ELKHART LAKE, WI (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook powered to victory in the IMSA Road Race Showcase Sunday at Road America. The win marked the third straight year a Ganassi entry captured the checkered flag and the second straight in the event for Briscoe and Westbrook.
“We always come here with a lot of confidence and know that we’re going to have a good shot a winning,” said Briscoe about the 4.048-mile permanent road course. “It’s just a track that really suits the Ford GT. The long, fast corners and obviously now, it was more about the consistency than outright speed.”
The No. 67 Ford GT victory led a 1-2 finish for the Ganassi GT’s as Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand finished second in the No. 66 GT. Mueller and Hand won in 2017.
“I think we’ve always run strong here and I think we were unlucky not to win the first year (2016) too,” said Briscoe. “To get a 1-2 was just fantastic.”
Briscoe started second in class (GTLM) and passed class pole sitter Oliver Gavin and the No. 4 Corvette Racing C7.R on lap 19, about 40-minutes into the 2-hour, 40-minute race. Westbrook took over six laps later during a pit stop and then double-stinted to the checkered flag in the caution free race.
“I think the yellow-free race played to our strength of long runs,” said Briscoe. “It was a pretty straightforward strategy of two stops. We knew our advantage was going to be on old tires and that showed today.”
“The key was being good on the tires,” said Westbrook. “Really, those last 10 laps on the stint were the most important 10 laps, not the first 10 laps. If you fell off the cliff (in tire performance) like the Corvette’s definitely did 20-laps into the stint, then you were toast.”
The win was also the 2nd straight for Briscoe and Westbrook, who won two weeks ago at Lime Rock Park.
“Polar opposite of Lime Rock when we won on a three-stopper,” said Westbrook comparing the strategies in the victories. “Today we made the two-stopped work. Just feels awesome.”
Three races remain in the WeatherTech Championship season with Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor atop the Championship standings with 248-points. Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy are second with 234-points. Briscoe and Westbrook are third with 230-points.
JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac Wins 12-Hours of Sebring
SEBRING, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Sebastien Bourdais, driving without the top element of the rear wing of the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac, took home the overall win in IMSA’s 12-Hours of Sebring for JDC-Miller Motorsports and co-drivers Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval.
Bourdais crossed the finish line 1.45-seconds ahead of Harry Tincknell and the No. 55 Mazda. Bourdais said he lost the element with just under 19-minutes left in the event and was fortunate he didn’t lose control of the car.
“I’m just really lucky that I didn’t stuff it in Turn 17 before I made the adjustments,” Bourdais said. “That was a very, very close call there. At the same time, thankfully I had enough of a gap to (Tincknell) that he didn’t pass us by the time I collected myself. I didn’t know it was the rear wing until I got out of the car (in victory lane), but I knew something had happened aerodynamically.”
The No. 48 Cadillac co-driven by Jimmie Johnson, Kamui Kobayashi and Simon Pagenaud finished third followed by the Acura Dpi’s of Meyer Shank Racing (Dane Cameron, Olivier Pla, Juan Pablo Montoya) and Wayne Taylor Racing (Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque, Alexander Rossi).
The No. 01 Chip Ganassi Racing Cadillac finished 2-laps down in sixth. The CGR Caddy was one of the dominant cars in the event but got clipped by the BMW of Connor De Phillippi with 71-minutes left in the race.
“It was very frustrating,” said Scott Dixon, who was behind the wheel of the Ganassi machine at the time. “It was a very late call from the pits, so I was scrambling to get everything undone. On my way into pit road there was another car there and I had nowhere to go. I feel bad for the team, because everybody at Chip Ganassi Racing did a fantastic job.”
The Ganassi team’s misfortune opened the door for Bourdais, who just put his head down and somehow kept Ticknell behind him.
“Every corner that was coming, I was like, ‘Man, how am I going to do this one?’” Bourdais said. “The flip side of (the broken wing) is that the car was extremely fast down the straightaway, too. I was very hard to pass there.”
The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season resumes May 14-16 with the Acura Sports Car Challenge at Mid-Ohio.
Heartbreak for Chip Ganassi Racing in Rolex 24 at Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Chip Ganassi Racing’s return to IMSA sports car racing was going along as planned in this weekend’s Rolex 24 at Daytona endurance race.
The No. 01 Cadillac Daytona Prototype International (DPi), driven by Renger Van der Zande, Kevin Magnussen and Scott Dixon, started seventh but quickly made their presence known leading 225 of the races 807-laps.
A battle to the end was shaping up between CGR and Wayne Taylor Racing in the race’s final half hour. CGR brought Van der Zande in for his final pit stop and WTR brought their new Acura ARX-05 to pit road and changed just left side tires and was able to get out ahead of the No. 01 by about 5-seconds.
Van der Zande, who used to drive for WTR, put the hammer down and chased down Filipe Albuquerque in an epic duel between the two drivers.
— IMSA (@IMSA) January 31, 2021
Disaster struck a few minutes later for the Ganassi team when Van der Zande had to come to pit road because of a cut right rear tire.
It is OVER for Renger Van Der Zande and Chip Ganassi Racing.
— Motorsports on NBC (@MotorsportsNBC) January 31, 2021
The Ganassi team quickly changed the tire but the battle was over at that point as WTR raced to the victory and CGR settled for a fifth place finish.
Team owner Chip Ganassi was proud of his team, especially since the program came together late in 2020.
Im so proud of our team performance this past weekend. Saturday was the 7th day we ran our new @cadillac DPi car. Not even a Covid scare could stop @CGRTeams. Fighting for the lead with 7minutes to go after 23h53m. I'm really proud of all of our men and women on this team.
— Chip Ganassi (@GanassiChip) February 1, 2021
Magnussen knew the team had a car capable of winning, which is something the second generation driver didn’t have a chance to do the past few years in Formula One.
If we hadn’t had a puncture with 5 laps to go, I think we would have had a really good chance of winning the race. Motorsport is tough sometimes. Thanks @CGRTeams for an awesome race car. Great job by my teammates @Rengervdz & @scottdixon9. 12h of Sebring next! pic.twitter.com/wHFDY2cOJG
— Kevin Magnussen (@KevinMagnussen) February 1, 2021
The Ganassi team did serve notice that they will be a force to be reckoned with in the IMSA WeatherTech Sports Car Championship.
Wayne Taylor Racing Wins Rolex 24 At Daytona
DAYTONA BEACH, FL (Pittsburgh Racing Now) – Wayne Taylor Racing (WTR) is the 2021 winner of the Rolex 24-Hours At Daytona endurance race.
WTR’s Konica Minolta Acura ARX-05 crossed the finish line 4.704-seconds ahead of the Ally Cadillac of Action Express Racing to capture the Daytona Prototype International (DPi) class victory as well as the overall victory.
The victory was the third straight for team owner Wayne Taylor, who switched manufacturers from Cadillac to Acura in the off-season, and WTR’s fifth overall.
Filipe Albuquerque drove the final stint of the race and survived a late race battle with Chip Ganassi Racing’s (CGR) Renger Van der Zande, who was forced to pit road after cutting a tire with just over 7-minutes remaining in the twice around-the-clock race.
“He was fast,” said Albuquerque of Van der Zande. “He was faster than me, obviously. But I thought there must be tire trouble. Physics tells you that. When you push too hard, something happens. When you go off track as well, something goes bad. I was not expecting that to happen. When he blew, we were lucky. But there is nobody who has ever won Daytona or any championship without luck.”
WTR’s victory tied CGR’s record of three straight overall wins in the event. The Ganassi team went back-to-back-to-back from 2006-2008.
Co-drivers Helio Castroneves, Alexander Rossi and Ricky Taylor (son of team owner Wayne) exalted in winning the Rolex watch, which is awarded to all of the class winner.
“So much went into this,” said Ricky Taylor, who scored the second overall Rolex victory of his career. “It was definitely a test of trust and a testament to preparation and sticking to a plan. We skipped all of the offseason testing because the guys needed time to do everything properly. They know how to win this race. I feel like we were all lucky to be a part of it.”
The next race for WeatherTech IMSA Sports Car Series is the 12-Hours of Sebring, March 17-20 at Sebring International Raceway.