Fuel Strategies Play Big Role in Results at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca with Split Race WeatherTech Format.
May 5, 2016

[VIEW FULL GALLERY]Congratulations to Ozz Negri and John Pew in the Prototype class. The Michael Shank Racing team combined stellar pit work and late-race speed to give the No. 60 Curb-Agajanian Honda Ligier JS P2 its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory, with the win in Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Negri led all but five of the final 31 laps on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile circuit to give the team its first triumph since winning the 2012 Rolex 24 At Daytona.

The No. 67 Ford GT, just four races into its heralded program in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship,  saw Chip Ganassi Racing co-drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe earn a breakthrough GT Le Mans (GTLM) class victory in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca.

Westbrook conserved enough fuel saving the team a pit stop, going on to score the win by 12.545 seconds over Alessandro Pier Guidi in the No. 68 Ferrari. It was Westbrook’s ninth career victory in major U.S. sports car racing and his third at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, and was the 12th major U.S. sports car win for Briscoe.

And in Sunday’s two-hour Prototype Challenge (PC)/GTD race at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at least, it truly was a Porsche track. Riberas quickly pulled out into the lead in the No. 23 Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R for Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing and stayed there throughout his hour-long driving stint.

After winning the GT Daytona (GTD) class TOTAL Pole Award on Saturday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Alex Riberas said, “Everybody tells me this is a Porsche track.”

Co-driver Mario Farnbacher made it more of the same through the second half of the race, as the No. 23 Porsche led every lap en route to its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory of the season. Farnbacher finished 3.632 seconds ahead of Alessandro Balzan in the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3.
It was the second WeatherTech Championship victory for Riberas and his first since co-driving with Farnbacher and Ian James to the GTD victory in the 2015 Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida.

Tom Kimber-Smith survived a late-race charge by Renger van der Zande and held on to win Sunday’s two-hour Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes.

Kimber-Smith took the lead on a pit stop under caution with one hour remaining, and officially held it the rest of the way in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 started from the pole by Robert Alon. However, he had a scare with seven minutes remaining, when van der Zande briefly nosed the No. 8 Starworks Motorsport entry into the lead while racing in traffic in Turn 4. Kimber-Smith held his line and quickly regained the advantage into the next turn, and went on to win by 1.736 seconds.

Article originally appeared on Sports Car Insider | No Nonsense Sports Car Enthusiasm (http://sportscarinsider.com/).
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