, polesitter Jordan Taylor held the lead at the start of the race in the #3 Corvette C8.R but teammate Nick Tandy deposed him on Lap 6. However, Taylor stayed within 3sec of the #4 Corvette, and pitted a lap earlier to hand over to Antonio Garcia, while Tandy relinquished the leading ’Vette to Milner next time by.

After the race stoppage and second restart, Garcia moved the #3 car ahead of the #4 and pulled out a three-second lead, eventually crossing the line 1.9sec ahead of Milner.

Matt Campbell in the WeatherTech/Proton Porsche was up near them for the race restart but was penalized for a pitlane infraction by the crew.

Lexus gets 1-2 in GTD

The GT Daytona class served up a thriller, as ever. Frankie Montecalvo in the #12 Lexus RC F of Vasser Sullivan Racing and Richard Heistand in the Carbahn Peregrine Racing Audi R8 both passed Madison Snow’s pole-winning Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan at the start of the race.

In fact, the pair of them had pulled 7sec on Snow by Lap 8, leaving him to fend off Roman De Angelis in the Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage, the second Lexus of Aaron Telitz and the two Acura NSXs of Gradient and Compass Racing respectively.

By the time De Angelis and Telitz did make it through to third and fourth, ahead of Snow, they were just under a dozen seconds behind Montecalvo.

Montecalvo pitted on Lap 32 – just before the full-course yellow – to hand over to Zach Veach, and Hawksworth took over the second Lexus in fourth from Telitz, the pair separated by Heistand and Ross Gunn, who’d taken over the HoR Aston Martin.

Hawksworth’s good work didn’t stop there, and following the restart, he demoted not only Gunn but also teammate Veach to take the lead of the class, and lead home a very close Lexus 1-2.

Gunn just about held onto the final podium spot ahead of Jeff Westphal, who’d replaced Heistand in the Carbahn Audi. Daniel Morad drove well to claim fifth for Alegra Motorsports, while Gradient Racing won the battle of the Acura NSXs, after Compass Racing’s similar car ended its race early with damage to a brake line - according to IMSA Radio, possibly after running over the debris from Hawksworth fractured front bumper.

Regular GTD stars Turner Motorsports lost 19 laps soon after the start when the BMW M6 suffered steering issues.

Race results:

Cla Class Num Driver Chassis Laps Gap
1 DPi 31 Brazil Felipe Nasr
Brazil Pipo Derani
Cadillac DPi 63  
2 DPi 01 Netherlands Renger van der Zande
Denmark Kevin Magnussen
Cadillac DPi 63 1.473
3 DPi 10 United States Ricky Taylor
Portugal Filipe Albuquerque
Acura DPi 63 10.315
4 DPi 5 France Tristan Vautier
France Loic Duval
Cadillac DPi 63 12.025
5 DPi 55 United Kingdom Oliver Jarvis
United Kingdom Harry Tincknell
Mazda DPi 63 12.446
6 DPi 60 United States Dane Cameron
France Olivier Pla
Acura DPi 63 15.107
7 LMP2 52 United States Ben Keating
Denmark Mikkel Jensen
ORECA LMP2 07 59 4 Laps
8 LMP2 11 United States Thomas Steven
United States Tristan Nunez
ORECA LMP2 07 59 4 Laps
9 LMP2 8 Canada John Farano
France Gabriel Aubry
ORECA LMP2 07 59 4 Laps
10 LMP3 74 United States Gar Robinson
Brazil Felipe Fraga
Ligier JS P320 59 4 Laps
11 LMP3 91 United States Jim Cox
United States Dylan Murry
Ligier JS P320 59 4 Laps
12 LMP3 54 United States Jon Bennett
United States Colin Braun
Ligier JS P320 59 4 Laps
13 LMP3 36 United States Jarett Andretti
United States Oliver Askew
Ligier JS P320 59 4 Laps
14 GTLM 3 Spain Antonio Garcia
United States Jordan Taylor
Corvette C8.R 59 4 Laps
15 GTLM 4 United States Tommy Milner
United Kingdom Nick Tandy
Corvette C8.R 59 4 Laps
16 GTLM 79 United States Cooper MacNeil
Australia Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR - 19 58 5 Laps
17 LMP3 38 Sweden Rasmus Lindh
Guatemala Mateo Llarena
Ligier JS P320 58 5 Laps
18 GTD 14 United States Aaron Telitz
United Kingdom Jack Hawksworth
Lexus RC F GT3 57 6 Laps
19 GTD 12 United States Frankie Montecalvo
United States Zach Veach
Lexus RC F GT3 57 6 Laps
20 GTD 23 Canada Roman De Angelis
United Kingdom Ross Gunn
Aston Martin Vantage GT3 57 6 Laps
21 GTD 39 United States Richard Heistand
United States Jeff Westphal
Audi R8 LMS GT3 57 6 Laps
22 GTD 28 United States Michael de Quesada
Canada Daniel Morad
Mercedes-AMG GT3 57 6 Laps
23 GTD 66 United States Till Bechtolsheimer
United States Marc Miller
Acura NSX GT3 57 6 Laps
24 GTD 32 United States Guy Cosmo
United States Shane Lewis
Mercedes-AMG GT3 57 6 Laps
25 GTD 88 United States Rob Ferriol
United Kingdom Katherine Legge
Porsche 911 GT3 R 57 6 Laps
26 GTD 76 Jeff Kingsley
Germany Mario Farnbacher
Acura NSX GT3 54 9 Laps
27 GTD 1 United States Bryan Sellers
United States Madison Snow
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 48 15 Laps
28 GTD 19 Canada Mikhail Goikhberg
France Franck Perera
Lamborghini Huracan GT3 48 15 Laps
29 GTD 96 United States Bill Auberlen
United States Robby Foley
BMW M6 GT3 31 32 Laps
30 LMP3 84 Theodor Olsen
Dominic Cicero
Ligier JS P320 31 32 Laps
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