IndyCars - The off-season: Series news and comment until the March 2014 kick-off


#230

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And another one bites the dust!..Another IndyCar bachelor, that is…

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…as 2017 IndyCar Champion Josef Newgarden took the opportunity of a vacation to Japan - one of his favorite countries - to pop the question to longtime girlfriend Ashley Welch in the ancient gardens of Kyoto, on Saturday. Welch and Newgarden have been going together for most of his IndyCar career.
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Cute couple!

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No date has been released to the public. Congrats, kids!!

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#231

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Pippa’s on the move!..(part 5)…

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As we left the couple in post # 203 IndyCar driver Pippa Mann and husband Robert Gue - an engineer for Schmidt Peterson Motorsports - took off from Santiago, Chile and headed to the coastal town of Valparaiso.

Founded in 1536, the port city is known for its colorful buildings - slathered in brilliant and unusual colors, with many of them a canvas for street art, as Pippa and “Himself” found out, with Pippa declaring, “Valparaiso might just be my favorite location yet!”

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continued…

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#232

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Pippa’s on the move!..(part 6)…

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More from Valparaiso…

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After spending the day in Valparaiso the couple went back to spend their last evening in Santiago and in Chile. In the morning they set off up the Pacific coast for Peru. Stay tuned!

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#233

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It’s time!..The Motul Petit Le Mans is upon us…

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This weekend the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will close out the season and determine all three class championships with one of the most popular races on their schedule - the 10-hour Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta, which is the last of the year’s four Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup races and that championship is on the line, too.

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Not only will the WeatherTech gang race but they will be ably supported all weekend with the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the IMSA Prototype Challenge series and the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA series, and they will all crown champions, as well.

As is always the case with the endurance races, the regular racing squads - already peppered with many current and former IndyCar folks - get loaded up with IndyCar talent that has nothing better to do at the moment, as their seasons are over. Let’s see who they are, series by series, starting with the WeatherTech P-class:

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IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier has gotten a last-minute call to come in and substitute for Joao Barbosa - injured at Laguna Seca - in the # 5 Cadillac DPi V.R. for Action Express. Tristan’s co-drivers are team regular Filipe Albuquerque and the other Petit add, Christian Fittipaldi. Tristan has plenty of Caddy experience - He took pole at Sebring this year in one for Spirit of Daytona - but this is his first drive for AX.

Tristan Vautier

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Two-time Indy 500 WINNER Juan Pablo Montoya will drive the # 6 Acura ARX-05 DPi for Acura Team Penske with former IMSA Champ Dane Cameron. They will be joined for the PTL by current IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud.

Juan Pablo Montoya (left) and Simon Pagenaud

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Three-time Indy 500 WINNER Helio Castroneves will drive the Team Penske sister car, the # 7 Acura DPi, with former IMSA Champ Ricky Taylor co-driving. Added in for Petit Le Mans is IndyCar driver Graham Rahal.

Helio Castroneves (left) and Graham Rahal

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IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay is added to the competent crew of the #10 Cadillac DPi V.R. for Wayne Taylor Racing. He’s aiding regulars Renger Van Der Zande and Jordan Taylor at PTL.

Ryan Hunter-Reay

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Pro Mazda alum Pipo Derani - fresh off the WIN at Laguna Seca - will be in the # 22 Nissan DPi for Extreme Speed Motorsports with co-driver Johannes van Overbeek. They are adding Germany’s Timo Bernhard to the car for the PTL.

Luis Felipe Derani

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IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves has been recruited to help the regular squad in the # 31 Cadillac DPi V.R. for Action Express, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran. These boys are the current points leaders in P class, so Gabby is there to help them secure the title. Gabby was the fill-in for Joao Barbosa at Watkins Glen earlier in the season, so he knows the AX Caddys.

Gabby Chaves

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Indy Lights alum James French will partner with Kyle Masson and Nick Boulle in the # 38 ORECA 07 Gibson for Performance Tech Motorsports. This will be the squad’s first start since the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, after crashing out in practice at its most recent outing at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park.

James French

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The pilots in the # 52 ORECA 07 Gibson for AFS / PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports are all IndyCar alums. Team regular Sebastian Saavedra, a former IndyCar driver, is being joined by two Pro Mazda alums with great endurance records - Will Owen and Jose Gutierrez.

Left to right, Sebastian Saavedra, Will Owen and Jose Gutierrez.

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IndyCar driver Spencer Pigot has been the endurance fill-in at Mazda Team Joest for a few years now, and he will do that duty again at Petit Le Mans, in the # 55 Mazda RT24P, helping team regular Jonathan Bomarito and the other add, Marino Franchitti.

Spencer Pigot

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Former USF2000 pilot and PC-class Vice-Champion Robert Alon and co-driver Simon Trummer will be in the # 85 ORECA 07 LMP2 for JDC-Miller Motorsports. For the PTL they have added Canadian Devlin DeFrancesco.

Robert Alon

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continued…

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#234

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It’s time!..The Motul Petit Le Mans is upon us…(part 2)…

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In the GTLM class the IndyCar guys are:

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We will have Pro Mazda alum Connor de Phillippe in the # 25 BMW M8 GTE for BMW Rahal Letterman Lanigan along with co-driver Alexander Sims. These guys are coming off their 2nd WIN in a row at Laguna Seca. For the PTL they get BMW master-craftsman Bill Auberlen to help.

Connor de Phillippe

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IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais will supplement the regular squad in the # 66 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi, Joey Hand and Dirk Mueller. Seb and Dirk and Joey have had much success in the past as a squad for Ford.

Sebastien Bourdais

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IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe will be in the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi, with co-driver Richard Westbrook. For Petit Le Mans they will get helped by IndyCar’s 2018 Champion, Scott Dixon. Ryan and Richard are in 2nd place in the points, 9 points out to Corvette guys Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen.

Ryan Briscoe (left) and Scott Dixon

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There are four IndyCar drivers in the GTD class. They are:

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IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth will be in the # 15 Lexus RC-F GT3 with David Heinemeier Hansson for 3GT racing. For the Petit Le Mans they will get assistance from Indy Lights alum Sean Rayhall.

Jack Hawksworth (left) and Sean Rayhall

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IndyCar driver and broadcaster Townsend Bell closes out the season in the # 64 Ferrari 488 GT3 that he shares with Frank Montecalvo for Scuderia Corsa. For Petit Le Mans Towny’s long-time driving partner Bill Sweedler will also be in the car.

Townsend Bell

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IndyCar driver Katherine Legge is 2nd in the points - 6 points out - in the GTD class, driving the # 86 Acura NSX GT3 with co-driver Alvaro Parente for Meyer Shank Racing. She is chasing Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers in the Lamborghini Huracan GT3 for Paul Miller Racing. Kat and Alvaro will get able help from multiple-Champion driver Trent Hindman

Katherine Legge

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In the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge series there are three IndyCar guys:

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In the Grand Sport class USF2000 alum Austin Cindric will partner with Chase Briscoe in the # 22 Ford Mustang GT4 for Multimatic Motorsports.

Austin Cindric

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Also in the GS class will be another USF2000 alum and a Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Champion, Jesse Lazare in the # 69 McLaren GT4 for Motorsports in Action. His co-driver is fellow Cup driver Corey Fergus.

Jesse Lazare

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In the Touring Car Class Pro Mazda alum and paraplegic Michael Johnson will drive the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports by using hand controls. His co-driver is newly-minted American Stephen Simpson - formerly a South African.

Michael Johnson

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In the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA series there is one IndyCar guy:

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Trenton Estep - a finalist in the Mazda Road to Indy 2016 Shootout, following his Formula Tour F1600 Series Championship - is the current points leader and looks to be a shoe-in for the title, barring some really bad luck. Driving the # 3 Porsche 991 Cup car for JDX Racing, he has 13 podiums in 14 races, with 4 WINS. His nearest rival in young Roman de Angelis for Kelly-Moss Road & Race.

Trenton Estep

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continued…

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#235

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It’s time!..The Motul Petit Le Mans is upon us…(part 2)…

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Finally, there are 7 IndyCar guys in the IMSA Prototype Challenge series. They are:

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Pro Mazda driver Kris Wright is the current points leader of the LMP3 class, driving the # 30 Ligier JS P3 for Extreme Speed Motorsports. His co-driver for the weekend will be Nic Jonsson. Kris has a substantial lead in the points and looks to take the title, barring some bad luck.

Kris Wright

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2nd in the points is USF2000 alum Austin McCusker, 23 points off of Kris. He and Pro Mazda alum TJ Fischer drive the # 47 Norma M30 for Forty 7 Motorsports.

Austin McCusker (left) and TJ Fischer

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3rd in the points is yet another IndyCar guy, Pro Mazda alum Max Hanratty, in the # 3 Ligier JS P3 for Extreme Speed Motorsports. His co-driver at Road Atlanta will be Harry Gottsacker.

Max Hanratty

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Indy Lights alum Garett Grist will co-drive the # 51 Ligier JS P3 for K2R Motorsports. The speedy little Canadian will share the car with Rob Hodes.

Garett Grist

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Champ Car alum Memo Gidley is driving the # 88 Norma M30 with co-driver Charles Chi for Five Miles Out Racing. It’s great to see Memo racing, following his devastating and near-career-ending crash at Daytona in 2014 while driving a Corvette DP for Bob Stallings.

Memo Gidley

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In the MPC class the IndyCar guy is American Tazio Ottis, a USF2000 alum who is 4th in the points, but only 5 points out in the tight race for the title. Tazio drives the # 28 Elan DP02 with Bart Wolf for Wolf Motorsports.

Tazio Ottis

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That’s it for known IndyCar drivers at this time, but walk-ups can and sometimes do happen. If any occur we will let you know. In the mean time, practice has already begun as the IMSA Prototype Challenge guys and the Porsche Cup guys took to the track on Wednesday.

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Let’s get this thing going!

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#236

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Wednesday at Road Atlanta - Practice begins for the weekend of racing ahead…

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First on the track under dark and foreboding skies were the guys from Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA. The TOP THREE following this first practice session were:

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The fastest guy on track was recent interloper Zacharie Robichon - the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada 2018 Champion. Zach is filling in at Moorespeed in the # 19 for the absent Will Hardeman, and has been for a number of races…and he has been tearing it up, with multiple WINS. Today his time was 01:24.328 seconds for a speed of 108.433mph. He bested Anthony Imperato for Wright Motorsports in the # 91 by 0.230 seconds. 2nd-in-the-points Roman de Angelis who drives the # 1 for Kelly-Moss Road & Race was 3rd fastest on track today. Points-leader Trenton Estep did not go out for this practice.

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Zacharie Robichon on top of the time chart for the P-1 session

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Top 3 today: (left to right) Zacharie Robichon, Anthony Imperato and Roman de Angelis

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On Thursday, the Porsche Cup guys will hold another practice, then qualify later in the day and then finally hold Race 1 of their weekend in the late afternoon. Next, the IMSA Prototype Challenge series hold their first practice…

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#237

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Wednesday at Road Atlanta - the IMSA Prototype Challenge series hold frst practice…

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Both classes of the IPCS came out for first practice. Here are the TOP THREE for each class:

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In the LMP3 class the rabbit it the P-1 session was former Champion Kenton Koch, driving the # 25 Ligier JS P3 for P1 Motorsports to a time of 01:25.862 seconds for a speed of 106.496mph. He was able to beat out Leo Lamelas in the # 7 Ligier for Charles Wicht Racing by a huge 2.633 seconds. Kenton’s co-driver is veteran Joel Janco while Andy Evans drives with Leo. 3rd on the timing sheet was Corey Lewis in the # 17 Ligier for P1 Motorsports. His co-driver is Matt Dicken.

Kenton Koch kills it in the LMP3 class today

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Kenton Koch

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In the MPC class the fastest guy in the P-1 session was points-leader Dave House driving the # 86 ONE Motorsports Elan DP02 to a time of 01:31.026s for a speed of 100.454mph. Dave bested his own teammate, Gerhard Watzinger, in the # 32 Elan by 0.383 seconds. Dave’s co-driver will be Mikel Miller while Gerhard is driving alone. 3rd fastest was veteran Jon Brownson in the # 34 Elan for Eurosport Racing. Jon is also alone this weekend. By the way, the astounding Dave House is 75 years old!

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Dave House still wheeling it with authority

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Dave House

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Prototype Challenge will have a 2nd practice on Thursday morning and then qualify in the early afternoon. Thursday will be a very busy day for all the series competing at Road Atlanta this weekend.

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#238

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Thursday at Road Atlanta - The Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA guys go racing…

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The first guys on the track today were the Porsche Cup guys, out to hold a 2nd practice in anticipation of qualifying mid-day and racing late in the day. Only 5 Platinum-class drivers came out for the P-2 session and of them, only points-leader Trenton Estep is a top contender. He placed 5th on the time sheets. Next up was qualifying…

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Pole - Zacharie Robichin, Moorespeed - time of 01:23.424s for a speed of 109.608mph

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P2 - Maxwell Root, Wright Motorsports - time of 01:23.699s for a speed of 109.248mph

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P3 - Anthony Imperato, Wright Motorsports - time of 01:23.836s for a speed of 109.069mph

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P4 - Roman de Angelis, Kelly-Moss Road & Race - time of 01:23.898s for a speed of 108.989mph

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P5 - Trenton Estep, JDX Racing - time of 01:23.962s for a speed of 108.906mph

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The race.

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Race 1 of the weekend started with pole-sitter Zacharie Robicon in the # 19 getting caught out at the start. He was waiting for the right moment to begin to accelerate when the green flag flew well before he was expecting it and the rest of the field correctly followed the flag man. Robichon lost P1 to Max Root and then fell to Roman de Angelis, who had managed to slip by Anthony Imperato at the start. Robichon dropped to P3 and Imperato to P4.

Within a few laps Zacharie was able to pass de Angelis for P2 and then went after Max Root. The young rookie driver was able to hold off the Cup Challenge Canada Champion for about ten minutes but fell to him on lap 12. In the remaining time there were two full-course cautions but no one was able to take advantage of the restarts and the race ended with Robichon the WINNER, Root in P2 and de Angelis in P3. Trenton Estep finished in P5 behind Imperato.

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Notable:

  • This is Robichon’s 6th WIN in the 7 races he has subbed for absent Will Hardeman at Moorespeed.

  • Trenton Estep lost 4 points to his only remaining points rival, Roman de Angelis. Estep leads 469 points to 442, with a maximum of 35 available from the last race of the season on Friday.

  • Friday’s season finale will have Robichon on pole, Anthony Imperato in P2, Roman de Angelis in P3, Maxwell Root in P4 and Trenton Estep in P5.

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Here is your happy podium from Race 1 of the weekend - That’s Maxwell Root in P2 on the left, Zacharie Robichon in P1 in the middle and Roman de Angelis in P3 on the right:

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The final race of the season will be held in what is expected to be gorgeous weather in the morning on Friday. Either Estep or de Angelis will be crowned 2018 Champion for Cup Challenge USA.

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#239

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Thursday at Road Atlanta - The CTSC come out for three practice sessions and then qualify…

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The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge gang held a practice early in the day, with all three classes on track. They followed that up with a 2nd practice midday and then a 3rd practice in the afternoon. They then qualified in two groups late in the day, with the Street Tuner boys and the Touring Car boys in one group and the Grand Sport guys in another group. Here’s how they shaped up on the day, starting with Grand Sport:

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In the GS class the rabbit after three practices was Paul Holton in the Compass Racing # 76 McLaren GT4 that he shares with Matt Plumb. Paul’s P-2 session time beat out the P-3 session time of Patrick Gallagher in the # 8 Ford Mustang GT4 for Multimatic Motorsports. When it came time to qualify Holton turned that speed into pole for the GS class with a time of 01:28.326s for a speed of 103.525mph. Paul beat out Corey Fergus in the # 69 McLaren GT4 for Motorsports in Action by 0.198 seconds. Corey’s co-driver in gthe McLaren is IndyCar guy Jesse Lazare. P3 on the grid will be the # 28 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR for RennSport 1, thanks to Spencer Pumpelly. His co-driver for the race will be Dillon Machavern.

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On pole in GS class - Paul Holton and Matt Plumb for Compass Racing

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In the TCR class the fastest guy on the day after three practices was Tom O’Gorman, thanks to his TOP TIME in the P-3 session in the eEuropartsDotCom Racing # 12 Audi RS3 LMS TCR that he shares with Kenton Koch. Tom was able to better the P-2 session time of Britt Casey Jr. in the Compass Racing # 77 that he shares with Tom Long. Minutes later history repeated itself during qualifying as O’Gorman took pole in the # 12 with a time of 01:29.840s for a speed of 101.780mph, again besting Britt Casey, this time by a healthy .700 seconds. P3 on the grid will be the # 31 Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR for Rumcastle LLC, driven by Tanner & Luke Rumburg. This is Tom O’Gorman’s 5th straight pole in class.

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On pole in the TCR class - Tom O’Gorman & Kenton Koch for eEuropartsDotCom Racing

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Finally, the TOP DAWG after three practices in the ST class was Mat Pombo in the # 73 Mini JCW that he shares with Mike LaMarra, thanks to his P-2 session effort, besting the P-1 session time of Devin Jones in the # 81 BMW 328i for BimmerWorld Racing. But when it came time to qualifying Nick Galante took the # 81 Bimmer to his 6th pole of the season and 5th in a row, with a time of 01:37.191s for a speed of 94.082mph. Nick beat out Nate Norenberg in the # 37 Mini, also for Mini JCW Team, by 0.246 seconds. Nate shares the Mini with Derek Jones. P3 on the grid will be the # 21 Porsche Cayman for Bodymotion Racing, driven by Jason Rabe and qualifier Max Faulkner. Nick Galante and Devin Jones are the class points leaders.

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On pole for the ST class, Nick Galante and Devin Jones for BimmerWorld Racing

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The season finale will be held on Friday in the early afternoon, when all three classes will decide their championships.

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#240

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Thursday at Road Atlanta - The Prototype Challenge series practice and qualify…

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Both classes of the IMSA Prototype Challenge series held a final practice in the morning and then qualified for Friday’s finale in the afternoon. here’s how it all played out:

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In the LMP3 class the best in the P-2 practice session was Indy Lights driver Garett Grist in the # 51 Ligier JS P3 he shares with Rob Hodes for K2R Motorsports, beating out points-leader and Pro Mazda driver Kris Wright in the # 30 Ligier for Extreme Speed Motorsports. When in came time to qualify it was another Pro Mazda alum, TJ Fischer in the Forty 7 Motorsports # 47 Norma M30, that took pole with a time of 01:19.169s for a speed of 115.499mph. TJ shares the car with USF2000 alum Austin McCusker. P2 was again Kris Wright in the car he will co-drive with Nic Jonsson. P3 at the race start will be the other Forty7 Motorsports Norma M30, the #74 driven by Anthony Simone and qualifier Rodrigo Pflucker from Peru.

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On pole in LMP3, TJ Fischer and Austin McCusker for Forty7 Motorsports

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In the MPC class the rabbit in the final practice session was Canadian veteran Michal Chlumecky in the # 31 Elan DP02 for Eurosport Racing and the wily vet held that speed in qualifying, taking the pole with a time of 01:23.041s for a speed of 110.113mph. He beat out another veteran, Dr Robert Masson in the # 11 Elan that he shares with his son, former Champion Kyle Masson. They drive for Performance Tech Motorsports.The deficit was 0.314 seconds. P3 on the grid will be the # 28 Elan for Wolf Motorsports, thanks to USF2000 alum Tazio Ottis. He shares the car with Bart Wolf.

In this class, seven cars are within nine points of the championship lead, with four of those cars within five points! Tomorrow will be THE DAY.

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On pole in MPC class - Michal Chlumecky for Eurosport Racing

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The IPCS will be the first guys on track Friday morning, when both classes will crown champions.

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#241

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Thursday at Road Atlanta - The WetherTech gang hold practice…

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All three classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series held practice today - two in the daytime and one after dark, as the Petit Le Mans will still be running when the Saturday sun goes down. We will separate the P-3 nighttime session from the other two. Let’s start with the two daytime sessions and see who did what in each class:

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In the P class the fastest guy after two sessions was Colin Braun in the # 54 CORE Autosport ORECA 07 P2 that he shares with Jon Bennett and for PTL, Romain Dumas. Currently 2nd in the points, these guys have been on fire, lately. Today Colin’s P-2 time of 01:11.669 seconds beat IndyCar driver Tristan Vautier’s P2 time. Vautier is helping out Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the # 5 Cadillac DPi V.R. for Action Express. The gap was 0.137 seconds. P3 was IndyCar driver Juan Pablo Montoya in the # 6 Acura ARX-05 for Acura Team Penske. His co-drivers are Dane Cameron and IndyCar driver Simon Pagenaud, who is the add for the PTL. Juan’s time was also from P-2.

CORE Autosport on top in the daylight

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In the GTLM class the fastest guy after two sessions was Corvette driver Jan Magnussen in the points-leading # 3 for Corvette Racing. Jan’s P-2 session time was 01:18.300 seconds and he beat out the P-2 time of points-rival Richard Westbrook in the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi by only 0.037 seconds. Co-drivers in the # 3 are Antonio Garcia and PTL add-on Marcel Fassler while “Westy’s” co-drivers are both IndyCar guys - Ryan Briscoe and add-on Scott Dixon, the 2018 IndyCar Champ. 3rd fastest today was the # 66 Ford GT thanks to Dirk Mueller. He and co-driver Joey Hand are getting help from IndyCar driver Sebastien Bourdais this weekend.

The # 3 Corvette - tops in points and practice in the daylight

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In the GTD class the TOP TIME in the daylight was turned in by Christopher Mies driving the # 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Montaplast by Land Motorsport. Chris’ time of 01:20.283s in the P-1 session was better than Jeroen Bleekemolen’s P-2 time in the # 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3 for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports by a mere 0.031 seconds. Co-drivers in the Audi are Sheldon van der Linde and Daniel Morad while Jeroen will share the Mercedes with Ben Keating and PTL add Luca Stolz. P3 for the daylight was the Turner Motorsport # 96 BMW M6 GT3, thanks to Dillon Machavern’s P-2 time. His co-drivers are Don Yount and Markus Palttala.

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GTD hot wagon Audi R8 LMS GT3 for Montaplast by Land

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#242

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Thursday at Road Atlanta - The WeatherTech gang hold practice…(part 2)…

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The P-3 session was the fastest of the 3 sessions, with lower temps that both engines and wings love for maximum abilities. By class:

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In the P class the TOP TIME for the P-3 session and for the day was turned in by France’s Norman Nato in the # 2 Nissan DPi for Extreme Speed Motorsports. Nato is the add for the PTL to regulars Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel. His time of 01:11.457s for a speed of 127.964mph bested the time of teammate and Pro Mazda alum Pipo Derani by 0.090 seconds. Pipo drives the # 22 Nissan and he and co-driver Johannes van Overbeek are coming off the WIN at Laguna Seca. Their add for the PTL is Timo Bernhard. 3rd fastest in the night air was Ricky Taylor in the # 7 Acura ARX-05 for Acura Team Penske. His co-drivers are both IndyCar guys - Helio Castroneves and Petit add Graham Rahal.
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The Tequila Patron ESM Nissan on top in the nighttime.

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The GTLM class rabbit of the evening, and for the day, was Tommy Milner in the # 4 Corvette for Corvette Racing. His time of 01:17.847s for a speed of 117.460mph beat out his own teammate, Antonio Garcia in the # 3 'Vette by 0.097 seconds. Tommy shares the # 4 with Oliver Gavin and add-on Marcel Fassler. Antonio’s regular co-driver is Jan Magnussen while Marcel Fassler will pull double-duty and help out in the # 3, as well. 3rd-fastest under the lights was IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe in the # 67 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi. His co-driver is Richard Westbrook and they get newly-crowned IndyCar Champ Scott Dixon to help at Road Atlanta.

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Corvettes take the top 2 spots in the night air

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Finally, in the GTD class the TOP TIME for the P-3 session was posted by Brazilian Felipe Fraga in the P1 Motorsports # 71 Mercedes-AMG GT3, with a time of 01:20.452s for a speed of 113.657mph. He beat out Sheldon van der Linde in the Montaplast by Land Motorsport # 29 Audi R8 LMS GT3 by 0.106 seconds. Fraga’s co-drivers are JC Perez and Maximilian Buhk while Sheldon shares the Audi with Christopher Mies and Canadian Daniel Morad. The P3 guys were in the # 14 Lexus RCF GT3 for 3GT Racing thanks to Kyle Marcelli. His regular co-driver is Dominik Baumann while they added Philipp Frommenwiler for Petit Le Mans. Christopher Mies’ P-1 session time (see post # 215) remained the fastest GTD-class time of the day.

The nighttime GTD leaders in the P1 Motorsports Mercedes

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Friday, the WeatherTech gang will hold a final practice just before Noon and then qualify each class, one at a time. Racing on Friday will be the Prototype Challenge finale, the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA finale and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge finale.

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#243

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Friday morning at Road Atlanta - The IPCS take to the track for the last time, this season…

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The IMSA Prototype Challenge series ran their final race of the season, first out on track today, and crowned their champions. The LMP3 class WINNERS of the race were USF2000 alum Austin McCusker, driving at the end, with pole-sitter and and Pro Mazda alum TJ Fischer, driving the # 47 Norma M30 for Forty7 Motorsports. This, the 2nd WIN of the season for the # 47, gave McCusker the Vice-Championship for the season in the LMP3 class. Coming home P2 in the race were Nic Jonsson and Pro Mazda driver Kris Wright in the # 30 Ligier JS P3 for Extreme Speed Motorsports. The spot gives Wright the 2018 Championship title in the LMP3 class. The last spot on the podium went to the # 40 Polestar Motor Racing Ligier JS P3 of Keith Grant and David Grant, the duo’s best finish of the season
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IndyCar guys TJ Fischer (left) and Austin McCusker celebrate the WIN in Parc Ferme

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The 2018 LMP3 Champion, Kris Wright - another IndyCar guy!

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In the MPC class the WINNER was veteran Jon Brownson in the # 34 Eurosport Racing Elan DP02 and with it, Jon takes the 2018 title - the last one for the class, which is being retired. Coming in P2 was USF2000 alum Tazio Ottis in the # 28 Elan for Wolf Motorsports who, along with co-driver Bart Wolf, also takes the Vice-Championship in the series. Stephen Dawes rounded out the podium in P3 in the # 22 Performance Tech Motorsports Elan to also finish third in the standings for the year.

Brownson started in the first race for the series in 2006, when the Elan DP02 was the top class car of the series. Said he of this WIN and title, “It’s a wonderful way to end the season and see this car out. Dare I call it an honor. Thanks to my crew and Eurosport Racing. We had a car that was just ready to go this morning and I was fortunate to be the guy driving it. It was a great race and it’s so good to go out on a high note with the MPC car today. I started in the first race of the series back when they were just introducing the MPC and to win today is very special.

“I look forward to moving up to the LMP3 next year and take on the challenges that presents.”

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Race WINNER and Champion Jon Brownson.

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Friday morning at Road Atlanta - the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA hold Race 2 of the weekend…

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…and Canadian Cup Champion Zacharie Robichon WON from pole - his 7th WIN of his 8 starts at the end of the season, driving as a sub for Will Hardeman in the # 19 for Moorespeed. That makes a total of 18 WINS in Porsche Cup cars for the ace from Montreal in 2018. P2 at the end - doing all he could to take the title - was young Roman de Angelis driving for Kelly-Moss Road & Race. It wasn’t enough, however, because IndyCar guy Trenton Estep took P3 in the race from a P5 start and that was more than enough for the driver of the # 3 for JDX Racing to take the 2018 Cup USA title.

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Zacharie Robichon (middle) leads the last field in Porsche Cup USA away…and all the way.

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2018 Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA Champion Trenton Estep and GF Ishana Khetarpal

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Following the race Zacharie Robichon joined the guys from Pfaff Motorsports - including the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge GT Sprint Champion, Scott Hargrove - to make the announcement that Pfaff will be joining the WeatherTech GTD class next season, with Zacharie and fellow Canadian Hargrove as drivers of a Porsche 911 GT3 R for the 7 sprint races on the calendar.

Scott Hargrove is a former Mazda Road to Indy superstar driver who was the Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge Canada Champion in 2017, beating out…wait for it…Zacharie Robichon. The pair are two of the best young Porsche drivers in the world and their teaming will be a great nuisance to everyone else on the grid.

They shall strike fear in 2019 - Scott Hargrove (left) and Zacharie Robichon

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Friday at Road Atlanta - The CTSC race and crown their champions…

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The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge held the Fox Factory 120 today and finished out their season, crowning champions in all three classes.

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In the top Grand Sport class the race WINNERS were James Clay and Tyler Cooke in the # 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4, capturing the car’s first overall North American victory with authority after leading the final 19 laps of the race. P2, some 9 seconds back, were polesitters Paul Holton and Matt Plumb in the # 76 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, while the # 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Bryce Ward and Indy Dontje took third.

Coming home in P11 were Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb in the Team TGM # 46 Mercedes-AMG, and that was enough for the pair to take the GS class Championship for 2018.

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BimmerWorld get their first WIN in GS class today

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2018 GS class Champions for Team TGM, Owen Trinkler (left) and Hugh Plumb

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In the Touring Car class the WINNERS were Tom O’Gorman and Kenton Koch from pole in the # 12 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for eEuropartsDotCom Racing, in their 2nd WIN of the season. Taking P2 were Pro Mazda alum and paraplegic Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson in the # 54 Audi RS3 LMS TCR for JDC-Miller Motorsports from a P4 start. P3 were Tom Long and Britt Casey, Jr. in the # 77 Audi RS3 LMS for Compass Racing, and that was enough for them to secure the TCR class Championship.

The TCR podium - That’s Stephen Simpson & Michael Johnson in P2 on the left, Kenton Koch & Tom O’Gorman in P1 in tne middle and Tom Long & Britt Casey, Jr. in P3 on the right. Casey, Jr. and Long are also the 2018 Champions in class:

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In the Street Tuner class the race WINNERS were Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra in the # 73 Mini JCW for Mini JCW Team. P2 were Max Faulkner and Jason Rabe in the # 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman. P3 were pole-sitters Nick Galante and Devin Jones in the # 81 BMW 328i for BimmerWorld Racing and that was enough to give Galante and Jones the ST class title for 2018.

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The John Cooper Works Mini for the WIN

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The ST class podium - That’s Max Faulkner & Jason Rabe on the left in P2, Mat Pombo & Mike LaMarra in P1 in the middle and Nick Galante & Devin Jones in P3 on the right. Jones and Galante are also the 2018 ST-class Champions for BimmerWorld Racing:

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Friday at Road Atlanta - The WeatherTech Gang hold final practice and qualify for the PTL…

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All three classes of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship series held a final practice in the morning and then qualified for the Petit Le Mans, one class at a time. Here were the results:

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In the P class the rabbit in the final practice session was Oliver Jarvis in the # 77 Mazda RT24P that he shares with Tristan Nunez and Lucas Di Grassi, the PTL add, but when it came time to qualify Pro Mazda alum Pipo Derani was able to beat out Jarvis and take the pole in the # 22 Nissan DPi for Extreme Speed Motorsports, with a time of 01:10.437s for a speed of 129.817mph. That was 0.124 seconds faster that Jarvis in the Mazda. Pipo’s co-drivers are Johannes van Overbeek and PTL add Timo Bernhard. P3 on the grid will be the OTHER Mazda, the # 55, thanks to Jonathan Bomarito, who shares the car with Marino Franchitti and IndyCar driver Spencer Pigot - both added for the Petit Le Mans.

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Pipo on the pole for the last time for ESM.

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In the GTLM class the fastest guy in the final practice was Tommy Milner in the # 4 Corvette for Corvette Racing but during qualifying the BMW M6 GTE of BMW Team RLL took the pole with John Edwards doing the deed with a time of 01:17.006s for a speed of 118.743mph. Co-drivers in the car are Jesse Krohn and Australian Supercars ace Chaz Mostert, who is the add for the PTL. John bested the other 'Vette, the championship-leading # 3 with Antonio Garcia qualifying. Antonio was a mere 0.024 seconds off John on time. Antonio’s co-drivers will be Jan Magnussen and PTL add Marcel Fassler, who is also the add for the # 4 Corvette, pulling double duty. P3 on the grid will be the # 912 Porsche 911 RSR thanks to Kiwi Earl Bamber. His co-drivers are Laurens Vanthoor and Frenchman Mathieu Jaminet who is the Petit add for the race.

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John Edwards steals a pole from the Corvettes.

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Finally, the TOP DAWG from the final practice in the GTD class was Sheldon van der Linde in the # 29 Montaplast by Land Motorsport Audi R8 LMS GT3 but in qualifying it was Daniel Serra in the # 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa who jumped to the pole with a time of 01:19.695s for a speed of 114.737mph. Daniel’s co-drivers are Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette. Daniel bested IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth in the # 15 Lexus RCF GT3 for 3GT Racing by a teensy 0.037 seconds. Jack’s co-drivers are David Heinemeier Hansson and the PTL add, Indy Lights driver Sean Rayhall - a stout squad. Sheldon van der Linde was able to get the # 29 Audi into P3 for the start of the race. His co-drivers in the car will be Daniel Morad and Christopher Mies - another strong squad.

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Daniel Serra puts a Ferrari on the pole for the Petit Le Mans

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The Saturday race will be in great weather and is scheduled for a start at 11:05am EASTERN time and will run until 9:05pm EASTERN time. Broadcast will be on Fox Sports 1 from 10:30am to 12:00pm EASTERN time, then on Fox Sports 2 from 12:00pm to 9:30pm EASTERN time.

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The Motul Petit Le Mans - the overall WIN was decided on the last two corners of the race!..

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…as leader Filipe Albuquerque sputtered, out of fuel in the # 5 Cadillac for Action Express on the final lap, virtually in sight of the finish line, and Renger van der Zande in the # 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac for Wayne Taylor Racing blew by with just enough fuel himself to cross the line P1 in the P class and overall. Able to collect P2 was Oliver Gavin in the # 77 Mazda RT24P while teammate and IndyCar driver Spencer Pigot took P3 in the # 55 Mazda. Albuquerque was then able to roll across the line for P4.

Van der Zande’s co-drivers in the race were Jordan Taylor and IndyCar driver Ryan Hunter-Reay. Oli Gavin’s co-drivers were Tristan Nunez and Lucas Di Grassi and Spencer Pigot’s co-drivers were Jonathan Bomarito and Marino Franchitti.

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P class and overall WINNERS (left to right) Renger van der Zande, Jordan Taylor and Ryan Hunter-Reay…

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…and their mount, with Renger on board, the # 10 Cadillac for Wayne Taylor Racing

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In the GTLM class the WINNERS were the pilots of the # 911 Porsche 911 RSR Nick Tandy, Patrick Pilet and Freddie Makowiecki, with Nick bringing it home. P2 were the # 4 Corvette Racing squad, Tommy Milner, Oliver Gavin and Marcel Fassler, with Tommy in the car at the end. P3 was the # 24 BMW M8 GTE for BMW Team RLL of John Edwards, Jesse Krohn and Chaz Mostert with John in the car for the final stint.

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The GTLM class WINNING car, the # 911

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In the GTD class the race was WON by the guys in the # 63 Ferrari 488 GT3 for Scuderia Corsa, Daniel Serra, Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeanette, with Serra driving at the end. P2 was the Meyer Shank Racing # 86 Acura NSX GT3 driven by IndyCar driver Katherine Legge, Trent Hindman and Alvaro Parente, with Alvaro bringing it home. P3 was the # 48 Lamborghini Huracan for Paul Miller Racing driven by Bryan Sellers, Madison Snow and Corey Lewis, with Bryan coming in across the line.

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The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari for the WIN

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The Motul Petit Le Mans - the overall WIN was decided on the last two corners of the race!..(part 2)…

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With those results the WeatherTech series championships on each class were decided, as were the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup champions in each class:

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The 2018 P class Champions are Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran, driving the # 31 Cadillac DPi V.R. for Action Express due to their P8 finish in the race. They were aided this day by IndyCar driver Gabby Chaves. While their rivals, Jon Bennett and Colin Braun drove the # 54 ORECA for CORE Autosport to a P7 finish, that did not get them enough points to take the title from Nasr and Curran.

Curran and Nasr were ALSO the 2018 Tequila Patron North American Endurance Cup Champions in the P class.

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the 2018 WeatherTech P class Champions and 2018 TPNAEC Champions, the # 31 Caddy

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The 2018 GTLM class Champions were Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, due to their P8 finish in class in the # 3 Corvette for Corvette Racing, as that was enough to beat the # 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Ford GT guys, IndyCar driver Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook, despite their P5 finish - not high enough to take the title away from the 'Vette guys. Jan and Antonio were helped by Marcel Fassler today. This is the 2nd title in a row for Magnussen and Garcia, but this one was for consistency, as they won no races this season.

The TPNAEC title in GTLM class went to Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand in the # 66 Ford GT for Ford Chip Ganassi - by 1 point over the # 911 guys, Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy.

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The 2018 WetherTech title-winning GTLM class car, the # 3 Corvette C7.R.

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The WINNERS of the 2018 GTD class title were Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow for Paul Miller Racing, bringing their # 48 Lamborghini Huracan home P3 today, with the help of Corey Lewis. They beat out IndyCar driver Katherine Legge, who finished ahead of them in P2 today in the Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, with Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman helping out, but that wasn’t enough points to top Snow and Sellers for the season.

The TPNAEC 2018 GTD class title guys were Ben Keating, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Luca Stolz in the # 33 Mercedes-AMG for Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports.

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The 2018 GTD class WeatherTech Championship car, the # 48 Lambo for Paul Miller Racing

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That’s it for the 2018 season of the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. As usual, IndyCar guys were a factor right up to the final event and even the final WIN of the season. The series is planning a big event this November 9-11th, called the Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore, but details are still wanting. In any case it is a non-points event. When we get more, we will let you know.

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Pippa’s on the move!..(part 7)…

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We took the time to cover the Petit Le Mans and in the doing we left poor Pippa Mann and husband Robert Gue in the air between Chile and Peru, (see post # 206) so let’s let them land in Peru and finish up their 2018 vacation.

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The couple landed in Cusco, Peru late in the evening and went right to sleep for a 4:00am wake-up call…

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…so they could visit Machu Picchu!..the fabulous ancient city nestled in the Peruvian Andes

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continued…

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