BRASELTON, Ga. – The International Motor Sports Association recognized its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship post-season award winners and champions at Monday’s WeatherTech Night of Champions, held before a capacity audience in Chateau Elan’s new Paris Ballroom.
“Tonight we honored the drivers, teams and manufacturers who have all earned the right to call themselves champions, through their extraordinary on-track performances throughout the 2016 season in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,” said IMSA President Scott Atherton. “Congratulations to everyone for their hard work and sacrifice in making this the most competitive, and we believe the most prestigious form of sports car racing in North America. The competition throughout all four classes was nothing short of outstanding.”
Eric Curran and Dane Cameron were crowned as Prototype champions, while Action Express Racing was awarded the team title for the third consecutive year. Sonny Whelen accepted the award on behalf of the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Corvette Daytona Prototype team.
“It’s a tremendous honor to win the final championship of the Daytona Prototype era,” Cameron said. “I would like to thank Sonny Whelen and Action Express for the opportunity. It’s been a dream come true to join a top-ranked Prototype team and have a shot every weekend, knowing you can win a race and win a championship. It’s hard enough to win one – to win three in a row is pretty amazing.”
Other series champions crowned at the event were Corvette Racing’s Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin in GT Le Mans (GTLM), Starworks Motorsport drivers Alex Popow and Renger van der Zande in Prototype Challenge (PC) and Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan in GT Daytona (GTD), giving Scuderia Corsa its second consecutive team title in the class. Nielsen made motorsports history by becoming the first female driver to win a major full-season professional sports car racing championship in North America.
Each champion received the Bishop-France Award, replicas of the series’ perpetual trophy, as well as a TUDOR Heritage Chrono timepiece from TUDOR Watch USA.
The championship-winning Action Express Racing (P), Starworks Motorsport (PC) and Scuderia Corsa (GTD) teams also received paintings by motorsport artist Bill Patterson of their race cars commissioned by Continental Tire.
Chevrolet was recognized as winner of the manufacturers’ championship in both the Prototype and GTLM classes, while Audi won the GTD manufacturer title. Michelin was the winning GTLM tire manufacturer.
Also recognized were the winners of the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup, comprising the four iconic endurance races on the schedule. Honda was the Prototype manufacturer winner, while Action Express Racing’s No. 5 Mustang Sampling Corvette DP with co-driven by Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi won the team and driver honors for the third consecutive year.
Chevrolet won the GTLM Patrón Endurance Cup, with Corvette Racing taking the award for the second straight year with drivers Milner and Gavin. PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports repeated in PC with drivers Tom Kimber-Smith, Robert Alon and Jose Gutierrez. In GTD, Audi was the Patrón Endurance Cup manufacturer champion, with Magnus Racing capturing team honors and Scuderia Corsa’s Nielsen and Balzan the driver champions.
Atherton gave special recognition to John Pew, who won in his 119th – and final – Prototype race for Michael Shank Racing in Saturday’s Petit Le Mans presented by Harrah’s Cherokee Casino Resort. He was presented with a lifetime IMSA hard card credential and a special painting by Patterson featuring his career highlights.
“Saturday, we all witnessed a storybook ending for John’s career,” Atherton said in making the presentation. “John, Ozz [Negri] and Olivier Pla delivered a dominant performance in their No. 60 Honda Ligier to close out the season atop the victory podium. Hollywood couldn’t have scripted it.”
The season-long TOTAL Pole Awards went to Fittipaldi (P), Alon (PC) and Riberas (GTD).
Continental Tire presented its new Extreme Spirit Award. Car owner Mike Shank won in the Prototype class, with Performance Tech Motorsports team principal Brent O’Neill winning in PC and Paul Miller Racing Audi driver Bryan Sellers was recognized in GTD.
The VP Fuels Front Runner Award, presented to the team leading the most laps during the second half of the season, went to the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 team in PC/GTD and Ford Chip Ganassi Racing’s No. 67 Ford GT in P/GTLM.
The DEKRA Green Award went to the Risi Competizione Ferrari team for having the cleanest, fastest and most efficient car.
The Green Racing Award, awarded to GTLM manufacturers and supported by the Department of Energy, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Society of Engineers, went to Ford Performance.
CREDIT: IMSA Communications