Action Express Racing’s Dane Cameron and Eric Curran won the fifth round of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship after a late downpour shook up the order at Detroit’s Belle Isle circuit.
Cameron made a decisive pass on Jordan Taylor (Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette) in the closing stages of the 100 minute race to claim not only his and Curran’s first win of the season, but also their first as a driving partnership.
The victory also marked the fifth different TUSCC race winner in as many races, keeping the championship battle wide open heading into the Watkins Glen endurance round.
Oswaldo Negri Jr took advantage of a late Joao Barbosa spin to finish second in the Michael Shank Racing Ligier JSP2.
Despite rotating fully and coming under immediate pressure from Joey Hand (Chip Ganassi Racing Riley-Ford) and Richard Westbrook (VisitFlorida.com Corvette), Barbosa held on to complete the podium.
Christian Fittipaldi, driving the #5 car, consolidated his pole position grid slot to lead the field for the first stint. The Brazilian was virtually untouchable for the first 30 minutes, with VisitFlorida.com’s Michael Valiante the only driver able to keep tabs.
The first caution of the race was called after 34 laps when Ben Keating’s Viper clipped the wall and deposited bodywork on the racing line. The leaders all opted to pit, with Barbosa assuming driving duties in the leading car. A quick pit stop by the Wayne Taylor Racing crew set Jordan Taylor ahead of Dane Cameron, although Cameron would return the favour soon after.
With the rain starting to fall over Belle Isle it was Taylor who moved up to the lead, albeit superficially. The Laguna Seca race winner couldn’t resist Cameron’s progress and was pounced on with half an hour to go. Taylor’s race then took a turn for the worse as contact with the #63 Ferrari caused damage to the front of his car, forcing a late pit stop which dragged the team down the order.
Cameron held his nerve at the head of the field to complete a commanding performance from the #31 crew, with Negri Jr finishing second, despite an earlier contact with Hand.
The Starworks Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis won the Prototype Challenge class after a race-long battle of attrition. Van der Zande was able to make the jump on James Vance (Performance Tech Motorsports) at a restart, from which the Dutchman was unstoppable. The JCD/Miller Motorsports entry of Mikhail Goikburg and Stephen Simpson finished third after Simpson found a way past Vance in the closing stages.
Few cars completed the race without encountering issues of some kind, most notably the #54 CORE Autosport machine of Colin Braun and Jon Bennett which came home in fourth. Bunching at the rolling start resulted in contact with another car, which required a hasty repair of the front left suspension by the CORE Autosport mechanics.
Elsewhere, the RSR Racing and P1/Mathiasen Motorsports cars both failed to finish after a heavy incident at turn one. Bruno Junqueira, driving the RSR machine, spun on cold tyres and was hit by an innocent Tom Kimber-Smith which eliminated both cars. Both drivers were unharmed.
GT Daytona honours went the way of the #23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing pairing of Ian James and Mario Farnbacher. An early pit-stop for the Alex Job crew allowed Farnbacher to control the race in the second stint, with the 23 year old German managing the gap well to win by 2.6 seconds ahead of James Davison in the #007 TRG-AMR Aston Martin.
The Aston crew had been in contention throughout the race, aided by a strong first stint from Christina Nielsen. Davison drove an equally consistent second leg but couldn’t quite match the superior strategy of the Alex Job squad.
Paul Miller Motorsports finished third, and despite controlling the race early on through Dion von Moltke the Audi customer outfit was unable to convert pole position into a win. Christopher Haase drove the second stint, ultimately finishing seven seconds adrift of the class leader.
Fourth place went to the #22 Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, while Spencer Pumpelly rounded out the top five in the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche.
Despite completing the race, four GTD cars, including the #007 Aston Martin and the #22, #73 and #58 Porsches were involved in a frightening accident at the end of the race when they aquaplaned off the racing line at turn one.
All drivers concerned (Davison, Pumpelly, Leah Keen and Jan Heylen) were safely removed from the cars and taken to the on-site medical centre for further checks. All have since been given the all-clear, although two track workers are now receiving hospital treatment following the incident.
The 2015 TUSCC season will now take a month’s break before returning for the Sahlen’s 6 Hours of the Glen on June 28, which doubles up as the third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup.