Endurance Cup, WeatherTech manufacturer champs crowned

Image by Richard Dole/LAT

Endurance Cup, WeatherTech manufacturer champs crowned

IMSA

Endurance Cup, WeatherTech manufacturer champs crowned

Five IMSA championships already have been clinched from the first four hours of the Motul Petit Le Mans, the 2018 season finale for both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.

The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi and co-drivers Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr secured Action Express Racing’s fifth consecutive Patrón Endurance Cup when Nasr was scored as the race leader at the four-hour mark in the race. The lead brought five points toward the Patrón Endurance Cup, running the No. 31 team’s total to 36 points.

The fewest amount of points they could score combined in the remaining two segments is four, while the most the second-place No. 7 Acura Team Penske DPi co-drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor could add to their current, 28-point total is 10 points. That gives the team title to the No. 31 AXR entry and the driver title for Curran and Nasr.

“It was great,” Nasr said. “It was good help from Eric when he was in the car. He got the car up front and we were already thinking about the four-hour mark. They got me a little bit early in the car as planned, but I think at the right spot.”

Action Express won the previous four Patrón Endurance Cup team and driver titles from 2014 to 2017 with its No. 5 Mustang Sampling entry and co-drivers Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.

Three manufacturer championships also were decided. By starting the race, both Cadillac and Ford clinched the Prototype and GT Le Mans manufacturer championships, respectively. Ford also wrapped up the Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer championship in the GTLM class.

Cadillac leads the Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer standings as well with two more scoring intervals to come, holding a three-point advantage over Acura.

There’s still plenty for the No. 31 team to play for, however, with the WeatherTech Championship still on the line. Their competition for the Prototype title, the No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA LMP2 machine co-driven by Jon Bennett, Colin Braun and Romain Dumas, was running fifth at the four-hour mark. The No. 31 will  clinch the title with a second-place run or better in the race.

The Patrón Endurance Cup in GTLM will go to Ford Chip Ganassi Racing, but which team takes it is still up for grabs. The No. 66 Ford GT trio of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais were leading at four hours to earn the maximum points, and now leads the No. 67 Ford GT shared by Richard Westbrook, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon by six points, 38-32.

The No. 66 will clinch the Patrón Endurance Cup if it is running third or better at the eight-hour mark, or if the No. 67 is not the leader at eight hours. In terms of the overall WeatherTech Championship in GTLM, the No. 3 Corvette of Jan Magnussen, Antonio Garcia and Marcel Fassler was in the catbird seat running in third place at the four-hour mark. It needs to finish fourth or better to clinch the title.

Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3. (Image by Jake Galstad/LAT)

Everything in the GT Daytona class is still up in the air after four hours. The No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz was the four-hour leader to extend its class lead in the Patrón Endurance Cup standings to five points, 36-31, ahead of the No. 86 Acura NSX of Katherine Legge, Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman.

Legge and the No. 86 team also continue to trail in the overall WeatherTech Championship GTD title chase. They were running eighth in class at four hours, while the points-leading No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini of Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis was running third.

Mercedes-AMG leads the Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer standings by four, 37-33, ahead of a two-way tie between Lamborghini and Acura.

Live Motul Petit Le Mans coverage continues on FS2 through the checkered flag at 9:05 p.m. ET.

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