TUSC: Red, White and Blue; Taylor Brothers Become First Americans to Win Petit Le Mans

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BRASELTON, Ga. – official release — LAT/IMSA photo — Sixteen years after winning the inaugural Petit Le Mans powered by Mazda, Wayne Taylor brought his boys and a long-time friend to victory lane in the 10-hour TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season finale at Road Atlanta.

Ricky and Jordan Taylor co-drove the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Konica Minolta Corvette DP with Max Angelelli to victory, holding off the No. 5 Action Express Racing Corvette DP by 11.062 seconds. They completed 400 laps – 1,016 miles – as the brothers became the first American-born drivers to win the event overall.

“It’s a great way to end the year,” Jordan Taylor said. “We’ve won the last race the last three seasons, and it’s a great trend we hope to continue. My dad won the first Petit Le Mans, so we’ve always heard about this race. He always talks highly about it, putting it up with Le Mans, Daytona and Sebring, We’ve had the car to beat the last two races, so we’re definitely looking forward to next season.”

Action Express Racing finished second, with Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa joined by IndyCar star Sebastien Bourdais in the No. 5 Corvette DP.

While it was denied the race victory, Action Express piled up several accolades throughout the event. They clinched the TUDOR Championship team title with the waving of the green flag, and less than two hours later Fittipaldi and Barbosa drove the required distance to secure the drivers’ crown.

At the eight-hour mark, the team wrapped up the $100,000 Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup team championship by leading the second segment in the unique competition rewarding competitors in the four endurance races in the TUDOR Championship: the Rolex 24 At Daytona, Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida and Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen.

“This team was unbelievable since the end of last season,” Barbosa said. “We worked all winter for the big challenge of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship. It was a big task for a small team, but we had a great year. We were the only team to compete every lap in all of the races. We had eight podiums in 11 races, three great victories, and the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and Patrón Endurance Cup – what a great year for Action Express.”

Scott Pruett, Memo Rojas and Scott Dixon took third, one lap down in the No. 01 Telcel Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Ford EcoBoost/Riley, followed by the No. 0 DeltaWing DWC13 of Andy Meyrick, Katherine Legge and Gabby Chavez.

An accident involving Prototype Championship leader Sean Rayhall in the No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 set up a seven-minute charge to the checkered flag. Jordan Taylor was up to the task, sprinting away from Barbosa to claim the team’s second victory of the season.

The No. 10 Corvette DP led nine times for 250 laps, with Action Express leading six times for 124 circuits. Ganassi Racing led three times for five laps and DeltaWing twice for 19 circuits. The event had 22 overall lead changes among seven cars.

After Rayhall’s incident, Renger van der Zande took advantage to score the third Prototype Challenge (PC) victory of the season for the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport Martini ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Mirco Schultis and Alex Popow.

“This is my second time at Petit Le Mans and my second win,” said Popow, who won with CORE autosport in 2012. “To win again in my second appearance is incredible, and also to give Starworks its first victory here.”

CORE autosport’s Colin Braun finished second, 10.990 seconds behind in the No. 25 Flex-Box ORECA FLM09, as the team just missed sweeping the four Patrón Endurance Cup races. Braun and Jon Bennett added the PC team title to the drivers’ titles they clinched at Austin’s Circuit of The Americas, and also joined James Gue in winning both team and drivers’ championships in the Patrón Endurance Cup in the No. 54 Composite Resources entry.

“I don’t think we had the raw pace that we needed today,” Braun said. “But I think we showed our strength by not giving up. We just kept our heads down and kept working, I wanted to be one spot better, but we came here to win the championship and we were able to accomplish that goal.”

In GT Le Mans (GTLM), SRT Motorsports won both the team and driver championships as Jonathan Bomarito, Rob Bell and Dominik Farnbacher nursed the No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R to the inaugural TUDOR Championship team title. Kuno Wittmer drove the No. 91 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R to the driver championship after sharing the No. 93 entry most of the season with Bomarito.

Bryan Sellers and Wolf Henzler repeated their 2013 triumph for Team Falken Tire in the final race for the American Le Mans Series presented by Tequila Patrón, and were joined in this year’s victory by Marco Holzer. It wasn’t easy, however, as Henzler had to hold off a late-race charge from the No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR of Michael Christensen following a full-course caution.

“Before the restart, I asked and they said there were a couple of prototypes between us [and second place], so I thought maybe I’d be safe,” said Henzler, who beat Christensen to the stripe by a mere 0.937 seconds. “I had three laps and I was able to keep my pace and keep him behind. He never could really attack me, but he was close.”

The No. 93 Dodge Viper SRT GTS-R entered the race with a seven-point lead in the season-long team championship ahead of the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R. After Jan Magnussen was caught up in a pit-road incident two hours, 45 minutes into the race in the No. 3 Corvette, SRT Motorsports was suddenly in the catbird seat. But what appeared to be a rather smooth drive to the championship certainly was not as the team had to nurse a hot gearbox throughout much of the 10-hour race.

It was a sixth-place finish for the team and Bomarito, who entered the race with a share of the points lead with regular co-driver Wittmer. In a bid to increase its odds for a championship, Wittmer moved to the team’s No. 91 entry and secured the driver championship with a third-place finish in the car co-driven by Marc Goossens and reigning Indy 500 winner Ryan Hunter-Reay.

“To be honest, I’m a bit upside down on emotions due to the fact that Jonathan can’t be sitting beside me,” said Wittmer. “He deserves it just as much as I do. We worked all season to be in this type of position to get a point lead. Strategically we got split for Petit, which makes sense, because one of us did win.”

The No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR driven by Christensen, Patrick Long and Earl Bamber finished second to win the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup team championship, while Christensen and Long won the Patrón Endurance Cup driver championship.

And in GT Daytona (GTD), Audi won its first TUDOR United SportsCar Championship race with Paul Miller Racing breaking through for its first victory in the 10-hour endurance classic with drivers Christopher Haase, Matt Bell and Bryce Miller in the No. 48 Audi R8 LMS.

After winning a series-high four races in 2014, Turner Motorsport won the GT Daytona (GTD) team championship with Dane Cameron taking the driver title.  Markus Palttala played an integral role in Turner Motorsport’s championship, sharing all four victories with Cameron, but missed the Brickyard Grand Prix at Indianapolis Motor Speedway due to a scheduling conflict.

“It’s just an amazing feeling to not only get my first sports car championship, but to get it in the inaugural year of the TUDOR Championship and be the first person is even more special,” said Cameron. “The last hour was probably the longest hour of my life. You just hear all kinds of crazy noises. They were counting me down about every 10 minutes. You wouldn’t believe how long 10 minutes could feel.”

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