The #90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP of Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante won the fourth round of the Tudor United Sportscar Championship after a thrilling late-race dice with the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.
Westbrook was harried to the flag by Ricky Taylor, who finished 1.3 seconds adrift after a long period of green flag running.
Westbrook overtook Taylor in the final round of pit stops after opting not to take a fresh set of tyres for the final stint. With both drivers on old tyres and the #60 Michael Shank Racing Ligier of Oswaldo Negri Jr a distant third, the stage was set for a pulsating duel to the finish.
Taylor managed to close the gap to a car length but heavy GTD traffic restricted his attempts at catching Westbrook, who had taken over the #90 car from Valiante early on in the race.
Negri Jr finished 29.6 seconds behind the leader, while Joao Barbosa (#5) and Dane Cameron (#31) crossed the line fourth and fifth in the two Action Express Racing Corvettes.
Jordan Taylor led the field away after securing his maiden TUSCC pole position the previous day, although his advantage was short lived as Valiante made a determined move on the inside at turn one. The two Corvettes then proceeded to pull away from the field, with the gap between them and Fittipaldi (#5 Action Express) reaching nine seconds after 10 laps.
The lead changed on lap 15 when Valiante encountered traffic at the narrow turn three; the Canadian was forced to brake unexpectedly in avoidance which allowed Taylor to bounce past.
The #07 Mazda encountered terminal problems on lap 18 with Tom Long at the wheel, while the #0 DeltaWing experienced a broken exhaust head that forced Katherine Legge to retire 20 laps later. At roughly the same time the #01 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford DP of Scott Pruett encountered an engine issue. Although the team was able to send Joey Hand out to complete the race the team lost nine laps repairing the car.
After pursuing a similar strategy at the opening round of pit stops (which were conducted under caution after the #16 BAR 1 PC car spun at turn five), the two leading Corvettes continued their charge at the head of the field. Jordan Taylor assumed the lead at the restart, while Westbrook forced his way past Cameron to retake second place.
Wayne Taylor Racing maintained its lead until lap 65 when Jordan Taylor handed the car over to his brother Ricky, briefly promoting the Michael Shank Racing Ligier to the lead of the race before Negri made his scheduled stop.
The Ligier was the highest placed of the LMP2 runners but couldn’t match the pace of the leading duo, especially after Negri was pushed wide by a DP on the exit of turn one, which compounded the car’s pace.
The final round of pit stops took place at around lap 90, with Michael Shank Racing short-fuelling Negri after the Brazilian driver set the fastest lap of the race. Both Taylor and Westbrook took a splash of fuel with no tyres, which allowed the latter to jump ahead of the #10 machine with 40 minutes to go.
In sixth place was the #RSR Racing ORECA FLM 09 of Bruno Junqueira and Chris Cumming which was the best placed of the Prototype Challenge runners. Cumming produced a strong first stint to set up his Brazilian team-mate for the push to the flag, with Junqueira managing his fuel sufficiently to cross the line around 40 seconds ahead of the #45 CORE Autosport entry.
Third in PC was the Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA of James French and Mike Hedlund, while the #85 JDC/Miller Motorsports team finished fourth.
GTLM class honours went to Lucas Luhr and John Edwards n the #24 Team RLL BMW z4, which won convincingly from the sister #25 car that started from pole.
Despite challenging throughout the race the #911 Porsche 911 RSR of Patrick Pilet and Michael Christensen never had a permanent answer to the pace of the BMWs, and had to settle for third. The #62 Risi Competizione Ferrari finished fourth, while the #912 Porsche rounded out the top five.
The fight for victory in the GTD class was undoubtedly one of the most unpredictable, with four cars all in contention for the top spot. In the end it was the #73 Park Place Motorsports Porsche that won from pole with Spencer Pumpelly driving the final stint, while the #48 Paul Miller Motorsport Audi R8 of Christopher Haase kept him honest in the closing stages. Third in class went to the #23 Alex Job Porsche which finished 30 seconds adrift of the leader.
|1||P||90||VisitFlorida.com Racing||Corvette DP||112 laps|
|2||P||10||Wayne Taylor Racing||Corvette DP||+1.351|
|3||P||60||Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian||Ligier JS P2 Honda||+29.655|
|4||P||5||Action Express Racing||Corvette DP||+1:14.104|
|5||P||31||Action Express Racing||Corvette DP||+1:14.752|
|6||PC||11||RSR Racing||ORECA FLM 09||+2 laps|
|7||P||70||SpeedSource||Mazda Prototype||+2 laps|
|8||PC||54||CORE Autosport||ORECA FLM 09||+2 laps|
|9||GTLM||24||BMW Team RLL||BMW Z4 GTE||+4 laps|
|10||PC||38||Performance Tech Motorsports||ORECA FLM 09||+4 laps|
|11||GTLM||25||BMW Team RLL||BMW Z4 GTE||+4 laps|
|12||GTLM||911||Porsche North America||Porsche 911 RSR||+4 laps|
|13||GTLM||62||Risi Competizione||Ferrari 458 Italia||+4 laps|
|14||GTLM||912||Porsche North America||Porsche 911 RSR||+4 laps|
|15||GTLM||4||Corvette Racing||Chevrolet Corvette C7.R||+4 laps|
|16||PC||85||JDC/Miller Motorsports||ORECA FLM 09||+4 laps|
|17||GTLM||3||Corvette Racing||Chevrolet Corvette C7.R||+4 laps|
|18||GTLM||17||Falken Tire Porshe||Porsche 911 RSR||+4 laps|
|19||PC||16||BAR1 Motorsports||ORECA FLM 09||+6 laps|
|20||PC||8||Starworks Motorsport||ORECA FLM 09||+8 laps|
|21||GTD||73||Park Place Motorsports||Porsche 911 GT America||+9 laps|
|22||GTD||48||Paul Miller Racing||Audi R8 LMS ultra||+9 laps|
|23||P||01||Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford Ecoboost Riley DP||+9 laps|
|24||GTD||23||Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing||Porsche 911 GT America||+9 laps|
|25||GTD||63||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari 458 Italia||+9 laps|
|26||GTD||007||TRG-AMR||Aston Martin V12 Vantage||+10 laps|
|27||GTD||44||Magnus Racing||Porsche 911 GT America||+10 laps|
|28||GTD||22||Alex Job Racing||Porsche 911 GT America||+10 laps|
|29||GTD||93||Riley Motorsports||Dodge Viper GT3-R||+10 laps|
|30||GTD||45||Flying Lizard Motorsports||Audi R8 LMS ultra||+12 laps|
|31||GTD||97||Turner Motorsport||BMW Z4 GT3||+14 laps|
|32||GTD||33||Riley Motorsports||Dodge Viper GT3-R||+15 laps|
|33||PC||52||PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports||ORECA FLM 09||+16 laps|
|34||P||0||Claro/Tracfone DeltaWing Racing||DeltaWing DWC13||+74 laps|
|35||P||07||SpeedSource||Mazda Prototype||+94 laps|