Reversing The Order, Whelen Engineering Corvette Conolidates Action Express Racing's Back-to-Back 1-2 Wins
Eric Curran and Dane Cameron (No. 31 Action Express Racing Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP) captured their first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season Sunday in the Mobil 1 SportsCar Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, leading Action Express Racing to its second consecutive 1-2 finish. The pair led 66 of the 125 laps in the two-hour and 40-minute race, including the final 36 circuits. Joao Barbosa (No. 5 Action Express Racing Mustang Sampling Corvette DP, started by Christian Fittipaldi) passed Jordan Taylor (No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP, started by Ricky Taylor) for second place in traffic with five minutes remaining. Three minutes later, the third caution period of the race froze the field with Cameron leading his teammate by 17.067 seconds. Curran and Cameron trimmed the points lead of Fittipaldi and Barbosa to four, 220-116, with three races remaining for the Prototype class. The Taylor brothers finished third and are third in the standings with 211 points.
Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe (No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) delivered their third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans class victory at the track formerly known as Mosport. A strategic call by the Chip Ganassi Racing team sealed the deal for the duo. After running most of the first half of the race in third or fourth place, the team put fresh Michelin tires on for the final time when they pitted under full-course caution an hour and 20 minutes into the two-hour and 40-minute race. The No. 67 Ford GT was sixth in class following that stop, but as the cars running ahead of them made their final pit stops for fuel and tires under green-flag conditions, Briscoe gradually worked his way to the class lead. Then, with approximately 50 minutes remaining in the race, the Ganassi team brought Briscoe on to pit road for a seven-second splash of fuel only and sent him back on course without losing the lead. That was the difference, as Briscoe maintained a 5-6-second gap to Tommy Milner (No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, started by Oliver Gavin) for the remaining distance and the win. “We were in tire and fuel conservation mode as soon as we left the pits, but needed some help,” Briscoe said. “When everyone else pitted we knew we had the opportunity to take a splash of fuel but not change tires. It was a brilliant call by the team. Tommy was a bit quicker, but I was just trying to hang on and bring it home.” Westbrook and Briscoe now trail Milner and Gavin in the GTLM class standings by five points, 192-187. Gavin and Milner finished second, while their teammates Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen (No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R) finished third. Garcia started the race from the pole and led throughout his 42-minute opening stint, while Magnussen also led for more than 50 minutes.
Jens Klingmann (No. 96 Turner Motorsport Spectra Resources/United Steel/Valspar Paint/IHG Rewards Club BMW M6 GT3) went from third place to first in the GT Daytona (GTD) class with a brilliant pass in Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s famed Moss Corner with 30 minutes remaining to give the BMW M6 GT3 its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory. Klingmann got around both Jeroen Bleekemolen (No. 33 ViperExchange.com/Cruising with the Monkey Dodge Viper GT3-R), who was running second in class, and Fabio Babini (No. 27 Dream Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3), who was leading. He then pulled away from the rest of the GTD field over the closing laps to score the victory for himself and co-driver Bret Curtis, who started the race from fourth on the class grid. After Klingmann made the pass, Bleekemolen and Babini made contact, which brought the Viper on to pit road with front-end damage. Babini, who led for more than 20 minutes, made his final pit stop shortly thereafter, enabling the No. 6 Stevenson Auto Group Audi R8 LMS GT3 co-driven by Robin Liddell and Andrew Davis to move into second and the No. 48 Castrol Edge/Universal Industrial Sales Lamborghini Huracán GT3 of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow into third, where both would finish.
After Colin Braun captured his second TOTAL Pole Award of the year in Prototype Challenge, qualifying in the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources/Crowdstrike ORECA FLM09, the team elected to swap starting drivers for the race. As a result, Jon Bennett started the machine from sixth position at the back of the PC grid and the duo went on to the class victory, their second of the season. “We had a great strategy planned from our race engineers,” Braun said. “They came up with a unique strategy that didn’t play out until the last 20-30 minutes of the race. In order for it to work, you had to have the pace the entire day. Hats off to everyone, everyone did their jobs and when that happens nine times out of 10 that turns out to be a win.” Renger van der Zande/Alex Popov (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09) finished second, followed by Robert Alon and Tom Kimber-Smith (No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Professional Security Systems ORECA FLM09).
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will travel to Lime Rock Park in Connecticut for the Northeast Grand Prix, July 22-23.