Porsche Claim Petit Le Mans Win, Garcia, Magnussen GT Le Mans Champions Despite Crash

by Paul Hensby
Frederic Makowiecki, Nick Tandy & Patrick Pilet - Porsche GT Team - Petit Le Mans

The Porsche GT Team trio of Nick Tandy, Frederic Makowiecki and Patrick Pilet took victory in the final race of the 2018 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, but the title went the way of the #3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet despite finishing down in eighth after a crash from Antonio Garcia.

Tandy was able to pull away in the closing stages and despite having to save fuel, the Briton was able to close out the victory 11.443 seconds clear of the #4 Corvette of Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler.

It also gave the #911 trio of Tandy, Makowiecki and Pilet a third major endurance victory as a trio in 2018 after taking class victory in the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring in March as well as overall victory in the Nurburgring 24 Hours.

However, all eyes were on the championship battle that took a major swing with around two and a half hours, when Garcia crashed the #3 Corvette into the wall.  The Spaniard was able to get the damaged car back to the pits, with the mechanics doing an excellent job to repair the car and only lose two laps before it returned to the action.

This gave the #67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing trio of Ryan Briscoe, Richard Westbrook and Scott Dixon the advantage in the championship, but Briscoe was first passed for second by Milner’s Corvette before he also fell behind the two BMW Team RLL M8s.  The fifth-place finish ensured that the #3 of Garcia and Jan Magnussen clinched their second consecutive championship.

In the battle of the BMW’s it was the #24 of John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Chaz Mostert who completed the podium ahead of the sister #25 of Connor de Phillippi, Alexander Sims and Bill Auberlen.

The #912 Porsche of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and Mathieu Jaminet finished sixth and on the lead lap, while the #66 Ford of Joey Hand, Dirk Muller and Sebastien Bourdais was a lap down in seventh despite leading the race at points throughout the ten-hour event.  They finished ahead of the #3 Corvette and the #62 Risi Competition Ferrari of Toni Vilander, Miguel Molina and Andrea Bertolini, which brought up the rear in its first race since the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.

Porsche may have taken the Petit Le Mans battle, but Corvette certainly won the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship war, and it was consistency rather that outright pace that gave Garcia and Magnussen the title.  The duo did not stand on the top step of the podium all year long but secured enough points to take the crown.  Now they will go into 2019 looking for the hat trick!

Ford did have the consolation of taking the GT Le Mans manufacturer’s championship, they only needed to cross the start line at the beginning of the race to achieve that, but they will be kicking themselves for being in position to win the Drivers’ crown and letting it slip when it mattered.

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