Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor gave Acura Team Penske their first victory in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship after defeating the sister car of Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron on the series’ return to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Sunday.
The result ensured a perfect weekend for Penske who finished first and second in all of the sessions before the race before the two cars fought for the honours on race day, while class honours in GT Le Mans went the way of the Porsche GT Team and 3GT Racing were victorious in GT Daytona.
A great strategy call from Tim Cindric enabled the #7 Penske to assume the lead with a hour and twenty minutes remaining, and from there on Taylor was able to edge away from Montoya to claim the first victory for the Acura ARX-05.
The two cars were in a class of their own all weekend long and it was not really a surprise the #6 and #7 were up front throughout the afternoon around Mid-Ohio, but the strategy call enabled the Taylor/Castroneves car win by 8.464 seconds from the Montoya/Cameron car.
Behind the Penske duo, there was also celebrations in the Mazda Team Joest garage, as the #77 of Oliver Jarvis and Tristan Nunez claimed the first podium finish for the RT24-P, and although Jarvis gave a good chase to the leading duo early on, the pairing ended almost twenty-seven seconds back at the chequered flag.
There was misfortune however for the second Mazda, the #55 of Jonathan Bomarito and Spencer Pigot, who dropped out of contention after contact with a GT Daytona car, the #75 SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes of Maro Engel, with the damage putting Pigot into the pits for repairs and ultimately retirement.
Filipe Albuquerque and Joao Barbosa were unable to make it a third win in four races as the #5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac duo trailed home in fourth, more than fifty-six seconds back on the race winning Penske, while the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac of Renger van der Zande and Jordan Taylor claimed fifth, just under a second back on the leading DPi.V.R.
The Sebastian Saavedra/Gustavo Yacaman AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports Ligier claimed an excellent sixth, albeit seventy-three seconds down, while the final un-lapped runner was the seventh placed #99 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca of Stephen Simpson and Mikhail Goikhberg.
A lapped eighth was the #31 Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac of Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, while the Tequila Patron ESM Nissan team claimed the final two spots inside the top ten, the #22 ahead of the #2.
GT Le Mans
Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber secured victory for the Porsche GT Team, with the #912 duo denying a first victory for the new BMW M8 GTE, with the #25 BMW Team RLL duo of Connor De Phillippi and Alexander Sims coming up just 1.673 seconds short.
Bamber started the race fourth and made early gains, but it was when Vanthoor took over the car did the Porsche 911 RSR hit the front, and only during the subsequent pit stops did the car lose the lead, but a good strategy from the BMW team gave Sims and De Phillippi the chance to close the gap.
The #3 Corvette Racing C7.R of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia completed the podium, just over ten seconds back on the leaders, while the two Ford Chip Ganassi Racing entries ended just off the podium in fourth and fifth, the #66 of Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller ahead of the #67 of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook by just 1.274 seconds.
All eight of the GT Le Mans cars ran untroubled throughout the afternoon, with the #911 Porsche of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy sixth ahead of the #24 BMW Team RLL and #4 Corvette Racing C7.R.
Despite Jack Hawksworth holding the class lead at the start, the sister #14 3GT Racing Lexus of Kyle Marcelli and Dominik Baumann took the victory, while the podium was completed by the #86 Michael Shank Racing Acura and the #48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini.
Hawksworth and Marcelli held station in the early laps but once they had handed over to their co-drivers, the order changed, with Baumann passing David Heinemeier Hansson for the lead, while Alvaro Parente also found his way passed the Dane on lap sixty-six to run second.
When Hawksworth was able to return to the #15 car, he found himself down to fifth position and with a lot of work to do in order to reclaim the podium position, and ultimately it was too much for the Briton, and despite passing the #93 Michael Shank Racing Acura, he was forced to settle for fourth.
The leading Lexus found itself coming under increasing pressure towards the end as it aimed for its first victory of the season, with Baumann just holding on for the victory by less than two-tenths of a second from the Parente/Katherine Legge Acura, although the Madison Snow/Bryan Sellers Lamborghini was more than eighteen seconds back in third.