Polesitter JOHANNES van OVERBEEK/No.2 Extreme Speed Motorsports won a hard-fought the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca in a neck and neck battle for the last fifteen minutes with runner-up JORDAN TAYLOR/No.10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP Chevrolet. The Margin of Victory was 5.833 seconds. Overbeek said “I’m trying to absorb it all, my first overall win. Thanks to Ed for putting us where we needed to be.”
Van Overbeek co-drives with Team Owner, ED BROWN, who also is CEO of Patron, and it was their first TUDOR Class win. Brown said “It was intimidating out there. I started having fun out there by the second lap.”
Jordan drives with his brother RICKY. Third was SCOTT PRUETT/No.01 Chip Ganassi Racing Riley DP Ford, co-driving with MEMO ROJAS.
Fox Sports Move of the Race went to van Overbeek passing Taylor in Turn Four for the lead in the waning race laps. Taylor said he was saving fuel, the only Prototype doing so. Taylor struggled to get through debris in Turn Two. “I felt something on the tires and it kind of messed me up from turn two to three and that’s where he got me.”
It was also spirited, competitive racing with lots of drama in the GTLM class with lead changes, aggressive driving and some penalties. GTLM Pole Sitter ANTONIO GARCIA/No.3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R Chevrolet/Michelin took the victory by 4.710 seconds ahead of BILL AUBERLEN/No.55 BMW RLL BMW Z4 GTE BMW/Michelin, who was battling NICK TANDY/No.911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR Porsche/Michelin. Auberlen dove under Tandy in Turn Eleven on the last lap to grab runner-up. Those results were announced as provisional at the time, pending Steward’s review.
Immediately after the race, Tandy said “I’m happy enough for the podium (as third) but now I know how I will be driving from now on.”
This year IMSA has Driver Stewards who are in Race Control with IMSA Race Officials. After an incident, these Stewards immediately review the situation, using TV monitors, landline calls, etc. Their input is provided to PAUL WALTER, IMSA Race Director, who makes the call, literally and/or figuratively. For the Laguna Seca race the Driver Stewards were ELLIOT FORBES-ROBINSON and TOMMY KENDALL. While this is Kendall’s first time in the role, EFR has been doing it all season so far. Kendall said the positions will probably be held by several drivers in some kind of rotation, a la F1. As per Kendall, other drivers in the role so far include JOHNNY UNSER.
Some time after the race, Walter came to the Media Center to advise that there were post-race official penalties for the unofficial results, apologizing for the lateness of the announcement. “We have an extensive review process, including bringing in team members from No.55 and No.911, reviewing video, etc. The No.911 was assessed a sixty-second penalty for on-track incident – which is not the same as avoidable contact, which gets a 55-second penalty. If the incident had happened earlier in the race, the penalty would have been assessed during the race. The penalty means GIANCARLO FISICHELLA and PIERRE KAFFER/No.62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia Ferrari move up to third finishing position, and the No.911 moves down to ninth in class.”
Regarding the last lap, Walter said “We had insufficient evidence to assess responsibility.”
Penalties assessed during the race: No.90 P/Spirit of Daytona Corvette DP assessed a 55-second drive through for the incident in Turn Five with ALEX BRUNDLE/No.42 P/OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. Later Brundle was assessed a 55-second drive through for the incident in the Corkscrew when he dive-bombed into No.5 Action Express Corvette DP which then hit JOEL MILLER/No.07 SpeedSource Mazda DP, causing a minor melee. Miller retired as a result.
After Walter’s visit, the top two finishing GTLM teams came to the Media Center – the Corvette and the BMW.
Garcia said – “The C7.R was perfect. It was all about saving tires after I got by the Ferrari. It was a good call on the pits just to do one stop. I knew I had to run those tires for half an hour, so I decided just to give up a little bit of pressure on them and just start saving tires as best I could. Then with 20 minutes to go I could use the tires I had saved. I’m happy to get the back to back win with the C7R in the end.”
Auberlen said “”Our strategy was to do two stops, knowing every one else would do one. We knew we’d have much fresher tires and would make up the deficit. On the last lap we (Tandy and Auberlen) were side by side going into Turn Eleven. Walter always says leave a lane for racing. I was on the outside, but he moved on me twice. Anyone who knows me and has raced against me all these years will tell you I race clean, but when I try to pass another car on the outside of 11 and they slam the door and then do it again on the next lap I am really unhappy.”
The fastest drivers in the race were Brundle in the Prototypes at a record-breaking 1:19.747. Auberlen was fastest in GTLM, at 2:23.725, also a new record.
All cars in each race cleared scrutineering and there were no issues.
KATHERINE LEGGE/No.0 DeltaWing Racing Cars DeltaWing DWC13 Elan started the race from the Pit Lane for missing the Recon Lap, and then served a drive-through penalty for the Pit Lane race start. She drove until the driver change. After handing the car off to co-driver, ANDY MEYERICK, the car developed transmission problems and retired, credited with a P20 overall finish, ninth in class.
The weather was a bit warmer for the second TUDOR Championship race, at 62F ambient and 85F track.
The action was equally or more so frenetic at the start of the race. The top two cars raced the first 11 laps, tooth and nail as though they were going for the checkered flag. It was highly intense, nose to tail, side by side, anything. MICHAEL VALIANTE/No.90 Spirit of Daytona Corvette got past the pole car, and was then joined by GUSTAVO YACAMAN/No.42 OAK Racing Morgan Nissan. It was riveting until CHRISTIAN FITTIPALDI/No.5 Action Express Corvette got past Yacaman, and Valiante stretched his lead. Meanwhile Brown felt a vibration, and made an early pit stop/driver change to Overbeek.
Sunday’s TUDOR Championship P & GTLM race was caution-free, as was the morning PC & GTD race – first time this has happened since ???? No one can think back that far.
GILL CAMPBELL, President/CEO of SCRAMP (Sports Car Racing Association of Monterey Peninsula) was most pleased with the fan turnout, saying that there were higher numbers this weekend than the combined total of last year’s ALMS and Grand-Am races.