- Track Records and Wins in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, strong ELMS and Michelin Cup showings at Spa in Belgium
MONTEREY, California (September 25, 2017) - Teams using AERO Sustainable Paint Technology stamped their authority around the racing world this weekend, converting the advantages that come with the aero-efficient, light weight, strong outer layer of paint protection into track records and trophies at races all around the world.
Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca played host to both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, with AERO squads proving victorious in both. In fact, AERO teams finished 1-2 in the WeatherTech GTD class while also claiming the victory in GTLM.
After suffering some miserable racing luck through much of 2016, 2017 has seen the BMW RLL Racing squad push to the front. Bill Auberlen and his teammate Alexander Sims had a strong run in Virginia in the AERO-liveried BMW M6 GTLM. But in Monterey it was the No. 24 of John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk leading he way as the duo came back from a first lap spin from contact to win the race.
Underscoring once again how critical the little margins are in the sport, it was just 0.152 seconds that separated first from second after 110 laps of GTLM battle on the 2.238-mile California circuit.
“We were not the fastest car in the race today, but we had a perfect strategy,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “John (Edwards) did an amazing job to save enough fuel to go when he had to. There cannot be much left in the tank. To win here at Laguna Seca, a track I love, is very special. This win is one I know we’ll savor for quite a while.”
“The last time I drove a black-liveried BMW (Z4) at Laguna Seca Lucas (Luhr) and I won by 20 seconds,” said Edwards. “It was spectacular to be able to do it again - this time with Martin (Tomczyk) - in a black-liveried BMW M6. I believe stressful may be the headline today. I had saved enough fuel, but I lost some time behind a prototype car and the Ferrari was right on me in the last corner. Luckily I was just able to hold him off.”
Looking to avoid winning a championship without a race win, the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 broke through for its first triumph of the 2017 season as 2016 champions Christina Nielsen, and Alessandro Balzan combined for a victory over fellow AERO team Michael Shank Racing with Curb/Agajanian.
The win was a perfect Ferrari footnote, with the brand having finished first and second in the 1957 Pebble Beach Sports Car Road Races – the first sports car race held on the newly completed Laguna Seca Raceway located in Monterey, California. Scoring the victory nearly sixty years to the day later, the win extends Balzan and Nielsen’s championship lead to 25 points with one race remaining in the season.
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca/Gibson LMP2 joined the AERO family ahead of the Laguna Seca weekend, with the “yellow submarine” standing out even more with the new AERO paint application. The Goikberg/Simpson combination were able to muscle their way into fourth at the finish as the small squad continues to impress with strong results.
The weekend also played host to a four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge enduro, as Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing shared the driving duties in the No. 75 APR LLC / AERO Sustainable Paint Technology / Pfaff Audi / Audi Genuine Parts / Race Day Foundation Audi S3 to score a track record in qualifying and then a big race victory for their third IMSA podium of the year.
Following up their victory last month at Virginia International Raceway, Sarah Cattaneo and Owen Trinkler combined for a run to third place in their AERO-liveried No. 44 CRG-I Do Borrow Nissan Altima.
On the other side of the world, the European Le Mans and Michelin Le Mans Cup staged races at Spa Francorchamps. The Belgian circuit is widely recognized as one of the best in the world, and the Formula 1-grade circuit was also the stage for strong runs from AERO teams.
United Autosports was in action in both events, with the team growing its European Le Mans LMP3 Championship points lead thanks to a battling third position by American duo John Falb and Sean Rayhall in Belgium. Filipe Albuquerque, Will Owen and Hugo de Sadeleer achieved a hard-earned fourth position in the Four Hours of Spa-Francorchamps – just 17 seconds behind the winning car– and remain second in the standings – now 18 points down on the leaders but still in the championship battle.
The Michelin Le Mans Cup saw a strong seventh place run in qualifying from United Autosports driver Jim McGuire, as he partnered with Matt Bell to come home sixth at the finish on the legendary circuit.
“Overall it was a good day in the office,” said McGuire. “I was very pleased with qualifying. The Ligier was fantastic after United found a great set-up. My opening stint in the race though was challenging due to a slow puncture so it was a case of keeping the car on track and between the white lines.”
“Roll on Portimão!” enthused Zak Brown, Team Owner and Chairman, United Autosports. “We’re looking good in terms of retaining the LMP3 title and there’s everything to play for in LMP2 so we’re in a very cool position. It just wasn’t our day at Spa which is a strange to say when we’ve got another P3 podium and just missed out in P2.”
IMSA will play host to the final race of the year in two weeks time as the series wraps 2017 with Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. AERO squad Michael Shank Racing won the event overall in 2016 and will look to once again close the year out on a high note.
Images courtesy C360R/Sideline, BMW USA/Sam Cobb, Bob Chapman/Autosport Image