Pruett and Hand Take Convincing Win at COTA


Scott Pruett and Joey Hand dominated proceedings at the Austin round of the United Sportscar Championship to close in on the overall title.

The Chip Ganassi Racing pair resisted two full course cautions and conflicting pit stop strategies to emerge as the runaway winners in the #01 Riley DP.

Pruett led the way early on and maintained his lead at the first caution period by staying on track while the other Prototype runners pitted. Hand then took over from his experienced team-mate and emerged at the head of the field.

However, a late pit stop for fresh tyres added an element of doubt to the result, but Hand’s superior grip enabled him to quickly supersede Ricky Taylor’s Corvette and Memo Rojas in the DeltaWing to take a comfortable victory.

2015 TUDOR United Sportscar Championship Austin
Pruett (01) made the most of hectic start (Credit: Richard Dole – LAT/IMSA)

16 seconds adrift at the line was the Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP of Jordan and Ricky Taylor. The brothers had kept Pruett and Hand honest for much of the race but ultimately didn’t have an answer to the pace of the Riley.

Third place went to the Corvette DP of Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook, which retains its lead at the head of the overall standings. Valiante appeared to have taken the lead at the start but was dispatched by Pruett on the exit of turn one. He then lost second place to Jordan Taylor later in the lap, but the VisitFlorida team remained in contention throughout the afternoon despite losing out in terms of track position.

Westbrook crossed the line 44 seconds behind the Pruett/Hand car, and did well to hold off the charging Michael Shank Racing Ligier of Oswaldo Negri Jr. Completing the top five was the #31 Action Express Racing Corvette of Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, which was restricted by a drive through penalty after avoidable contact with the PC car of Renger van der Zande.

CORE Autosport recorded a second successive PC class victory at the Circuit of the Americas after Colin Braun charged through the field in the second half of the race. Braun and John Bennett finished 25 seconds ahead of the RSR Racing entry of Bruno Junqueira and Chris Cumming, while the James French/Conor Daly Performance Tech machine ended the race third.

2015 TUDOR United Sportscar Championship Austin
BMW took a surprise GTLM victory (Credit: Richard Dole – LAT/IMSA)

 

Despite receiving a set of performance restrictions ahead of the COTA round, Porsche still emerged as the dominant force in GTLM. The #911 car of Nick Tandy and Patrick Pilet looked set for a fourth consecutive victory, but a late fuel stop handed victory to the BMW Z4 of Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. Pierre Kaffer and Giancarlo Fisichella brought the Risi Competizione Ferrari 458 Italia home second in class, while Tandy recovered to take the third podium spot.

GTD honours went to the Viper of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating, which held off the Turner Motorsport BMW of Michael Marsal and Markus Palttala by just over a second at the line. The class was originally led by Townsend Bell in the Scuderia Corse Ferrari, but contact with Joao Barbosa’s Prototype Corvette landed Bell a drive through penalty.

In third was the Christopher Haase/Dion von Moltke Audi R8, while Ian James and Mario Farnbacher came fourth in the #23 Alex Job Racing Porsche.

The United Sportscar Championship will reach its conclusion next month at Road Atlanta, which plays host to the 10 hour Petit Le Mans event on October 3.