2017 IMSA Canadian Tire Motorsport Park - Race Report
Cadillac beats Nissan and Mazda to the finish line!by Michael Fira, on
It’s barely been a week since the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, and IMSA was back at it this Sunday with the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix at CTMP, a race that over-delivered, as many do in the series, this time with the aid of Mother Nature. Mosport, as it was known some 50 years ago when it first welcomed the Canadian Formula 1 Grand Prix, is now the host of the annual trip that IMSA makes north of the border to Bowmanville, Ontario. All classes, P, PC, GT-LM and GT-D, took part in the 160-minute-long race for which mostly dry weather was forecasted “Watch out later on for that mostly!“
The weekend got going with practice where, again, prototypes showed their speed, namely the JDC-Miller ORECA which came tantalizingly close to a win at Watkins Glen. In spite of all that, it was business as usual in qualifying, Wayne Taylor Racing getting their third pole of the 2017 season thanks to Ricky Taylor’s storming 1:08.459 which was 0,128-seconds quicker than the best that Misha Goikhberg could do in the No. 85 ORECA. ESM’s Nissan-Ligiers were third and fourth filling up row 2 with Jonathan Bomarito fifth in Mazda’s No. 55 car, ahead of the winners last time out, Barbosa and Fittipaldi. The No. 31 Curran/Cameron Whelen-sponsored Cadillac performed even worse, so the duo was looking to rebound in the race after an ill-fortuned trip to New York last weekend.
Continue reading for the full story.
Down in Prototype Challenge, Performance Tech’s sterling run of poles continued with James French’s fifth pole.
Down in Prototype Challenge, Performance Tech’s sterling run of poles continued with James French’s fifth pole, this time by a healthy 1.723-seconds margin over the BAR1 crews. Things were much more open in GT-LM where Porsche and BMW fought for pole. Finally, it was Dirk Werner who gave Porsche their first pole ever with the mid-engined 991 GTE, the ex-BMW man reeling in a 1:14.085 that demoted Bill Auberlen to second for just 0.018-seconds.
Porsche’s No. 912 car was close behind and qualified third ahead of the BMW No. 24 and the two Fords, Corvette Racing again rounding up the GT-LM class. It was another first in GT-D as Sage Karam gave a turnaround to Lexus’ weekend by going quickest in qualifying in the No. 14 RC-F – a 1:16.563. It came after Jack Hawksowrth smashed the other Team 3GT car in practice. Stevenson’s lone R8 was second ahead of Jeff Segal in the No. 86 Acura, a Lamborghini and the only Ferrari rounding up the Top Five in the ultra-competitive junior GT class.
Ricky Taylor was quick as the green flag danced in the air to signal the start of the race.
Ricky Taylor was quick as the green flag danced in the air to signal the start of the race and, benefitting from the inside line, kept his lead against the No. 85 ORECA of Misha Goikhberg. The latter, though, had more downforce on his wagon and was able to stick to the tail of the No. 10 Konica Minolta-sponsored Cadillac. This means that the two were in close quarters a few laps in as they started lapping the GT-D cars. The two Ligier Nissans and the Mazdas were never too far behind either while VisitFlorida.com Racing’s day was again horrible. The No. 90 Riley had electrical gremlins with but a few minutes gone from the grand total of 160. They were in and out of the pits and, most likely, made Troy Flis more eager to switch chassis come 2018.
Goikhberg was in for a double stint and, with the Cadillac stopping at virtually the same time, the gap remained small – although Wayne Taylor’s crew was moving quicker on pit lane. This meant that, around half distance, Misha managed to pass Taylor after putting a wheel on the dirt and squeezed the Cadillac against the slower GT traffic, boxing it. The switch made things very interesting for the final stages but it would get even better than expected.
With less little over an hour left, rain started falling, gaining momentum around the back half of the track.
With less little over an hour left, rain started falling, gaining momentum around the back half of the track. It happened almost at the same time as the retirement of the No. 22 Ligier Nissan, Pipo Derani again being let down by the engine. The retirement prompted the first caution period and now it was the time for gambling: the choice between either staying on slicks – and struggling on the second sector mainly – or switching for wet weather rubber and hoping it won’t dry out too quickly.
Speedsource Mazda initially called for split strategy, putting one car on wets and keeping the other on slicks. However, the No. 70’s driver complained of aquaplaning and was later brought in to change compounds as well. This proved to be the undoing for the team as the winners were those that remained on slicks – the three Cadillacs. The ORECA No. 85, the surviving Nissan ESM and the Ligier also put wets on.
By staying on track, the Cadillacs had track position on their side and ran 1-2-3 at the restart.
By staying on track, the Cadillacs had track position on their side and ran 1-2-3 at the restart. JDC-Miller’s Stephen Simpson, who took over from Goikhberg, ran quicker for the first half a dozen or so laps but then started losing out to Taylor. This meant that he had to come back to take slicks which eliminated any chances of victory for the yellow prototype. In spite of all this, a complete podium lockdown by Cadillac wasn’t in the cards either.
With 22 minutes left to go – while enjoying a 25-seconds lead – Jordan Taylor tried a hairy move between three slower GT cars. He clipped the front left corner of Tommy Milner’s No. 4 Corvette and the two cars went into the tire wall on the outside of Turn 5. While Milner’s Corvette was out on spot with heavy left front damage, Taylor continued, albeit with a dangling rear section.
By the time Jordan had rejoined the field, with a new rear deck in place, he was two laps down in seventh overall.
The crash of the better placed of the C7.Rs called for the second appearance of the safety car. Taylor remained on track, tippy toeing in the damaged No. 10 Cadillac DPi. Only after the safety car had come in was the pit lane re opened and Taylor come in. This left the road clear for the No. 31 Whelen Cadillac and, behind, Barbosa spun after punting the side of Simpson’s JDC-Miller ORECA. This meant that Ryan Dalziel was up on the podium in the No. 2 ESM car after passing Tristan Nunez.
By the time Jordan had rejoined the field, with a new rear deck in place, he was two laps down in seventh overall. But that wasn’t the last twist of this race’s tale for, with barely any minutes left on the clock, rain started to fall again and it caught out David Ostella who all but destroyed PR1/Mathiasen Motorsport’s Ligier No. 52 after crashing it hard, the prototype ending the day on its roof. Thankfully, Ostella, just like Milner before him, was unharmed. The incident, though, ended the race under caution and it was the No. 31 which finished first – the last of the Cadillacs without a win to its name in 2017 – the No. 85 second and the No. 2 completing the podium (despite a spin) ahead of the two Mazdas which, with a better strategy, would’ve been on the podium.
Prototype Class Top 5 Results
|1||31||Cameron/Curran||Whelen Engineering Racing||Cadillac DPi||122|
|2||85||Goikhberg/Simpson||JDC-Miller Motorsports||ORECA LMP2||122|
|3||2||Sharp/Dalziel||Tequila Patron ESM||Nissan DPi||122|
|4||55||Nunez/Bomarito||Mazda Motorsports||Mazda DPi||122|
|5||70||Long/Miller||Mazda Motorsport||Mazda DPi||122|
Not even debris on track can stop Performance Tech’s perfect season.
Not even debris on track can stop Performance Tech’s perfect season. That’s the only conclusion that can be drawn after last Sunday’s CTMP race. The No. 38 ORECA FLM 09 led, as per usual, only to be derailed after hitting a tire carcass on the back straight. The debris damaged the left front and Pat O’Ward had to come into the pits immediately. It happened around half distance and it benefitted Ryan Lewis in the No. 20 BAR1 entry who took the lead.
O’Ward re-took the lead during the hectic first rain episode of the day and went on to win – for the sixth time this year.
Prototype Challenge Class Results
|1||38||French/O’Ward||Performance Tech Motorsports||ORECA FLM09||117|
|2||20||Yount/Lewis||BAR1 Motorsports||ORECA FLM09||116|
|3||26||Vance /Grist||BAR1 Motorsports||ORECA FLM09||113|
BMW reigned supreme in GT-LM again.
BMW reigned supreme in GT-LM again. And again it was all about the No. 25 of Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims. The former took over the lead at the start, passing Dirk Werner’s No. 911 Porsche which had started from P1. That car and the other Porsche were the only opposition for the Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing BMW M6s. But their efforts weren’t awarded as, again, Gianmaria Bruni suffered a puncture in the No. 912.
Werner’s car, which was then taken over by Pilet, was more fortunate and was in the hunt, being sandwiched by the two BMWs after the last restart with 10 minutes left on the clock. He though, pitted right away and stepped out of the car, Porsche North-America reporting an engine malfunction. This left BMW to march towards a first-in-2017 1-2 finish which puts Sims and Auberlen in championship contention.
The last caution was caused by a GT-LM contender, as previously mentioned. That car, the No. 4 Corvette, was actually the better placed of the two Velocity Yellow Machines and would have probably picked up a podium had it not crashed. As it happened, it was Ford’s No. 67 which collected a podium after a not-so-stellar run for Westbrook & Co. Corvette’s other car finished fourth – both American brands down on performance (BoP?) this time around.
GT-LM Class Results
|1||25||Auberlen/Sims||BMW Team RLL||BMW M6 GTLM||117|
|2||24||Edwards/Tomaczyk||BMW Team RLL||BMW M6 GTLM||117|
|3||67||Briscoe/Westbrook||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||117|
|4||3||Magnussen/Garcia||Corvette Racing||Chevrolet Corvette C7.R||117|
|5||66||Mueller/Hand||Ford Chip Ganassi Racing||Ford GT||117|
Sage Karam converted his pole into an early lead as the Lexus showed convincing pace in the first part of the sprint event.
Sage Karam converted his pole into an early lead as the Lexus showed convincing pace in the first part of the sprint event. It wasn’t to be, however, for the 3GT Racing crew as Karam’s car received two penalties for pit lane infringements that put them out of the hunt. It, though, elevated the Stevenson Audi, as well as the 1-2 finishers at Watkins Glen: Acura & Ferrari.
This time, no ill-fortune struck the team and, after winning the CTSCC race in their GT4-spec Camaro, Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis delivered the win, ahead of both Andy Lally and Alessandro Balzan – him and Christina Nielsen still keeping the lead in this category.
The topsy-turvy Canadian round has surely heated things up in the standing in three of the four classes. It brought BMW to the fore in GT-LM, it has shrunk the lead of brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor in the Prototype division and it made things even tighter in GT-D between the No. 93 Acura and the No. 63 Ferrari.
This means that, when IMSA Weathertech Sports Car Championship action returns, in two-weeks-time at Limerock Park, it’s going to be very hotly contested indeed!
GT-D Class Results
|1||57||Aschenbach/Davis||Stevenson Motorsports||Audi R8 LMS GT3||114|
|2||93||Lally/Legge||Michael Shank Racing||Acura NSX GT3||114|
|3||63||Nielsen/Balzan||Scuderia Corsa||Ferrari 488 GT3||114|
|4||96||Curtis/Klingmann||Turner Motorsport||BMW M6 GT3||114|
|5||14||Pruett/Karam||3GT Racing||Lexus RCF GT3||114|
You can find the full results from Mosport here.