The eyes of the racing world were upon Texas and the Circuit of The Americas as Michelin and its IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GTLM class teams took turns in the spotlight at today’s Lone Star Le Mans race.
Porsche North America’s Frederic Makowiecki and Earl Bamber scored their first WeatherTech Championship win after getting around Porsche teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy in the final 20 minutes of the two hour, 40 minute race.
“The heat was brutal, but our Michelin medium compound “hot temperature” tires helped each of our GTLM technical partner teams perform at a very high level,” said Chris Baker, director of motorsports, Michelin North America.
Corvette Racing’s Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia finished third after stalking the Porsches for much of the race. BMW Team RLL’s Dirk Werner and Bill Auberlen made a late pass on Corvette Racing No. 4 Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner to claim fourth place.
“We weren’t necessarily the fastest car, but we tried to conserve our Michelin tires early and we were the most consistent over the long runs,” said Bamber. “The Porsche team has continued to fight hard all season and the 1-2 finish here is a great result.”
The final 1 hour, 42 minutes of the 2 Hour, 40 minute race unfolded caution free, meaning extended long runs on the steamy hot, fast, 3.4 mile, 20 turn circuit where high corner loads and temperatures can exact a toll on tire performance.
The No 67 Ford GT (Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook) won the class pole and was battling to overtake its WeatherTech Championship arch-rival No. 4 Corvette of Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin mid-race when the two cars made side-to side contact, breaking the Ford’s steering rack.
The popular Houston based No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari (Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella) jumped into the lead at the start and appeared on its way to a home track victory when it was sidelined by an electrical issue.
The Milner/Gavin Corvette, which has 2016 WeatherTech Championship GTLM class victories at Daytona, Sebring, Lime Rock and Road America, now leads the Briscoe/Westbrook Ford GT (winners at Monterey, Watkins Glen and Canada) by 11 points (314-303) heading into the season finale.
Corvette’s Garcia and Magnussen are third with 290 points, just four points up on Porsche’s Bamber and Makowiecki.
The 2016 WeatherTech Championship wraps up on Saturday, October 1, with the 10 Hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.