- Oliver Jarvis, who had been leading the race and the DPi standings until then, crashed with 24 minutes to go.
- Filipe Albuquerque grabs the lead from the DPi with the help of a run-in car then keeps the lead until the finish.
- Ryan Dalziel was decisive for the LMP2 win in the no18 Era Motorsport ORECA.
- Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat take first GTD PRO victory together in the #14 Lexus.
It was a superb weekend for Filipe Albuquerque, who kept the pressure on the other DPi teams, already under pressure in the championship chase.
“What a crazy ride,” Albuquerque said. “We started first and led the first stint and then the drizzle came. Ricky had a really tough time with a smooth track and new cold slick tyres. He did a hell of a job maintaining the car on the track. We were almost last and almost got overtaken by the guys who bet on the rain tires, which was the right choice. By then our championship was completely over, but the beauty of IMSA and endurance racing is exactly that: it can mix in unpredictable ways.”
In qualifying, which earns five points, Albuquerque “called his shot” after a 133.799 mph lap in the Acura Wayne Taylor Racing. This call may have only been made on the radio for his team. But the other contenders received the message on their timing screens and did not complete the challenge.
“I said, ‘That has to be pole position because it was awesome,'” Albuquerque said. “Then I was silent. In the lap, I said, “I don’t know if it’s going to hold P1 or not, but it was a great car.” It was just a nice car.
Alex Lynn in the #02 Cadillac Ganassi overshot the track limits trying to match the Acura driver’s time. Sebastien Bourdais was on a flyer when he left the track completely at turn 14, the last corner before the timing tape, and hit the wall. This brought out a red flag ending the session and placing the #01 Cadillac behind the DPi prototypes on the grid.
In the race, co-driver Taylor backed off after deciding to stay on slicks during the first pitstop when the rain set in. Once the rains continued after an additional pit stop and Albuquerque returned, he spilled the beans again. Before the final pit stops put rival Acura first, Albuquerque passed Jarvis at Turn 1 in a three-way deal led by Earl Bamber in the No. 02 Ganassi Cadillac.
Not Meyer Shank’s Weekend
The Meyer Shank team, whose five consecutive second-place finishes had kept them top of the points, were lucky to limp to fourth and keep their title push intact despite Oliver Jarvis’ heavy contact with the new barrier to the right of the driver at the Kink.
“It’s a shame to lose the podium like this today,” said Jarvis. “We were on a little fuel economy and the car was pretty rough in the last stint. We were working through traffic and I think I just got into the marbles and went to the Kink. Luckily the car was pretty solid to get to the finish.
Meyer Shank started third on the grid. But the team were unhappy with their car and then seemed to bank on the weather before the race before pulling themselves together once the green fell. The front suspension setup had to be rearranged during the first pit stop after Tom Blomqvist sank in the DPis field.
“We have a weekend off,” Tom Blomqvist said after giving in to Jarvis. “I lacked performance compared to the opponent. It made life difficult. I was just trying to hang on.
But the team moved up the queue thanks to their decision to switch to wet tires at the same first stop, correctly anticipating the arrival of light rain. In the final round of pit stops, thanks to quick pitstops due to better mileage and less fuel consumption than Cadillacs, Jarvis came out on top. It looked like a possible miracle comeback, especially when Jarvis held his line and retained the lead at Turn 1 as Albuquerque made a bold move. “I passed him on Turn 1,” Albuquerque said, “but he knew what to do.”
At the last wind wins
Not exactly storybook, but close enough. The Winward Racing team lost the GTD winner’s trophy at Lime Rock when their Mercedes-AMG GT3’s fuel pump failed in the final two corners. This time, Russell Ward and Philip Ellis crossed the finish line with the team’s first win of the year.
There were many firsts for Vasser Sullivan and his Lexus RC F GT3. The team earned their first GTD Pro victory of the season. Jack Hawksworth earned his first victory at Road America and his first since returning from a motocross injury. “The team did a good job of getting me up to speed,” Hawksworth said. “I feel good.” After replacing Hawksworth in the first set of pit stops for fuel and rain tires, Ben Barnicoat took his first GTD Pro victory and his first at Road America.
Ryan Dalziel returned to the top step of the podium for his first win of the season in Era Motorsports’ LMP2 entry, with Dwight Merriman as co-driver. Dalziel, who has 13 career wins, is a veteran of the top classes of IMSA as well as IndyCar. He took the lead with a decisive move entering Canada Corner in the final minutes.
Malthe Jakobsen, 18, of Sean Creech Motorsports, had an unfortunate conclusion to an otherwise impressive weekend. He started on LMP3 pole after being coached by veteran Joao Barbosa, his team-mate. But he was picked up by another pilot’s spin and ended up in a gravel trap. Riley Motorsports drivers Gar Robinson and Felipe Fraga took victory in LMP3.
Road America Upgrades
An extensive two-year campaign to upgrade Road America may not have stopped the NASCAR Cup event from moving to the streets of Chicago. But if the FIA starts looking for a permanent circuit in the United States, as four-time champion Sebastian Vettel suggests, the track itself will be ready to meet the criteria.
While F1 remains a long plane, largely due to the lack of nearby hotel rooms or a major airport, when ‘The National Park of Speed’ is repaved in October, the width of the whole of the four miles will be 40 feet, which is the minimum for F1. Prior to this season, nearly 2,000 feet of continuous poured concrete barriers were added to the exterior of the carousel. New walls were also added inside the Kink on the backstretch, which Oliver Jarvis hit in the heaviest and most consequential crash of the race. The footbridge at the entrance to the Carrousel has been rebuilt and fitted out. Trees have been removed which also threaten the track.
Road America has been on the IMSA calendar since unifying under the IMSA banner in 2014, including the pandemic season. The Mid-Ohio sports car course has been removed from the 2023 schedule for the first time in six years due to the addition of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and, according to various reports, track maintenance and improvements lagged behind other facilities.
The length of the planned major endurance event at Indy won’t be decided until after next year’s four-hour endurance race for the WeatherTech Championship. Camping inside the Speedway will be a new option with possibly the race in the evening. Track and IMSA officials want to see how a shorter race will go next year before trying to add a fifth major endurance race to the schedule.
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