Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook captured an overall win in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca for the TUDOR United Sports Car Championship.
It marked the first win for the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP since last June’s race at New York’s Watkins Glen International, a span of nine races. The finish was the pair’s fourth consecutive podium result in TUDOR Championship competition.
Valiante started the No. 90 Prototype on the inside of the second row in third place. Not content with the option of a conservative strategy, he dove to the inside of the leaders as the Prototype field entered the first corner of the 11-turn, 2.238-mile long circuit. The move stuck, and Valiante took the lead on the very first lap of the race. Between the first 15 laps of the race led by Valiante and the last 29 laps of the race led by co-driver Richard Westbrook, the No. 90 led 44 out of 112 laps in the two hour, 40 minute race on the way to victory.
With the win, Valiante and Westbrook have taken over the Prototype championship lead from Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa of the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP. Fittipaldi and Barbosa held on to second place in the standings with 125 points after a fourth-place run and trail Valiante and Westbrook by four points.
The No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP driven by Jordan and Ricky Taylor finished second. The brothers led a combined 60 laps and the race came to a close with Ricky Taylor hot on the heels of Westbrook. He finished the race a mere 1.351 seconds behind.
Third place was claimed by Oswaldo Negri Jr. and John Pew, drivers of the No. 60 Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian Ligier JS P2/Honda HPD. The team led one lap and set the fastest lap of the race on Lap 84 at 1:19.303.
NEWS AND NOTES
· The Taylor brothers achieved their third consecutive top-two finish and moved to third in the Prototype point standings. They are within 11 points of leaders Valiante and Westbrook, 129-118, after the No. 10 team was relegated to last in class in the Rolex 24 At Daytona due to a drive-time miscalculation.
· The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda had just two caution periods for eight combined laps, lasting less than 15 minutes total.
· Action Express Racing continued its streak of completing every possible lap in TUDOR Championship competition. Their current total of 3,447 laps adds up to 11,118 miles.
· The DeltaWing Racing DWC13 headed to the garage early in the race for an issue with their exhaust. After returning for a brief stint, the team had to retire from the race for good with a brake issue after completing 38 laps.
Michael Valiante (No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP): “It was a challenge, the brakes and tires were cold going into Turn 1. I got a good start; I got on the inside of Jordan. We made a little unintentional contact slipping down the inside. It was clean for a while, but then we hit heavy, heavy traffic. I got frustrated, I was really boxed in. I got by one PC with a little contact, going into Turn 1 was a huge traffic jam. I made contact with a GTLM car, and I think it hit Jordan on the other side. We sort of forced him off the road and gave him a different line. But it was a good race.”
Richard Westbrook (No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Racing Corvette DP): “It was a great race to be a part of, and fighting these guys. It was a really interesting sports car race. …. Everyone at the team worked really hard, and it was about time to get better than 3rd and be where we deserved. Every lap I was worried, I never gapped him, he was always there. I know how quick Ricky is. We just had enough to keep him even at the end, but I was eating up tires pretty quick as well.”
Jordan Taylor (No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP): “It’s definitely different to start, its aggressive in turn 1. I got hit a couple of times. It’s good racing I think. It must have been exciting from outside, it was crazy inside. You’re working on qualifying tires, so you’re struggling the whole time. Once I got fresh tires, it was night and day, I was able to drive a full stint, more of what I’m used to.”