The number #66 Ford GT car of Joey Hand and Dirk Muller grabbed victory in the Northeast GP for round eight of the IMSA Weathertech and Sportscar Championship at Lime Rock Park after benefiting from a mistake by the number #3 Corvette Racing entry with less than 15 minutes to go in the 2 hour 40 minute event.
After the race, Joey Hand told IMSA.com that: “I think today we capitalized on some opportunities, some guys made mistakes and we were right there to take advantage of it.”
“Winning races is all about that, winning championships is all about winning races.”
Antonio Garcia‘s polesitting number #3 Corvette Racing machine held the lead of the race off the start over Laurens Vanthoor in the number #912 Porsche 911 RSR.
Behind the top two, the sister Corvette of Tommy Milner aced the start to beat Muller in the number #66 Ford GT to go third.
There was an early yellow flag period following a GTD collision between the the number #93 Acura NSX of Lawson Aschenbach and the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 of Bill Auberlen, which saw the BMW tag the NSX, only to be collected by Aschenbach as he returned to the track, causing both drivers to retire from the race.
The restart was fairly static at the head of GT-LM, while further behind, John Edwards in the BMW M8 slotted himself ahead of the second Ford of Richard Westbrook, the second BMW of Connor de Phillippi and Patrick Pilet in the number #911 Porsche.
However, his charge forward was short-lived with Westbrook passing Edwards for fourth and set about closing the 6-second gap to team-mate Muller. But Muller maintained the gap to Westbrook at ease and began pressurizing the number #4 Corvette of Milner for third.
After the first round of pit-stops, Jan Magnussen assumed the lead in the number #3 Corvette with Earl Bamber in second in the number #912 Porsche. But behind, the two Fords of Joey Hand and Ryan Briscoe jumped the number #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin into third and fourth positions respectively.
On lap 106, Bamber made a costly error by speeding up before his pit-stop, causing him to run off course. His issues were then compounded by a faulty wheel-gun that stretched his stop so long that he rejoined in fourth position.
In the sister Porsche, Tandy lost second to Joey Hand in the Ford GT which allowed the number #66 Ford to set after the leading Corvette in hot pursuit with 45 minutes still to play. The Ford began slicing into the 10-second deficit to the Corvette and had brought the gap down to 5-seconds with half an hour to go. But the gap then began to stabilize and it appeared his chance of victory had gone when he tagged the Magnus Racing Audi, which dropped him to 8-seconds off the leader.
But Hand soon regrouped, closing the gap at an incredible rate of knots with just 25 minutes on the clock. This was while Magnussen was under pressure from Tandy unlapping himself which he allowed to happen as well as negotiating the huge hoards of GT-D cars ahead. Hence, with 15 minutes to go, Hand was right on Magnussen’s tail and the Dane went for a move on one of the GT-D cars that put him off line and allowed Hand to cruise through to victory.
Magnussen’s pace tailed off massively thereafter and finished some 11-seconds behind Hand and only 2-seconds ahead of Bamber over the line. Gavin in the sister Corvette took fourth ahead of a fighting fifth for Tandy who nerfed Briscoe out of the way in the dying moments of the race.
Patrick Long in the number #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 RSR headed the two Lexus RC-F machines at the start, with Jack Hawksworth in the number #15 machine getting ahead of Dominik Baumann in the number #14 entry.
The opening lap saw a collision between the number #93 Acura NSX of Aschenbach and the Turner Motorsports BMW M6 of Auberlen, bringing out an early yellow flag.
While Long looked comfortable out front, stretching his lead to 20-seconds, Bryan Sellers in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 moved ahead of both Lexus cars when Hawksworth pitted at the end of lap 41.
At the end of lap 51, all cars had stopped and Christina Nielsen emerged behind the Lexus of Hawksorth, who adopted an alternate strategy, but she was still in prime position for her race. That was until Madison Snow in the number #48 Lamborghini Huracan passed Nielsen at ease.
On lap 79, Hawksworth made his second stop which dropped him to the back of the field and cleared the way for the Lamborghini to assume the race lead.
Up front, Andy Lally passed Long for second place in the Audi R8 with just 30-minutes to go. But things got worse for the Wright Motorsports outfit with 20-minutes to go, as he was struggling with rear grip which allowed Alvaro Parente through in the number #86 Acura NSX, Gunnar Jeannette in the Ferrari 488 and Mario Farnbacher in the recovering number #15 Lexus RC-F.
Jeannette snapped third from Parente in the final five minutes of the race. Meanwhile, Jerome Bleekemolen in the number #33 Mercedes GT and Kyle Marcelli in the number #14 Lexus RC-F both displaced Patrick Long as he continued to fade in the closing stages of the race.