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IMSA: Lime Rock – Starworks, Corvette, Magnus Audi winners

Robert Alon (#52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports), James French (#38 Performance Tech Motorsports), and Jose Gutierrez (#7 Starworks Motorsports) were the first three cars on the grid, all in Prototype Challenge (Oreca 05-Chevrolet’s) as the Prototype’s had the weekend off.

Richard Westbrook (#67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing GT) started on GT Le Mans pole, followed by Dirk Werner (#25 BMW Team RLL M6) and Tommy Milner (#4 Corvette Racing C7.R). Spencer Pumpelly (#16 Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan) led the GT Daytona field to the green flag, ahead of Andrew Davis (#6 Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8) and Matt Bell (#9 Stevenson Audi).

The start was waved off twice. Werner took the lead at the start, with Westbrook moving off the track to the left on the next turn and falling through the field. The first caution flew at with 2 hr 34 min left in the 2:40 race as the #100 Team RLL BMW spun after contact with a factory GTLM Porsche and hit the wall.

Alon led Alex Popow (#8 Starworks) and Gutierrez under the caution. Toni Vilander (#62 Risi Competitzione Ferrari 488) had moved into second between Werner and Milner in GTLM. A second yellow flag emerged at 2:11, when Patrick Pilet’s Porsche stopped on the edge of the track.

Subsequent pit stops saw Popow move to the overall lead, followed by Gutierrez and #85. GTD saw Cooper MacNeil (#22 Alex Job Racing Porsche) ahead of John Potter (#44 Magnus Racing Audi) and Ben Keating (#33 Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper GT).

Keating pitted under green with 2 hr to go after on off-course excursion, moving Madison Snow (#48 Formula Racing Lamborghini) into GTD third. A fourth caution came out moments later when the #911 Porsche stopped on track again. The #85 made an emergency pit stop after spinning and colliding with the #63 Ferrari of Christina Nielsen, moving French into third overall.

Gutierrez caught a trackside sign on his rear wing after leaving the track to avoid contact during the first green lap and  had to pit. Popow led Alon and French with 1:47 left. MacNeil led Snow and Bell in GTD as Potter pitted and handed off to Andy Lally. MacNeil had yet to pit and as his tires started to fade Snow passed him for the lead with Bell and Davis following.

Vilander muscled his way past Werner while making their way through GTD traffic at 1:35. Earl Bamber (#912 Porsche North America 911) took third from Milner. Davis took second from Bell in GTD and a few minutes later made it past Snow for the lead. Mario Farnbacher ran third in the #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche. Farnbacher took second from Snow with 1:14 to go.

Another caution period began a few minutes later as Bamber took both Werner and himself out. Milner moved up to second behind Vilander, with Westbrook in third. The GTLM field took its final scheduled stop. Renger van der Zande (#8) and Tom Kimber-Smith (#52) remained on track under the caution to run 1-2 both overall and in PC. Giancarlo Fisichella (#62 Ferrari), Oliver Gavin (#4 Corvette) and Ryan Briscoe (#67 Ford GT) ran 1-3 in GTLM when green flag competition resumed with 59 min left. Jeroen Bleekemolen (#33 Dodge Viper) led GTD, followed by Alex Riberas (#23 Porsche) and Robin Liddell (#6 Audi).

With just over 30 min left, Fisichella lost traction and ran off course exiting Lime Rock’s “Big Bend” Turn 1-2 complex, opening the door for Gavin to move into the lead. Four laps later, Fisichella again ran wide exiting Turn 2, allowing Briscoe and Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette to move into second and third.

With 20 min remaining, Garcia took second place away from Briscoe but didn’t challenge Gavin over the remaining distance, finishing 0.975 sec behind his teammate to preserve the team’s sweep of the top-two positions.

The win was Corvette Racing’s 100th sports car racing victory and 60th 1-2 sweep. It was the third victory of the 2016 WeatherTech Championship season for the the #4 C7.R and the first since back-to-back GTLM class victories in the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring. The victory extended Milner and Gavin’s lead in the GTLM standings to 10 points, 228-218 over the #67 Ford GT which saw its three-race GTLM win streak come to an end with the third-place run.

“Brilliant job by the Corvette Racing team giving me a great car today and Tommy for driving a great first stint,” Gavin said. “Brilliant day all around. We extended our lead in the championship, so it’s all good. It’s amazing to get the 100th win today. I’ve been a part of the Corvette Racing team for a long time, and this team has done an amazing job throughout my career. I just have to thank them and my great teammates.”

Van der Zande, Kimber-Smith, and Kyle Marcelli (#38) finished 1-3 in PC. Lally (Audi), Liddell (Audi), and Bleekemolen (Viper) doing the same in GTD.

 

 View full results via Al Kamel Systems at Results.IMSA.com

 

 

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