TUSC: GT Shocker; Tandy Leads Porsche to Petit Le Mans Triumph in Rain-Shortened Race

RaceChaser Staff Featured, Road Racing, Southeast, WeatherTech 0 Comments

BRASELTON, Ga. – official series release — Scott R. LePage/LAT for IMSA photo —

From winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans overall in a prototype to winning the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda overall in a GT Le Mans (GTLM) car, something about “Le Mans” style endurance races suits Porsche North America driver Nick Tandy.

With Tandy’s win at a rain-soaked Road Atlanta, the No. 911 Porsche North America team earned its fourth GTLM victory of the season, winning the 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship team title. It also propelled his co-driver Patrick Pilet to the GTLM driver title, beating out No. 25 BMW Team RLL drivers Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner by 10 points in the standings, 315-305.

Tandy did not win the driver championship alongside his teammate because of three races missed due to overseas commitments.

“When the race was coming to a close, I was aware that the No. 31 car was in the lead, but I knew if we had another rain shower I knew we would checker the race, so that was why I was pushing so hard to get ahead of the GTLM cars, and once I had done that and we had a really good pace and were comfortable we were catching the No. 31. It was a case of just pulling ahead of the rest, but we ended up winning overall, so it was fantastic,” said Tandy.

John Edwards, Lucas Luhr and Jens Klingmann finished second in the 10-hour race in the No. 24 BMW/IHG Rewards Club BMW Z4 GTLM. Like the No. 911 Porsche, Klingmann finished ahead of the Prototype category, second overall.

Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa – with an assist by IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais – overcame treacherous weather conditions on Saturday at Road Atlanta, using a Prototype (P) class victory in the rain-shortened 18th edition of the Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda to clinch their second consecutive TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

Bourdais drove Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP to the lead at the three-hour, 38-minute mark of the scheduled 10-hour race. He led the following 54 laps until a red flag stopped the action at the five-hour, 21-minute mark.  Barbosa took over shortly after racing resumed with three hours, 33 minutes remaining and regained the class lead in the closing minutes, but with conditions continuing to deteriorate, the race was declared checkered at the seven-hour, 51-minute mark.

Barbosa took third overall in the combined results, but first in the Prototype ranks.

“[Being called champion] sounds good, can you repeat it? It sounds really good,” said Barbosa. “The goal we had coming into this year was to try and win another one. Action Express, the team is expected to win. We come in with the same mentality. We want to go all the way to the end. This was no different, we came in with a deficit to the No. 90 car, so we wanted to win the race and get the best. This was not the conditions we were expecting or how we would end the year. Luckily we had the right strategy. We lasted without making any mistakes, and it was stressful to not put a wheel wrong.”

Fittipaldi and Barbosa entered the event tied for second with Action Express teammates Eric Curran and Dane Cameron, six points behind VisitFlorida.com Racing’s Richard Westbrook and Michael Valiante, 279-273. After Westbrook dominated the opening two hours of the race, a pair of spins on successive restarts by co-drivers Michael Valiante and Mike Rockenfeller cost the No. 90 VisitFlorida.com Corvette DP two laps, resulting in a fifth-place finish.

Curran led 30 laps down the stretch, pitting and turning the No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP over to Dane Cameron shortly after the 11th caution of the race waved due to a spin by Prototype Challenge (PC) driver Bruno Junqueira. That gave the lead to Barbosa, who led six laps under the caution before race officials made the decision to wave the checkered flag.

As a result, Fittipaldi and Barbosa unofficially came out on top in the final standings with 309 points, followed by Westbrook and Valiante with 306, and Curran and Cameron with 304.

“It was an awesome day for the whole team,” said Fittipaldi. “The whole thing starts back at the workshop. In two years, this car has only missed one lap and that was under reasons not under our control. Myself, Joao and Seb just try to execute as much as we can with what they prepare for us. I can’t say how happy we are with two championships in a row. When you’re at the top, competition naturally wants to knock you down. We would have done the same thing with other guys on the top. We are going to continue to work hard, but we are very confident to put it together again. So I’m looking forward to next season.”

Scott Pruett, Joey Hand and Scott Dixon finished second in the No. 01 Ford EcoBoost/Riley DP, placing fourth in the championship. They were followed by Curran, Cameron and Max Papis in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette DP, while defending Petit Le Mans winners Ricky and Jordan Taylor with Max Angelelli finished fourth in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP.

Tom Kimber-Smith, Mike Guasch and Andrew Palmer each took turns in the lead, driving the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports Cuttwood/Spyder ORECA FLM09 to a dominant victory in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class. The trio led 159 of the 190 laps en route to their fourth triumph of the season.

While the trio wrapped up PC honors in the Patrón Endurance Cup, they came up five points shy of winning the season championship. Jon Bennett needed to achieve the minimum driving time to give CORE autosport its second consecutive PC crown. Bennett met that goal, and then joined Colin Braun in finishing fourth in the No. 54 Flex-Box/Composite Resources ORECA FLM09 to share the title. They were joined by Anthony Lazzaro at the finale.

Renger van der Zande, Mike Hedlund, Mirco Schultis and Alex Popow finished second in the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Martini ORECA FLM09. Johnny Mowlem led 16 laps early in the event and joined Marc Drumwright, Tomy Drissi and Don Yount in finishing third in BAR 1 Motorsports’ second-place No. 16 Southwest Reality Advisors/The Walk/Top 1 Oil entry.

Park Place Motorsports drivers Spencer Pumpelly, Patrick Lindsey and Madison Snow claimed the GT Daytona (GTD) victory at Road Atlanta, their second victory of the 2015 TUDOR Championship season, leading the final 17 laps of the race. Pumpelly and Lindsey finish the season fifth in the GTD standings with 266 points.

Scuderia Corsa drivers Bill Sweedler, Townsend Bell and Jeff Segal finished fourth in today’s race. The finish was enough to earn the duo the GTD championship title in the No. 63 Robert Graham/Royal Purple Ferrari 458 Italia, beating Christina Nielsen by just two points, 281-279. Nielsen finished 10th with co-drivers Kuno Wittmer and Brandon Davis.

Second in the race was Andy Lally, John Potter and Robert Renauer in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Flex-Box Porsche 911 GT America. This is team’s second podium of the year after finishing in second at the most recent endurance race, the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Rounding out the podium was the No. 93 Riley Motorsports TI Automotive/Viper Exchange Dodge Viper SRT GT3-R co-driven by Cameron Lawrence, Al Carter and Marc Goossens. Lawrence and Carter clinched the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup GTD title earlier in the race.

CREDIT: IMSA Communications

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