No. 845,
May 4, 2016

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The Line


MAY 4, 2016

(John Thawley  ~  Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Ozz Negri and John Pew (No. 60 Honda Ligier JS P2) teamed to give Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian its first IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory, winning Sunday’s Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda at Laguna Seca (Mazda Raceway). 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. “It feels like a curse has been lifted,” Pew said. “We’ve been on the podium a few times but not on the top step for a while. The team made a great strategy call. Ozz doesn’t stop thinking about our car 24/7. He called our engineer late last night and said ‘Let’s try this.’ It was a lot about saving tires. It was Ozz’s fault that we won.” The Mazda Motorsports prototypes had a strong weekend, at least for a while. The team ran 1-2 in all three practice sessions, qualified both cars on the front row and then ran 1-2 throughout the opening half hour of the race. TOTAL Pole Award winner Tristan Nunez (No. 55 ModSpace Mazda Prototype) led the opening 25 laps, followed closely by Tom Long (No. 70 Mazda Prototype). But they faded at the end due to an assortment of issues, with the No. 55 car eventually finishing fourth. Marc Goosens/Ryan Dalziel (No. 90 Visit Florida Racing Corvette DP) finished second, 30.099 behind Negri but only 0.855 seconds ahead of Eric Curran/Dane Cameron (No. 31 Whelen Engineering/Team Fox Corvette DP) in third. Check out more scintillating images by John Thawley from Laguna Seca here.

(John Thawley  ~  Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe (No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) delivered the first GTLM class win for the factory Ford GT program in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix at Laguna Seca. Westbrook and Briscoe used speed and a fuel economy strategy to earn the victory. After a slow first pit stop/driver change when the car got stuck in first gear, Westbrook rejoined the field in sixth. With the loss of track position, the team elected to conserve fuel. “[The pit stop] cost us five or six seconds and five or six positions, and you aren’t going to drive it to the front from that position,” Westbrook said. “So that’s what you get when you race with Chip Ganassi, you get out of the box solutions.” Westbrook worked his way up to second in the running order, behind teammate Joey Hand in the No. 66 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT, as the other GTLM class competitors made their final pit stops. Westbrook passed Hand for the class lead with fifteen minutes to go. And with six minutes to go, Hand pitted for a splash of fuel, dropping him back to an eventual sixth-place finish. The fuel conservation strategy worked, as Westbrook went on to win by 12.545 seconds over Daniel Serra/Alessandro Pier Guidi (No. 68 Ferrari GTE). It was Westbrook’s ninth career victory in major U.S. sports car racing and his third at Laguna Seca. It was the 12th major U.S. sports car win for Briscoe. “It’s just so exciting,” Briscoe said. “It’s been a tough few months getting this program running. These guys have been working so hard. We’ve struggled with battles. We struggled a bit with balance but figured it out. We just missed the pole, and to get the win for Ford is huge. It means a lot for me and the whole program.” Frederic Makowiecki and Earl Bamber (No. 912 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR) finished third in class.

(John Thawley  ~  Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
It was a huge weekend for the Ford GT team.

(John Thawley  ~  Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
Tom Kimber-Smith (No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Robert Alon) survived a late-race charge by Renger van der Zande (No. 8 Starworks Motorsport ORECA FLM09 co-driven by Alex Popow) 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 by 1.736 seconds. Jon Bennett and Colin Braun (No. 54 CORE autosport ORECA) finished third. 

(John Thawley  ~  Motorsports Photography @  ~ 248.227.0110)
TOTAL Pole Award winner Alex Riberas (No. 23 Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Heart of Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R) led the first half of Sunday’s two-hour GTD race at Laguna Seca before handing his Porsche over to co-driver Mario Farnbacher, and the duo never lost the lead winning by 3.632 seconds over the Alessandro Balzan/Christina Nielsen (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3). “I have to say the guys did a fantastic job,” Riberas said. “Everyone from AJR and Porsche. Through Free Practice 1, Free Practice 2 and Free Practice 3, Qualifying, all P1. Then, during the race, P1 and the fastest lap. It shows Porsche had a very fast car here at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca. It is my first time here and I have to say this is probably my favorite race track now.” It was the 59th victory in major U.S. sports car competition for Alex Job Racing. Brandon Davis and James Davison (No. 007 LaSalle Solutions Aston Martin Vantage GT3) finished third in GTD. The next WeatherTech Championship round for the GTD class is the 100-minute Chevrolet Sports Car Classic presented by Metro Detroit Chevy Dealers at Detroit’s Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 4. That race also will include the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes and will be televised live on FS1 beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET.

Nico Rosberg (No. 6 AMG Petronas Mercedes) easily won the Russian GP in Sochi to extend his championship lead to 43 points over Lewis Hamilton (No. 44 AMG Petronas Mercedes), who recovered from starting 10th on the grid following more unreliability problems in qualifying to take second place. Kimi Raikkonen (No. 7 Scuderia Ferrari) finished third.

(Ford Performance)
Brad Keselowski (No. 2 Team Penske Miller Lite Ford Fusion) won the GEICO 500 crash-fest at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, his fourth win at the infamous 2.66-mile track. Kyle Busch (No. 18 Joe Gibbs Racing Skittles Marvel Toyota Camry) was second and Austin Dillon (No. 3 Richard Childress Racing Dow - Energy & Water/Intellifresh Chevrolet SS) finished third. How stupid was it? 33 of the 40 cars that started the race were involved in wrecks. Get a glimpse of the madness here. And read Peter's comments about Talladega in "Fumes" -WG


Editor's Note: Ford has just released “The Cutting Edge” - the second of five chapters in “The Return,” which is a long-form documentary that follows the development of both the street car and race car versions of the Ford GT from the decision to build the cars to the return to the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Watch chapter one, "The Decision," here. (FYI: The Autoextremist makes a cameo appearance in chapter one.) -WG