Renger van der Zande saw his top two rivals come together with only 11 minutes remaining, opening the door for an unlikely victory for the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and IndyCar title contender Scott Dixon followed up their Rolex 24 At Daytona victory, opening an eight-point lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship DPi point standings.
“I saw the gap getting closer and closer,” van der Zande admitted. “We gambled with the setup. It wasn’t good at the start, but it got better later in the race.”
“This was massive,” Briscoe said. “What a finish! It shows you never give up, and fortune went our way.”
— IMSA (@IMSA) October 18, 2020
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R was involved in a torrid battle with the No. 7 Team Penske Acura ARX-05 for the final two and a half hours of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race.
Pipo Derani dove to the inside of Ricky Taylor with 33 minutes remaining, and then held off several challenges by the Acura driver. Taylor dove to the inside entering Turn 6 with 11 minutes left, with the two cars making side-by-side contact and spinning. Derani went into a barrier and was stuck in a gravel trap, while a charging van der Zande passed Taylor for the lead.
“I was in the lead, and he pushed me out on a desperate move,” Derani said.
The race was restarted with 5m21s remaining, but went back to yellow one minute later when the No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Laurens Vanthoor and the No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 of Townsend Bell went off. The event ended under caution.
The No. 10 Cadillac encountered electrical problems early in the race, managing to change the battery while remaining on the lead lap.
Ricky Taylor finished second in the No. 7 Acura co-driven by Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi, with Dane Cameron taking third in the No. 6 Acura co-driven by Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud that dominated the first half of the event. Cameron was involved with an LMP2 car at the midway point that necessitated a pit stop to change the nose, with the car never quite as dominant for the remainder of the race.
After watching the two Team Penske Acuras dominate the opening three-quarters of the 10-hour race, the Action Express Cadillac of Derani, Felipe Nasr and Filipe Albuquerque went to the front. Nasr passed Rossi going into Turn 3 for the overall lead with 2:24 remaining. Rossi returned the favor with 1h51m remaining in Turn 10. Six minutes later, Nasr passed Rossi, but the IndyCar veteran returned the favor on a crossover move.
The two drivers pitted with 1h15m remaining, with Derani and Taylor picking up the fight all the way to the final incident.