Ahead of the penultimate race at Road Atlanta, the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class and the GT Daytona (GTD) class had their own battles this weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
In one of the rarer times on the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar schedule, the GTLM and GTD category battled it out on the track with the exception of the DPi as DPi classes who will return for the final race of the season at Road Atlanta.
Corvette Racing has swept most of the races on the schedule this season with the No. 79 Porsche settling in the third and final position. When the teams rolled in on Friday, Corvette Racing was looking to do the same thing they had been doing all weekend, win. However, they had to fight for that win.
On Friday afternoon in qualifying, the No. 4 of Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy paced the field with laps of 1:40.263 seconds and 117.140 mph.
When the race began, Corvette was dominant, leading nearly every lap of the race albeit with the No. 3 of Jordan Taylor leading the way and Milner/Tandy trailing behind in second. At the 2 hours and 17-minute mark, Tandy took the lead from the No. 79 Porsche of Kevin Estre.
The battle continued between the two manufacturers, as the Porsche and Corvette had a shoving match. Tandy and Estre shoved each other off the track multiple times trading paint, while Estre, unfortunately, received the worst of the melee and wound up driving in the grass as a result.
Even though there was multiple contact between the two teams, no action was taken by IMSA officials.
From there, Tandy/Milner continued to show the way and take home their third straight victory of the year.
“Today is all about that guy right there,” Milner said. “He (Nick Tandy) made it happen today for sure. Porsche definitely had pace on us for sure, but when you have got a guy like that who can race like he does, he got a little bit, but he gave it right back. What an awesome race. That was a lot of fun to watch. I’m super happy for all of our Corvette Racing guys. We got a little lucky there with the No. 3 car. I think it was going to be close at the end. What a race! That was awesome.
“Look at this winning car,” Tandy, the overall race winner said. “First of all, congratulations to Corvette Racing, one-two again. It was an awesome race. It shows a way to win a race when you don’t have the fastest car. Honestly, the Porsche should have won the race. But honestly, when you kind of lose your brain and start driving stupid, stuff happens. Luckily with our Corvettes, we kept them on the track and didn’t do too much damage to them, so here we are talking to you.”
Official GTLM results:
- Nick Tandy
- Antonio Garcia -17.852 seconds
- Kevin Estre -38.665 seconds
The GTD class was action-filled, including an on-track incident between the No. 96 of Bill Auberlen and the No. 3 of Garcia.
At the 2 hour and 30-minute mark, Auberlen was leading the race but was clipped on the inside by the No. 3 of Garcia and lost the lead. Following the incident, he had major right side damage to his machine and eventually finished 12th in the GTD running order, 1 lap down.
It was the Porsche 911 GT3R driver Laurens Vanthoor who took the lead and went on to win the GTD category, his fourth victory of the year.
“This win is the happiest I’ve got so far because yesterday was just our mistake, a stupid mistake,” Vanthoor said. “Today, when any mistake happened, they made up for it like triple the time because the pit stop is what got us out in front, which is amazing what they did.
“Zach Robichon (Vanthoor’s teammate), how quickly he got by at the start and up to the front. Those things helped give us the race. In all honesty, when I was in front of the BMW, I wasn’t very optimistic I was going to stay there because he was very quick. I pushed hard and pushed like it was qualifying laps. Managed to stay out in front at the end.”
Official GTD results:
- Laurens Vanthoor
- Bryan Sellers
- Jack Hawksworth
- Patrick Long
- Ross Gunn
- Alex Riberas
- Jeff Westphal
- Daniel Morad
- Franck Perra
- Katherine Legge
- Mike Skeen, 1 lap down
- Bill Auberlen, 1 lap down
- Zach Veach, 2 laps down
- Andy Lally, 13 laps down
- Mario Farnbacher, OUT, Accident
Up Next: The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Series will take a month off before returning for the final event of the season at the 10 hours of Road Atlanta.