VIPER WINS GTD AND FINISHES SECOND AND THIRD IN GTLM IN CANADA, BELL AND SWEEDLER RETAIN GTD POINTS LEAD DESPITE PENALTY, MAZDA POSTS SEASON-BEST
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada – It was a wild and crazy day for Motegi Racing wheels teams at the Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix Presented by Hawk Performance Sunday at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
The quick summary:
• The No. 33 Riley Motorsports Dodge SRT Viper GT3-R recorded a stunning GT Daytona class victory with a bold pass for the lead on the next-to-the-last lap.
• The Dodge SRT Viper GTS-Rs enjoyed a second straight double podium finish in GT Le Mans, and only a single incident prevented them from registering their first victory this year.
• The developmental No. 07 Mazda Skyactiv-D Prototype finished a season best sixth.
• Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler retained the GT Daytona points lead despite an incident that cost them 45 seconds in the penalty box.
Jeroen Bleekemolen drove the No. 33 Viper GT3-R he shared with Ben Keating to the GT Daytona victory after making a strong, even bold, pass on the next-to-last lap of the race. In the final 27 minutes of the 2 hour, 45 minute IMSA Tudor United Sportscar Championship race, Bleekemolen made up an 11.4-second deficit. During that closing period, he set the fastest GTD race lap on consecutive laps and made up 3.3 seconds in those two laps alone. Then, in heavy traffic, Bleekemolen passed for the lead.
“Not just first win, but first podium,” Keating said. “We too have had our share of bad luck this season. To a certain extent we were due. We’ve always felt like we had a great car. We’ve been down on top speed but in the sweeping corners of Mosport, it really suits our car.”
Bleekemolen started on the pole and he and Keating battled near the front all day long.
“We had a great race and a great weekend,” Bleekemolen said. “We knew of all the tracks, this was our best bet to win.”
Vipers Double Podium Could Have Been a Win
Kuno Wittmer put the No. 93 Viper on the GL Le Mans pole and was in contention all day for Viper’s first victory of the season. But in heavy traffic about an hour into the race, Wittmer got pushed off track by another car, lost the lead and fell into second place. He had been battling Jan Magnussen’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R, and Magnussen and teammate Antonio Garcia went on to post their fourth straight GT Le Mans victory. Wittmer and Jonathon Bombarito finished second, 11.024 seconds behind.
“It was a good fight with Kuno,” Magnussen said. “He was super fair the whole time. We were driving really hard and taking chances. I felt sorry for him in the end when at the end of the stint he got pushed off by the 56 BMW at the exit of turn 4. I think the BMW was giving him the wrong side instead of having him come around the outside. I feel sorry for him but it was a really good stint.”
Third in GT Le Mans was the No 91 Viper of Dominik Farnbacher and Marc Goossens. It marked the second straight race the Vipers finished second and third.
“First of all, hats off to the entire team,” Wittmer said. “They’ve worked so hard all weekend to get the car on the pole position. Everything was on key. We were about one lap away from pitting when the 56 car got into a situation with us and put us off the track going into turn 5.”
Sweedler Penalized, but Retains GT Daytona Points Lead
Just 30 minutes into the race Bill Sweedler ran into the back of the No. 4 Corvette with his No. 555 AIM Autosport Ferrari 458 Italia in heavy traffic, spun, slowed and continued, dropping from ninth to fifteenth in GT Daytona. Then he received a stop and go penalty plus 45 seconds for “avoidable contact.”
“He said (on the team radio), he had nowhere to go,” said teammate Townsend Bell. “But he was able to get it going and bring the Revco car to the pits.”
They wound up thirteenth but retained the GT Daytona points lead, even if it is smaller than when the day started. Bell and Townsend entered the race with a 15-point lead, and left Canadian Tire Motorsports Park with a three-point over No. 44 Magnus Porsche 911 GT America drivers Andy Lally and John Potter, who finished ninth.
Leh Keen and Cooper MacNeil, drivers of the Motegi Racing wheels-equipped No. 22 WeatherTech/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America, finished fifth and closed to within seven points of the points lead.
Among other Motegi Racing wheels-equipped GT Daytona entries, the No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America of Ian James and Mario Farnbacher finished sixth in class, Patrick Dempsey and Andrew Davis finished eleventh in the No. 27 Dempsey Racing Porsche 911 GT America, and the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 Italia of Phil Westphal and Alessandro Balzan retired with mechanical problems.
Mazda Finishes Season-Best Sixth in Prototypes
The No. 07 SpeedSource Mazda Skyvactiv-D prototype of Joel Miller and Tristan Nunez posted the developmental team’s best finish of the season, sixth. The No. 70 team car of Sylvain Tremblay retired after only 23 laps due to a water pump belt failure.
“We’re making bigger gains every weekend,” Tremblay said. “I can’t say enough about all the hard work. We’re getting closer and closer. We’ll keep banging on it until we get to the top.”