#10 WTR Cadillac lucks out to win the IMSA Petit Le Mans

Wayne Taylor Racing’s Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon claimed a down right lucky victory in the Motul Petit Le Mans 10-hour race after Pipo Derani’s #31 Action Express Racing Cadillac and Ricky Taylor’s #7 Penske Acura  collided battling for the lead in the closing stages.

Taylor made an attempt to pass Derani for the win but the pair made contact at the Turn 6 right-hander.

Taylor’s No. 7 Acura ARX-05 went spinning around, while Derani’s Cadillac DPi-V.R ran through the gravel and smacked the barriers.

This enabled van der Zande, who was approximately 10 seconds behind the front-running pair, to seize the lead for the WTR Cadillac and when the race finished under a full course caution after a heavy crash for the No. 912 GT Le Mans-class Porsche 911 RSR-19 at the Esses, the win was cemented.

The #7 Penske Acura and the #31 Cadillac battled for the win all race long before taking each other out in a late race crash. All photos by LAT for IMSA

Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon gave the Wayne Taylor led Konica Minolta Cadillac team their second win on the season, the first being the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in January.

“We had this before with the fuel saving,” Van Der Zande said. “We came back from being 26 seconds down all the way to within 12 seconds of the front two cars. They had the accident in Turn 6 and then we passed them for the win. It is about being persistent and working as a team to stay in it until the end.

“Earlier in the race I had two times where the car completely shut-off. We went to zero power. I had to reboot the car. We shut down the lights and the cooling fans for the drivers and all of the power steering that we could to save the battery. The Cadillac is such a good car, it was flying. It is such a special dude, if it’s a dude?”

Winners #10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R. Cadillac DPi, DPi: Renger Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, Scott Dixon

Taylor, Helio Castroneves and Alexander Rossi were classified second, but they had a win in their grasp and lost it.

“I have to thank everyone at Acura and Team Penske for the speed they brought this weekend to Petit Le Mans,” said Taylor. “We showed all weekend that we were going to be tough to beat and it played out that way in the race. I hate the way that it ended and in no way did I mean to take out the 31 car. It’s Petit Le Mans.

“Everyone wants to win this race and I saw an opportunity to do that for my team. To come home second is a solid points day but we were the car to beat at the end and I’m bummed that we didn’t end on top of the podium.”

Team Penske’s other trio of Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagenaud picked up a podium in their Acura while Sebastien Bourdais, Loic Duval and Tristan Vautier finished fourth for the JDC-Miller Motorsports/Mustang Sampling squad.

Derani and his co-drivers Felipe Nasr and Filipe Albuquerque were classified in fifth at the conclusion.

During the last couple of hours, the event looked set to be won by either the No. 31 Action Express Cadillac or the No. 7 Team Penske Acura.

These two cars engaged in a thrilling duel, with Penske’s car leading consistently from the halfway mark until the start of hour nine when Rossi overtook Nasr.

However, the positions flipped again during the following stint when Derani passed Taylor at Turn 7.

The leading cars pitted simultaneously with 38 minutes to go, while Taylor again took the lead from Derani whose slightly longer previous stint necessitated a longer fuel fill.

Derani then passed Taylor again for the lead before the pair made contact with just over 10 minutes to go.

“I told him I always had a lot of respect for him,” Derani said following his post-race discussion with Taylor. “I was in the lead. I was out in front and he pushed me out. That’s it. There’s not much to say. Unfortunately, we lost the race. We did everything we could with 10 laps to go. We were leading the race and he just pushed me out on a desperate move to try to go to the lead. It was a mistake on his side. I hope he sleeps on it and thinks a little bit because he thinks it’s my fault.

“I don’t know what I could have done differently. We’ll take the positives out of this race. We had a fantastic race. Acura was much quicker than us. But, we were there at the end leading the race. I put two fantastic passes on him after losing the lead on the pit stop again. We did everything we could [to win]. Everyone on the Whelen Engineering car did a fantastic job. I lost a little bit of respect for him [Taylor] and his teammates for trying to accuse me of doing something wrong. But, it is what it is. I’m not at the racetrack to make friends. I want to win the next one.”

“This was not the way we wanted to end the 10-hour race,” Nasr said. “But honestly, I felt we did everything right – the drivers, the team, the execution, the strategy. We kept a quicker car behind all the way to the end. Derani, Albuquerque, and I, we had a flawless race until the end – hitting our marks. It was just beautiful. It was one of those days we really enjoyed the racing out there.

“Unfortunately, at the end, it came down to a move that took us out of contention, and we had to settle for fifth. We’re disappointed. But, we’ll take the positives out of the Endurance Championship. We scored the most points out of everyone in that round. We got the Endurance Cup trophy this weekend. Of course, we wanted that win. But, this time it was taken away from us. I want to thank our partners Whelen Engineering, Lucas Oil, and every partner that’s been on board with us. I want to say a big thanks to the mechanics and engineers. They absolutely nailed everything we had on the table today.”

Starworks Wins LMP2

In LMP2, the No. 8 Tower Motorsports by Starworks ORECA LMP2 07 seized the lead in the ninth hour and John Farano, Mikkel Jensen, and Job van Uitert cruised to an easy victory.

The No. 52 PR Mathiasen Motorsport Oreca shared by Patrick Kelly, Simon Trummer and Scott Huffaker dominated the first eight hours of the event, but an off-course excursion by Trummer while running second in the final hour ended the team’s effort. Kelly still maintains a comfortable lead in the LMP2 point standings.

The No. 38 Performance Tech Motorsports Oreca with drivers James McGuire, Matthew Bell, and Colin Braun claimed second place in class, seven laps behind the leaders. Austin McCusker, Jakub Smiechowski, and Rob Hodes teamed to earn third place for the No. 51 Inter Europol Competition team.

The No. 8 entry was two laps down to the No. 52 at one point as driver rotations evolved, but clever pit strategy and hard driving put them in front.

“Luckily you can get some laps back with full course yellows,” said van Uitert. “We did what we had to do, and in the end, it worked out fine.”

#8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA LMP2 07, LMP2: John Farano, Mikkel Jensen, Job van Uitert, podium

Porsche Scores First GTLM Win of Season

#911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – 19, GTLM: Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, Matt Campbell, pit stop

The No. 911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR and the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 scored much-needed class victories in the 23rd annual Motul Petit Le Mans to break victory droughts.

The No. 911, with Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki and Matt Campbell taking turns behind the wheel, won in the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class – logging Porsche’s first victory of the season and the first for the No. 911 since VIRginia International Raceway in August 2019.

The No. 63 Ferrari, driven by Cooper MacNeil, Jeff Westphal and Alessandro Balzan, took home the GT Daytona (GTD) win. It’s the first for the car since MacNeil, Gunnar Jeannette and Daniel Serra won the Motul Petit Le Mans two years ago.

GTLM honors appeared headed to the No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE until near the end of the 10-hour race, when Augusto Farfus ran wide exiting the final turn and the car plowed through the dirt and grass just off track. Farfus was forced to pit to have dirt and debris cleared off the nose of the car and was relegated to a third-place finish.

#24 BMW Team RLL BMW M8 GTE, GTLM: John Edwards, Jesse Krohn, Augusto Farfus

Makowiecki was nearly 20 seconds back in second place when Farfus had his off-course excursion. After taking the lead in the No. 911, the Frenchman kept Antonio Garcia in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R in arrears the rest of the way. A pair of late full-course cautions bunched the field but Makowiecki wasn’t deterred and took the checkered flag under yellow. It delivered the first Motul Petit Le Mans triumph for him and Campbell, and the fourth in the iconic race for Tandy.

“Petit Le Mans is one of the big races during the season, you really want to get it,” said Makowiecki. “It was a very tough race, tough weekend, and I’m so proud about my team because we did not give up. We had some good moments, some bad moments, but we had the right one.

“It doesn’t count to lead nine hours and 59 (minutes), what counts is the last minute.”

Campbell admitted to nervousness watching from the pit stand as Makowiecki closed out the victory. The Aussie was also part of the No. 911’s third-place showing in the Rolex 24 At Daytona in January.

“It’s my first time to Petit, first time being part of this race and first time being part of Fred and Nick,” Campbell said. “A tremendous opportunity and obviously to pull off a win like this is fantastic.”

#912 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – 19, GTLM: Laurens Vanthoor, Earl Bamber, Mathieu Jaminet, #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R, GTLM: Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, Nicky Catsburg, #911 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR – 19, GTLM: Nick Tandy, Fred Makowiecki, Matt Campbell

After combining with No. 912 teammates Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber to win six races and finish 1-2 in the points last year, Tandy admitted to the frustration that Porsche has faced in 2020. That just made Saturday’s triumph more the sweeter.

“We’ve had such a poor season; there’s so many things that have gone wrong,” he said. “Kind of in the middle of the race, it looked like we weren’t going to be that competitive. To come out with a win, my fourth at Petit, it’s amazing. This makes up for all the bad times that we’ve had during the season so far. Mega.”

The second-place finish by Garcia, Jordan Taylor and Nicky Catsburg allowed the No. 3 Corvette to widen its GTLM points lead to 28 over the No. 4 Corvette. Garcia and Taylor lead No. 4 drivers Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner by the same margin with two races remaining.

#63 Ferrari Scores GTD Win, Telitz Takes Points Lead

Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.), Alessandro Balzan (Italy), and Jeff Westphal (San Mateo, Calif.) won the GTD Class in today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

#63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3, GTD: Cooper MacNeil, Alessandro Balzan, Jeff Westphal


The No. 63 Ferrari made it known from the start that it would contend in GTD, with Westphal taking the lead from the second starting position on the opening lap. The car remained near the front the entire race, despite absorbing contact on more than one occasion while battling in traffic around the 2.54-mile, 12-turn circuit.

Back in the car for the finish, Westphal made the decisive pass for the lead with just more than an hour to go. He pushed the No. 63 hard into Turn 10 and past Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3. From there, Westphal drove home the win – something he wasn’t expecting when the race weekend started.

“We showed up with a car that had great pace over one lap but it was killing the rear tires,” Westphal said. “Throughout each day, we made it better and better. We didn’t lose faith, we kind of just marched along and it really came alive in the race.”

It was Westphal’s third career IMSA win, the eighth for MacNeil and seventh for Balzan, who celebrated his 40th birthday in victory lane. On the heels of wrapping up a third straight Ferrari Challenge championship a week ago, MacNeil applauded the effort of his teammates and crew.

WeatherTech racing drivers MacNeil, Westphal, and Balzan all put in fast stints to keep the Scuderia Corsa prepared Ferrari at the front. It wasn’t without some drama. Three hours in MacNeil was in the car and when he had side-to-side contact with the No. 77 Mazda DPi. The damage was minimal except for a slightly askew steering wheel. The second time, Balzan was hit by the same car three hours later. Again, no significant damage and they didn’t have to pit out of sequence. At the end it was Westphal who made the last pass within the last hour of the race to bring the WeatherTech Ferrari home for the win.

“It is was a real team effort today,” Westphal said. “Cooper and Ale did a great job all race keeping the car at front of the field. I just happened to be the one that closed it out at the end. The Scuderia Corsa guys had the WeatherTech Ferrari hooked-up at the end. They put the car into a window where it would be good when it got cold at night. The colder it got, the better the car got. It was a pleasure to drive. A great win for the team!”

“The team gave me the tool, a great car to fight with and that is what I did,” MacNeil said. “Hats off to the team for working hard all weekend. We thought we would be good off of the trailer because we had a good car for the six-hour last month. Boy were we wrong. We had to work on it. The Scuderia Corsa guys didn’t complain about anything we wanted them to do, which was a fair amount of work. Thanks to them for keeping at it and working hard. It was up to us to execute as well as them to perform on pit stops. We had some contact with some prototypes, but that is multi-class racing so that kind of thing happens. I am pretty stoked to get my second Petit Le Mans win.”

“I would like to dedicate the win to Nina my girlfriend, her dad passed away a few months ago,” Balzan said. “I am so grateful for David and Cooper MacNeil of WeatherTech to put me back in the car. It is my 40th birthday today, so that is a nice gift. This is one of the few endurance race wins that I was missing. An amazing job by the Scuderia Corsa team to work on the set-up since free practice one. The car was amazing. We kept the rear tires on it, and it was a great run and a great win!”

For Team Owner Giacomo Mattioli, this was an exemplar performance of his team’s capability.

“I am proud of the job the entire team did today,” Mattioli said. “We were very happy to have Balzan back in the car, and I am very pleased to see him on the top step of the podium again. I was very impressed by Cooper’s job today; he did a great job. Jeff was solid all weekend long, and I’m thankful for how he kept his calm throughout the race. Our engineers and crew were perfect all race long. This was a team effort, well deserved by all.”

Race Results

1 1 DPI 10 CADILLAC van der Zande / R. Briscoe / Dixon 460 0.000s
2 2 DPI 7 ACURA A. Rossi / H. Castroneves / R. Taylor 460 0.429
3 3 DPI 6 ACURA J. Montoya / D. Cameron / S. Pagenaud 460 1.236
4 4 DPI 5 CADILLAC T. Vautier / S. Bourdais / L. Duval 460 3.700
5 5 DPI 31 CADILLAC F. Nasr / P. Derani / F. Albuquerque 458 2 Laps
6 1 LMP2 8 ORECA J. Farano / M. Jensen / J. van Uitert 450 10 Laps
7 2 LMP2 38 ORECA J. McGuire / M. Bell / C. Braun 445 15 Laps
8 6 DPI 55 MAZDA J. Bomarito / H. Tincknell / R. Hunter-Reay 441 19 Laps
9 3 LMP2 51 ORECA A. McCusker / J. Smiechowski / R. Hodes 441 19 Laps
10 1 GTLM 911 PORSCHE 911 RSR N. Tandy / F. Makowiecki / M. Campbell 431 29 Laps
11 2 GTLM 3 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R A. Garcia / J. Taylor / N. Catsburg 431 29 Laps
12 3 GTLM 24 BMW M8 GTE J. Krohn / J. Edwards / A. Farfus 431 29 Laps
13 4 GTLM 4 CHEVROLET CORVETTE C8.R O. Gavin / T. Milner / M. Fassler 431 29 Laps
14 5 GTLM 912 PORSCHE 911 RSR E. Bamber / L. Vanthoor / M. Jaminet 429 31 Laps
15 7 DPI 77 MAZDA O. Jarvis / T. Nunez / O. Pla 427 33 Laps
16 4 LMP2 52 ORECA P. Kelly / S. Trummer / S. Huffaker 418 42 Laps
17 1 GTD 63 FERRARI 488 C. MacNeil / A. Balzan / J. Westphal 413 47 Laps
18 2 GTD 14 LEXUS RC F A. Telitz / J. Hawksworth / M. De Quesada 413 47 Laps
19 3 GTD 44 LAMBORGHINI HURACAN J. Potter / A. Lally / S. Pumpelly 413 47 Laps
20 4 GTLM 16 PORSCHE 911 GT3 R. Hardwick / P. Long / J. Heylen 413 47 Laps
21 5 GTLM 9 PORSCHE 911 GT3 D. Olsen / Z. Robichon / L. Kern 413 47 Laps
22 6 GTD 57 ACURA NSX A. Parente / M. Goikhberg / T. Hindman 413 47 Laps
23 7 GTD 48 LAMBORGHINI HURACAN B. Sellers / M. Snow / C. Lewis 413 47 Laps
24 8 GTD 12 LEXUS RC F F. Montecalvo / T. Bell / K. Kirkwood 410 50 Laps
25 9 408 96 BMW M6 B. Auberlen / R. Foley / D. Machavern 408 52 Laps
26 8 DPI 85 CADILLAC C. Miller / M. Leist / G. Aubr 406 54 Laps
27 6 GTLM 25 BMW M8 GTE Spengler / C. De Phillippi / Herta 399 61 Laps
28 10 GTD 86 ACURA NSX M. Farnbacher / M. McMurry S. Michimi 399 61 Laps
29 11 GTD 23 ASTON MARTIN VANTAGE I. James / R. De Angelis / D. Turner 297 163 Laps
30 12 GTD 74 MERCEDES-AMG G. Robinson / L. Aschenbach / B. Keating 268 192 Laps
31 13 GTD 30 AUDI R8 LMS R. Ferriol / M. Winkelhock / A. Davis 258 202 Laps