Sunday’s Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio was an exercise of Penske Perfection for Acura in Prototype, Porsche domination in GT Le Mans, and a big coming out party for Lexus in GT Daytona.
The Captain’s Acura ARX-05 DPi program swept the weekend in Acura’s Ohio backyard with a staggering 1-2 finish in all three practices, qualifying, and the 2h40m race as a hard scrap between the ARX-05 entries fell in favor of polesitters Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the No. 7 Acura.
Lead changes with the sister No. 6 driven by Dane Cameron and Juan Montoya, and passes made on the Acuras by the sprightly Mazda RT24-Ps kept the race interesting throughout the afternoon race held under soft blue skies.
The chances of an Acura 1-2 and a Mazda 3-4 were lost with an hour remaining when Spencer Pigot took the No. 55 RT24-P for a trip across the track at the Carousel and picked up damage that forced the car into the paddock. It left the Acura-Acura-Mazda train to run uninterrupted as the race went caution-free from start to finish.
At the line, Taylor held an easy 8.4s gap over Montoya and a comfortable 26.7s over Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda he shared with Oliver Jarvis who ran as high as second as the two Japanese brands took control of the podium.
“This is an incredible team effort,” said an overjoyed Castroneves. “I’m just so proud to be part of this organization. Man, what a great battle. Great job, Team Penske.”
The top WEC P2 finisher on the day was PR1/Mathiasen/AFS Racing’s No. 52 Ligier JS P217-Gibson driven by Sebastian Saavedra and Gustavo Yacaman. The all-Colombian line-up took sixth, albeit 1m13.9s behind at the checkered flag. In another Prototype note of interest, Mid-Ohio marked the first event since the DPi formula launched at Daytona in 2017 where a Cadillac failed to finish on the podium.