Mazda Team Joest took its third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in thrilling fashion, winning Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase in a last-lap battle with Acura Team Penske.
Harry Tincknell fended off a determined Dane Cameron by 0.227s to win in the No. 55 Mazda RT-24P started by Jonathan Bomarito, after blocking — and bumping — the No. 6 Acura ARX-05 in Turn 5 on the final tour of the 4.048-mile circuit.
After running the table in practice and qualifying, Acura Team Penske carried that domination through the first hour of Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase. However, that all changed early in the second hour when Harry Tincknell passed a very defensive-minded Juan Pablo Montoya on the outside of Turn 1 on Lap 38. From that point, Tincknell led 41 of the next 45 circuits — including the final 31.
However, Cameron was not to be denied, closing to the rear wing of the Mazda in the run to the white flag. He made several moves to pass on the final circuit, but could not find a way around Tincknell.
“I have nothing left,” Tincknell admitted. “I just pushed as hard as I could the whole way. It wasn’t easy to get by Juan Pablo. Then, at the end, I was just hanging on for dear life. The traffic went against me a little bit, so I was hoping at the end it would be with me – and it did.”
Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez made it a double-podium finish for Mazda in the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park-winning No. 77, placing 3.114s back. It was the second triumph of the season for Tincknell and Bomarito, who gave Mazda its first IMSA Prototype victory at Watkins Glen International on June 30.
Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani proved to be the “best of the rest,” placing fourth in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R. The second-place finish allowed Cameron and Montoya to add two points to their lead, with Nasr and Derani now unofficially seven points back (239-232) with only two DPi rounds remaining.
The No. 7 Acura started second by Helio Castroneves led for 15 laps following the opening round of pit stops. Ricky Taylor took over and was running second when he ran over debris that resulted from an altercation between two GTD competitors. Taylor had to pit and fell back in the running order, eventually finishing seventh.
The two-hour, 40-minute race ran under the green flag from start to finish.
GTLM: Ganassi Fords continue Elkhart Lake domination
Ford Chip Ganassi made it three consecutive victories at Road America, with Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe winning in the No. 67 Ford GT. It was their second straight triumph of 2019, backing up their recent triumph at Lime Rock Park.
“Today was the polar opposite of Lime Rock,” Westbrook said. “We won there on a three-stopper, and today we made the two-stopper work. In the end, it was quite comfortable: watch the fuel, watch the tires. Just a great run.”
Joey Hand finished second in the No. 66 Ford GT started by Dirk Muller, 10.657s back, followed by the No. 912 Porsche GT Team 911 RSR of Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor. The No. 912 Porsche now holds a 14-point lead with three rounds remaining.
Tommy Milner made his return to action an impressive one with a fourth-place finish in the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R started by Oliver Gavin. Milner had sat out two races after being injured at the start of the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. The Corvette was running second with five minutes remaining, but needed a late splash of fuel to make it to the checkered flag.
GTD: Two in a row for Pfaff Porsche, Robichon
Pfaff Motorsports took its second consecutive GTD victory. Matt Campbell, making his first IMSA appearance in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R started by Zach Robichon, took the lead on its final pit stop from Bryan Sellers, in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Sellers had been holding off Campbell for lap after lap in spirited competition prior to the pit stops; the roles were reserved for the remainder of the race before Campbell took the checkered flag with a one-lap advantage.
“I’ve been quite lucky this year,” Campbell said. Every track I’ve been to in America this year has been a first. To come here for my first time and obviously hearing a little bit about it, it’s such a cool experience to get my first place on this circuit. To win with a debut like this is just the cherry on top. To be able to top if off like this is a fantastic result and I’m just over the moon.”
Bill Auberlen passed Jack Hawksworth in the closing laps to complete the podium in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 started by Robby Foley. Hawksworth and Richard Heistand finished fourth in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3.
Pole winner Ben Keating pulled away in the early going, leading the opening 13 laps before a sudden mechanical failure forced the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Wynns Mercedes-AMG GT3 to the pits. The team lost five laps for repairs, although Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen returned to finish 14th in the 15-car class.
Another GTD highlight was a pair of on-track encounters between Katherine Legge in the No. 57 Acura and Patrick Long in the No. 73 Porsche one hour into the race while battling for eighth. Both cars were damaged in the exchanges, and both drivers were summoned to the pits for stop-and-go penalties for avoidable contact.
McMurry, Kelly prevail in LMP2
Despite only two cars in the class, both PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports and Performance Tech Motorsports had a spirited scrap from start to finish. Jamie McMurry and Patrick Kelley won in the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA Gibson, 31.356s over the No. 38 entry of Cameron Cassels and Sheboygan, Wisconsin driver James French.
“Pat made a huge comeback, coming from not running for nine years and jumping right back in and holding the gap to Cassels,” McMurry said. “He did exactly what he needed to do, holding the gap to him. I got back in and did what I needed to do by holding another gap back.”
It was the fourth consecutive victory of the season for McMurry, who extended his lead to five points with two races remaining.
UP NEXT: The Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway will be held on Sunday, August 25, showcasing the GTLM and GTD classes.
All four classes will compete at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sept. 15, followed by the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Oct. 12.