After a Saturday which saw Porsche new recruit Gimmi Bruni storm to pole position around the 7 turn, 1.5mile Lime Rock Park, and a strong result of third by teammate Dirk Werner in the sister #911 car, on Sunday Porsche took their first North-American victory for their new mid-engined 911 RSR. However the roles were reversed at the race end, with Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner holding on for a 14 and a half second win over the sister #912 car of Bruni and Laurent Vanthoor.
The perfect sweep was continued in the GTD class, with the Park Place Porsche #73 being driven to victory, after a race long battle, by Jorge Bergmeister and Patrick Lindsey.
At the start, Bruni made a good getaway from pole, as did Werner from the second row, being almost level with Richard Westbrook in the #67 Ford GT, which started second, as they crossed the start line. The Porsche’s pressed home their advantage from there on in, with only the #24 BMW M6 car of John Edwards able to keep them in sight.
In GTD, Madison Snow in the #48 Paul Miller Lamborghini retained the lead from pole position, with Patrick Long in the #28 Alegra Porsche, and Jens Klingmann in the #96 Turner BMW, keeping him honest. Further back, the Change Racing Lamborghini Huracan #16 driven by Jeroen Mul and Corey Lewis was running in P9, however was trailed by a thick plume of white smoke, caused by a rear tyre rubbing. Lewis continued, but was tipped into the outside tyre barrier at the right hander of Turn 3 by Katherine Legge in the #93 Acura. The Briton got a little greedy on the inside kerb, pushing the Huracan off. Lewis managed to get the car restarted and continued, with part of the rear bodywork sticking out a good foot or so from the car on the rear left. They finished 11th in class and 2 laps off the GTD winner.
However the pain continued for Katherine Legge in the Acura, desperate to make up positions after she received a drive through penalty for the contact with the #16 Lamborghini, she then hit the #75 Sun Energy Mercedes AMG driven by Dion von Moltke, turning him around. Again she was given another drive through penalty, her second in just 20 laps. Later, Andy Lally would take over, bringing the car home in a credible fifth place, after driving through the pit lane four times, twice for penalties and twice for pit stops.
Back at the front, Bruni made a small error before his first pitstop, running off the track and bringing his Porsche #912 into the pits, unscheduled, and with a radiator full of grass. As Bruni jumped out of the car, Laurens Vanthoor took over, but the pit-call was so last minute, the 25 year old Belgian was still pulling his gloves on as he ran around the back of the car! Vanthoor then tried to make inroads into the 20 second lead held by the sister #911 car, in the hands of Patrick Pilet, but couldn’t close the gap to any less than 10 seconds to the leader.
After the Porsche’s pitted, it was the #67 Ford GT that found itself in the lead. It tried a daring one-stop strategy, similar to what won the car its first race back at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca; one year ago. Richard Westbrook managed to complete 1 hour and 17 minutes on his first stint, nearly half distance in the 2hour and 40 minute race, before handing over the Ryan Briscoe. However the strategy came up short, pitting from third with just five minutes remaining for a splash of fuel. They would wind up in fifth place.
The battle for third and fourth in GTLM was where the focus was at the race end, with Martin Tomczyk in the #24 BMW fending off the advances of the #3 Corvette driven by Antonio Garcia. For the final fifteen minutes, Garcia was looking for a way past the M6 in front, moving left and right across the track, trying to force an error by the German in front. However Tomczyk kept his cool, keeping the yellow C7R behind him, as he inherited third place after the #67 made its splash and dash fuel stop at the end.
The sister Corvette, the #4 car of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin was having a strong race until Milner lost it under braking for the Turn 4 chicane complex, sliding left and right before collecting the right hand side of the #66 Ford, being started by Dirk Muller. Both cars had to pit, with the Ford loosing four laps to repair the damage, eventually finishing in seventh. The #4 Corvette didn’t come off so lightly, dropping thirty laps to the leaders while the Pratt & Miller mechanics repaired the damaged suspension. They would finish – albeit in 22nd overall.
In GTD, Jack Hawksworth managed to snatch the lead in the #15 Lexus, and started to pull a small gap over the chasing pack, before pitting with an hour remaining and handing over to Robert Alon. However Alon stalled exiting his pit stall, leaving them to take the chequered flag down in seventh place.
At the front of the GTD class, Bergmeister in the #73 Porsche, still had the Paul Miller Lamborghini in the hands of Brian Sellers, and Patrick Long in the #28 Porsche for company, with those three running most of the last hour separated by under a second. However in the final 15 minutes of the race, Bergmeister managed to pull away to the tune of three seconds, sealing the win ahead of the Lamborghini, with the Porsche taking the final podium spot.
It was a difficult day in the office for the #33 Riley AMG, after a good start by Ben Keating, he handed over to Jeroen Bleekemolen, who had to pit shortly after with rear suspension damage, before retiring the car with 20 minutes to go. The team that led the championship at the start of the season, will need to have more races go their way if they want the chance to win.
Back at the front of GTLM, Patrick Pilet crossed the line to take the first win in North American competition for the new for 2017 Porsche 911 RSR, just six days after the European based team achieved their first win at the Nurburgring 6 hours. 14 and a half seconds back was the sister car #912, and the John Edwards/Martin Tomczyk BMW Team RLL taking the final podium step.
IMSA continues in two weeks time from Road America, with all of the classes once again out in action.