You guessed it, Cadillac scored yet another win!

COTA welcomed IMSA’s different breeds of racing cars with hotter-than-expected conditions but, through it all, the end result was the same as at the first three venues of the season. The cliché question of "who can stop the Taylors?" is, maybe, on everyone’s minds now.

The Weathertech Championship was the headliner event last weekend at the Circuit of the Americas, which was because it was the first time it didn’t share the weekend with the FIA World Endurance Championship in what was known as the "Lone Star Le Mans". The series proved it could headline on North America’s only F1 track as on-track action kept everyone on their toes despite the déjà vu result after the near three-hour-long race.

The Qualifiers

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After not running much in the third practice session, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor laid down an amazing 1:54.809.

After not running much in the third practice session, Wayne Taylor Racing’s Ricky Taylor got in the zone for qualifying and laid down an amazing 1:54.809, a whole 1.6 seconds quicker than Johannes Van Overbeek’s best lap in the No. 22 ESM-entered Nissan-powered prototype. It was so fast that the gap between P2 and P10 in the Prototype class was smaller than that between P1 and P2. Ricky said, almost relaxed, that it all came down to better maneuverability in the twisty parts of the 3.4-mile-long road course. The quickest P2 car of the bunch was over two seconds away from the pole.

James French took pole in the Prototype Challenge class, beating his peers by over two seconds and coming tantalizingly close to going under two minutes a lap. His time, 2:00.066, was still a class record at COTA and signed off a good day for the Performance Tech crew. BAR1’s two ORECA FLMs followed, Stefan Wilson managing a 2:03.026 while Don Yount could go no quicker than 2:04.264.

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The GT-LM polesitter might come as a surprise for you as it wasn’t a Ford Ferrari or Corvette driver. It was, in fact, BMW’s John Edwards.

The GT-LM polesitter might come as a surprise for you as it wasn’t a Ford, Ferrari, or Corvette driver. It was, in fact, BMW’s John Edwards who put down a 2:02.833, with his No. 25 M6 narrowly beating the 488 GTE of Giancarlo Fisichella who managed a 2:02:865. Edwards’ teammate, Alex Sims, put the No. 25 RLL-entered car on third with a 2:02.990. The top seven in class were separated by less than 0.2 of a second.

Mathieu Jaminet was first in GTD, his Alegra Motorsports-prepared Porsche 991 GT3-R lapping the Texan track in 2:06.531. Jack Hawksworth was second for Lexus, followed by Madison Snow’s Paul Miller Racing Huracan and Corey Lewis in another Lamborghini.

Prototype Class

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The No. 10 Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac Dpi got off to a good start but, behind it, there was a bit of a melee going through Turn 1. Giancarlo Fisichella chose a wide line as he tried to make up positions but, on the exit of the corner, he was clipped by the No. 67 Ryan Briscoe-driven Ford and, as a result, turned in the No. 4 Corvette and the No. 912 Porsche of Wolf Henzler. The other works Ford was also involved and picked up some minor damage, but the Ferrari wasn’t that lucky, again retiring during the first lap.

Taylor was able to get away from Van Overbeek who, in turn, was being reeled in by Eric Curran. The two fought over P2 before the Patron-sponsored Nissan-Ligier was hit in the side by the SunEnergy1 Mercedes of Kenny Abdul on lap 14. The damage meant the car was out of the fight and Curran moved up a spot. With the first round of stops in sight, the order was about to change at the sharp end. The two Action Express Cadillacs switched places, but WTR’s car remained at the sharp end.

Cameron could do little about Taylor who made a quick getaway and went on to win for the fourth consecutive time in 2017. Barbosa finished third to complete a full podium lockdown for GM.

Jerome Mul became stationary with one hour and 45 minutes left of the two-and-a-half-hours-long race to bring the first full course caution. It lasted for about 15 minutes, but the No. 10 car had a good restart and managed to keep the lead. Ricky then dived into the pits with an hour to go and left the car to his brother, Jordan. AXR’s bid for victory was cut short after Joao Barbosa ran out of fuel at pit entry which meant that the crew had to push him to his slot. This prompted Dane Cameron’s No. 31 back up to P2 and Ryan Dalziel’s No. 2 up to P3 on a day when the Nissan DPis ran neatly.

Jordan was able to build up a ten-second gap after taking over the car, but his advantage disappeared with merely 10 minutes left when Dalziel’s engine let go in a puff of smoke and flames. The track workers put out the flames and cleared the track quickly so it all came down to a five-minute dash to the flag, as it’s often been the case in IMSA competition in the past three years. But, Cameron could do little about Taylor who made a quick getaway after the restart and went on to win for the fourth consecutive time in 2017. Joao Barbosa finished third in the No. 5 Cadillac to complete a full podium lockdown for GM, Stephen Simpson coming home fourth in the No. 85 JDC/Miller car which was the highest finishing P2 car. Mazda’s day in Texas was forgettable with electrical problems hampering down the two Riley/Multimatic-built cars which lacked the pace anyway.

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Top 5 Results

Pos Overall No Drivers Team Vehicle Laps
1 1 10 Taylor/Taylor Konica Minolta Cadillac Cadillac DPi 73
2 2 31 Cameron/Curran Whelan Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi 73
3 3 5 Barbosa/Fittipaldi Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi 73
4 4 85 Goikhberg/Simpson JCD-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 73
5 5 22 Brown/van Overbeek Tequila Patron ESM Nissan DPi 72

Prototype Challenge Class

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Stefan Wilson led early on in Prototype Challenge and, despite fighting it out against James French, it was the No. 38 car that claimed class honours after completing 72 laps. The two cars did, however, exchange positions no less than three times across the length of the event and they were the only ORECA FLMs to actually cross the finish line after the No. 20 Yount/Rice car retired on lap 52. Quite a dismal final visit for the ORECAS at COTA.

Results

Pos Overall No Drivers Team Vehicle Laps
1 6 38 French/O’Ward Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA FLM09 72
2 9 26 Wilson/Boulle BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 71
3 32 20 Yount/Rice BAR1 Motorsports ORECA FLM09 52

GT-LM Class

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Corvette Racing’s win was made that much more impressive after the team had to battle a fire in practice and an average qualifying session.

There wasn’t anything dismal in GT-LM, however, as after the complicated incident in Turn 1, it was all about four crews that could take the victory. At the end of lap 1, it was BMW 1-2 with Edwards leading from Sims and Patrick Pilet. He went on to pass both M6s before giving the car over to team-mate Dirk Werner. Clever strategy and luck, however, had their say and it all went the way of Corvette Racing, who was running fourth after one lap of COTA. The Velocity Yellow Corvette made its first stop before the second caution period which gave Antonio Garcia track position since his three rivals all stopped later, during the caution.

From then on, Garcia only needed to stop once more while the two BMWs and the unscathed Porsche all stopped twice in the remaining time. Bill Auberlen came out in front in the No. 25 car which kept ahead of the sister No. 24 after the final stop when Sims got behind the wheel again. On much fresher rubber, he more than halved Garcia’s advantage and was further aided by the final full-course caution. As such, after the last restart, Garcia only enjoyed a four-second lead but time was running out, and it was running out in Corvette Racing’s favor. As it turned out, Sims couldn’t close down quick enough and had to settle for second, a season-best finish for the BMW Team RLL. Edwards and Martin Tomczyk finished third to complete a great weekend for the otherwise ill-fortuned BMW squad. Porsche and the two Fords made up the Top 6. Corvette Racing’s win was made that much more impressive after the team had to battle a fire in practice and an average qualifying that saw the No. 4 C7.R post the sixth quickest lap.

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Top 5 Results

Pos Overall No Drivers Team Vehicle Laps
1 7 3 Magnussen/Garcia Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R 71
2 8 25 Auberlen/Sims BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM 71
3 10 24 Edwards/Tomczyk BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM 71
4 11 911 Pilet/Werner Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR 71
5 12 66 Mueller/Hand Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT 70

GT-D Class

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It was another victory for Mercedes-Benz and another double podium finish for the German brand.

There were no such tactical "masterstrokes’ in GT-D and, because of that, only 10 seconds were between P1 and P4 with 15 minutes to go, so just before the final caution period which bunched everyone back together again. Jeroen Bleekemolen was first at the time after moving up two spots with 60 minutes left to run. He swiftly got by both Bryan Sellers and Daniel Morad, all in one lap.

Morad wasn’t, however, destined for a podium finish and he dropped back in the final 30 minutes, being passed by Scuderia Corsa’s Alessandro Balzan. He would go on to move up to second after the final restart, Sellers being the loser of that before going down one more spot as Tristan Vautier’s SunEnergy1 Mercedes found a door open. It was, thus, another victory for Mercedes-Benz and another double podium finish for the German brand which just seems to be on the edge of a stranglehold over the GT-D category. But I don’t want to be caught speaking too soon...

Top 5 Results

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Pos Overall No Drivers Team Vehicle Laps
1 13 33 Keating/Bleekemolen Riley Motorsports - Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 69
2 14 63 Nielsen/Balzan Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 69
3 15 75 Vautier/Habul SunEnergy1 Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 69
4 16 48 Sellers/Snow Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 69
5 17 96 Curtis/Klingmann Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 69

Complete Results

See the complete race results here.

What’s Next?

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The next IMSA Weathertech Sportscar Championship is scheduled in one month’s time on the Detroit Belle Isle street circuit which will again host the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic. The main question will be, going back to my opening paragraph, if IMSA will try to reel in the other P-class runners to the ever dominant Cadillac. Then again, it looks as if AXR is within reach of its rivals while it is WTR’s flawless execution of races that have set them apart thus far in the season...

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