This weekend at a hot and slick Lime Rock Park, Starworks Motorsport earned their first overall win of the season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Following successful runs at the Detroit Grand Prix in June and the 6 Hours of the Glen in July, this marks the third win of the season for the Prototype Challenge points leaders.
Alex Popow started the two hours and 40 minute race in fifth, and despite contact from behind as the field went green, he advanced to second position in the opening lap. The heat increased as the race went on, with track temperatures reaching over 131 degrees. With five caution periods throughout the race, the track conditions worsened, making for tense racing between the three IMSA classes. Popow kept the car out of trouble and on the lead lap, even leading several laps during his stint. Renger van der Zande took over with just over an hour and a half remaining. He rejoined in third, and within 30 minutes was leading the field. For the final hour, van der Zande and the second place car of Tom Kimber-Smith fought hard through traffic for the lead, with a seven second gap being reduced in seconds, only to be gained again. In the end, the No. 8 car crossed the finish line in first, 0.815 seconds ahead of Kimber-Smith in the No. 52.
The No. 88 of Mark Kvamme and Remo Ruscitti also ran a clean, error free race, starting eighth. With less than an hour and a half remaining on the race clock, Ruscitti suffered contact from a GLTM car behind him, but the team quickly determined damage had been minimal. The duo earned an impressive top five finish, avoiding the incidents of so many cars in the field. The No. 7 of Jose Gutierrez and Sean Rayhall proved to be strong all weekend, qualifying fourth ahead of the two sister Starworks cars. Gutierrez had a strong start, making his way to third to run behind Popow, within three seconds of the race leader. Trouble hit during Rayhall’s stint, when a clutch issue forced the team to return to the garage and retire from the event.
The No. 8 of van der Zande and Alex Popow continues to lead the points in the PC driver championship with three rounds left on the 2016 calendar. The next event will take place in Wisconsin at the legendary Road America road course August 5-7. For more information, visit imsa.com.
We’ve had three wins in the last four races, and feel like we are working extremely well as a team. We had three entries out there, but we all operated as one team. Our team executed flawlessly. We had a good race strategy and unbelievable pitstops by our crew. It was a massive effort to ready the third car for this race, I am equally pleased with how well the team did preparing the car for the event this weekend as I am for win. I could not be more proud of each and every member on the team for how they worked this weekend.
Renger van der Zande
It was a hell of a race, especially with the traffic. It’s such a small track where every few laps, you’re fighting through traffic again and again, and that makes it a lot of fun. I think the fight for P1 and P2 with Tom was great. He was catching me, and I would drive away. One lap, the gap would be ten seconds, then it’d be zero. Alex did a great job, the team did a very good pit stop. I pedaled all the way to the finish, and I think we did a very great job. We were the quickest on track, too. I’m very happy here.
This is the sweetest thing. We are the winners of Lime Rock! We fought really hard. It was a hard race until the last lap. We didn’t know how it would turn out until the last corner. It was really hard. Traffic was crazy, and we kept the car in almost one piece. I was hit from behind on the first start, but besides that, the car was clean everywhere. The team did a great job because we kept our position on track, and the final pit stop put us up front. That was everything.