LAKEVILLE, CT (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Richard Westbrook passed Earl Bamber with a tick over 6-and-a-half minutes remaining to win IMSA’s Northeast Grand Prix Saturday afternoon at Lime Rock Park.
The victory was the first IMSA WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) victory of the season for Westbrook, co-driver Ryan Briscoe and the No. 67 Ford GT of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing team.
“I had to pick my moment,” Westbrook said. “I just had to be patient with the 912 and when the opportunity came, it was a matter of taking it. There was a lot of marbles off-line. I got it just right.”
The Ganassi team utilized a three-stop strategy whereas Bamber and his Porsche GT team opted for a two-stop strategy and for a large portion of the race it looked like it would pay off. The Porsche GT teams combined to lead 140 of the race’s 182 laps around the 1.474-mile circuit.
“We didn’t think we’d have the pace, so we went into the race with the goal of doing a three-stop strategy,” said Briscoe. “We knew the tire life on two stops was going to be really difficult for everyone, so we just committed to it and knew we had to put the lap time in on fresh tires when everyone else was falling off and it worked out.”
Bamber and co-driver Laurens Vanthoor wound up second for their fifth podium result in seven races on the season.
The No. 66 Ford GT made it a double-podium for the Ganassi team as co-drivers Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller, the defending race winners, finished third.
“It was just an amazing race to be part of, fighting with two Porsches and my teammate, it was really close out there,” said Westbrook.
Bamber and Vanthoor’s second place finish extended their Championship lead in the GTLM standings to 8-points, 218-210, over their No. 911 Porsche teammates Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet, who finished fourth.
The next race for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America on Sunday, August 4th.
Porsche Penske Motorsport grabs IMSA GTP win at Long Beach
LONG BEACH, CA (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Porsche Penske Motorsport picked up their inaugural IMSA Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) win taking Saturday’s Acura Grand Prix of Long Beach.
Penske’s team elected to not take tires on their one and only pit stop of the day and the time savings on pit road proved to be the difference.
Nick Tandy kept the No. 6 Porsche 963 within striking distance of leader and pole winner Filipe Albuquerque and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura, who elected to take on new tires during their pit stop. The Penske drivers figured it was their best shot at the win.
“We kind of knew from practice and qualifying that our pace was probably not going to win us a race,” said Tandy. “We wanted to try something different, and one of our options was to try and negate the tire warm-up issue that many teams have had in GTP this year, so we went with no tires. What we didn’t know was how the tire was going to end up over the last 40 minutes because nobody had run the tire that long.”
Co-driver Mathieu Jaminet, who took over for Tandy, took to the lead but ran into lap traffic late in the race to set-up a 2-lap dual with the No. 10, who had Jordan Taylor now behind the wheel.
The Acura drafted the Porsche down Shoreline Drive and drew even under braking into Turn 1, but Taylor misjudged the maneuver and skidded wide into a tire barrier allowing third-place runner Connor de Phillippi in the No. 25 BMW M Team RLL BMW M Hybrid V8 to squeeze past.
The caution flag came out ending the racing with Jaminet and Tandy celebrating a monumental first win for the Porsche 963. De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly celebrating second place in the No. 25 BMW.
“(Taylor) had fresher tires and after I got caught in traffic with two laps to go, it made sense that he went for it,” said Jaminet. “I braked really late, and I saw him going past. I thought, ‘If he can make it stop, I’ll be impressed.’ I saw him lock up and he went straight in the fence.
“I knew it was going to be very close,” he added. “I just tried to make no mistakes with the traffic. As a team, you need to figure out the opportunities and take what’s there when it’s in front of you. Today was a real team effort, in the pits and with car No. 7. Everybody can be proud today.”
The next round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Motul Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N, May 12-14 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
Heartbreak for Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing at 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Things were looking promising for Cadillac Chip Ganassi Racing through the first eight hours of the 71st running of the 12-Hours of Sebring endurance race but disaster struck in hour nine.
Sebastien Bourdais was leading the field when things started going wrong on the No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R forcing the car to pit road. Smoke and flames could be seen coming out from underneath the bodywork as the car came down pit road.
“The No. 01 Cadillac V-Series.R experienced a fuel distribution system issue,” Cadillac Racing said in a statement. “It is the first time we have seen it in testing — including a successful 24-hour test at Sebring International Raceway in November and two days of testing at the track in February — and race conditions. Cadillac Racing will figure out the root cause and prepare for the next race.”
“The team has worked hard to prepare for this race,” said Mike O’Gara, CGR Director of Operations. “We proved we have a fast race car and great pit stops. Some things happen that are out of your control, but that’s racing. I’m proud of the effort from the entire team, and I know we’ll keep at it and continue chasing this championship.”
The No. 01 Caddy started from the front row and led 120-laps in the race before the retirement with Bourdais grabbing the lead after just over an hour.
“It’s obviously pretty disappointing for everybody,” said Bourdais, a two-time 12-Hour winner. “The car was quick. Cadillac seems to have something that works pretty well at Sebring, so that’s really encouraging. I think we made some great progress from Daytona in performance, so that’s also encouraging for the rest of the season after finishing on the podium. It’s great to see the program heading in the right direction and everyone at Chip Ganassi Racing and Cadillac are working very hard to make progress.”
6-time NTT INDYCAR SERIES Champion Scott Dixon added to the lead following the first driver change, building a 47-second lead before turning over the driving duties to Renger van der Zande following the fourth pit-stop, 4-hours and 7-minutes into the race.
“It was quite the race,” said Dixon. “The car was really fast and I felt like everybody on the team did a tremendous job. We had some ups and downs, but ultimately, we were top-three most of the race and led a good majority of it. Just bummed that it ended the way it did, and we didn’t win the race. It’s one that’s eluded me, and it would have been great to take this one. But, we had great speed, great teamwork and everybody did a hell of a job.”
van der Zande was just as quick, setting the fastest lap of the race (1:48.311) on lap 165.
“Sebring is a special one, and it’s a shame that it didn’t fall in our direction,” said van der Zande. “We had a strong Cadillac car here and while we’ve been testing all over, we’re still trying to improve things across the board. We’re still learning. We go deep to try to optimize performance. It’s just an unfortunate end to the race after showing so much speed.”
The No. 01 Cadillac crew will compete in their next IMSA race on April 15 in Long Beach, California.
Chip Ganassi Racing returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans
DETROIT, MI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing is returning to the 24 Hours of Le Mans this June with the newly named Cadillac V-Series.Rs where they will compete for the overall win in the Hypercar class.
Ganassi will field two Caddy’s in the twice around-the-clock endurance event. The No. 2 Cadillac V-Series.R received an automatic entry based on its full-season participation in the FIA World Endurance Championship. Earl Bamber, Alex Lynn and Richard Westbrook are the drivers.
The No. 3 Cadillac V-Series.R is a full-season IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship entrant in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class, where it races as the No. 01. Sébastien Bourdais, Renger van der Zande and Scott Dixon will be the drivers.
“We are all looking forward to Cadillac returning to Le Mans and challenging for the overall victory. It has been decades since an American manufacturer has achieved this and we will be strongly pushing to achieve our goal,” said Bamber, the overall winner of the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2015 and 2017.
“We are thrilled to return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans with the full Cadillac Racing team,” said Rory Harvey, Global Vice President of Cadillac. “Over the last 20 years Cadillac Racing has built a legacy of winning on the track and we feel very privileged to return to Le Mans during this exciting new electrified era in racing.”
“Cadillac is excited to build on its racing legacy by competing against the very best internationally and at one of the world’s toughest races,” said GM sports car racing program manager Laura Wontrop Klauser. “We’re proud to be representing the United States and the Cadillac V-Series.R is a great continuation of our racing heritage.”
Chip Ganassi Racing last competed in the 24-hours of Le Mans in 2018-2019 when they campaigned Ford GT’s in the LMGTE Pro Class. CGR took home the class win in 2016 with Bourdais, Joey Hand and Dirk Muller taking the checkered flag 50-years after Ford’s first overall 24 Hours of Le Mans victory.