PORTLAND, Orgegon (September 7, 2018) - From the Festival Curves to the Boot, it was another winning weekend for teams using AERO Sustainable Paint Technology.
The Verizon IndyCar Series made a rousing return to Portland International Raceway, with a spectacular race start leading to a convincing race victory for Takuma Sato and his Rahal Letterman Lanigan crew. The win is Sato’s first since his 2017 Indianapolis 500 victory, and marked the 300th win for Dallara.
Sato’s AERO-painted Mi-Jack/Panasonic entry combined pace with fuel smarts to claim a big victory for the popular Japanese racer. After starting 20th, Sato managed to lead 23 laps on his way to the win.
The Rahal-led team was an early mover with AERO, utilizing it for both the IndyCar and factory BMW IMSA program. Sato’s Mi-Jack/Panasonic livery featured AERO Liquid Metal™ Series and looked as good as it was fast.
“The strategy worked extremely well, the car worked well and the pit stops were fantastic,” said Sato. “It was a beautiful race. I was of course looking at Ryan Hunter-Reay in my mirrors. I knew he had more Push to Pass and knew he was coming but I kept really cool. The yellow obviously helped it but, most importantly, the car had pace. Look at these fans in Portland, so enthusiastic. I think this is one of the most beautiful days in my life again. I have to give thanks to Mi-Jack, Honda, Panasonic, Abeam and all of the guys and of course Bobby, Mike and Dave.”
On the other side of the country, Pirelli World Challenge was in action to close out the 2018 season at Watkins Glen International.
The factory Panoz squad, which has utilized AERO Sustainable Paint Technology since its return to racing action in World Challenge, capped another incredible season with a huge weekend.
Panoz racer Ian James claimed both pole positions to score second place in race one and then claimed his sixth class win of the season as Panoz locked in the World Challenge GTS Sprint/Sprint-X Manufacturer’s Championship title.
"What a way to finish off the year here at Watkins Glen!” said James. “It was amazingly close all the way, the top four cars were covered within a couple of tenths in speed. The team has done a brilliant job this year, five wins, you can’t ask for more than that. The car looks awesome with the AERO on there, and it obviously goes very well too!”
As the racing world focuses ahead to the IMSA visit to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca this weekend, there will once again be several teams that will put the strength, beauty, and light weight of AERO to the test as the iconic track stages both the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar and Continental Tire SportsCar championships.
It is nothing less than a battle royale for the IMSA GTLM championship as the AERO-equipped Corvette Racing squad holds a four point advantage heading into the race weekend. The team is looking to lock down its third consecutive GTLM title in the final two races of the year.
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia lead the field following their run to second place at VIR. Laguna Seca has hosted the Corvette Racing squad every year for the 19 years of the hugely accomplished team’s campaign.
“There is no place better to race than the Monterey Peninsula and WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca,” said Corvette Racing Program Manager Doug Fehan. “It’s the perfect track for a race with a lot at stake in the GTLM championship. We have a great history here - seven wins in 19 appearances. While we may not have the fastest car, we’ve shown throughout the last couple of years that our vehicle engineering, our on-track strategic decisions and our driver lineup is more than capable overcoming most challenges we have faced. It’s a big reason why we have Antonio and Jan leading the Driver’s Championship with two races left. We hope that continues in Monterey.”
But after a breakthrough win and double-podium finish for BMW Team RLL at VIR, Corvette Racing will have to contend with the Roundel’s momentum this weekend.
The classic Northern California circuit that is within sight of Monterey Bay has seen two BMW victories in recent years. The BMW Z4 GTLM won in 2015 with John Edwards and Lucas Luhr behind the wheel and the BMW M6 GTLM was victorious last year with John Edwards sharing the win with Martin Tomczyk.
“As a team or for me as a driver, historically, we have had great success at Laguna Seca,” said team principal Bobby Rahal. “Last year's win with John Edwards (and Martin Tomczyk) was a tremendous strategic victory for us and John did a fabulous job getting the maximum mileage that was necessary to realize that strategy. I have to say it was probably one of the most satisfying wins I have ever had as a driver or a team owner so we look forward to returning to Laguna Seca especially given the performance of the BMW M8 GTE at VIR. We hope to be in the hunt for the win again, hopefully without such an aggressive strategy as we utilized last year.”
Scuderia Corsa will boast a two-car line up with weekend with their AERO-painted Ferrari 488 GT3 machines as Townsand Bell and Frankie Montacalvo join the full season program of Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette.
Saturday’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge will also see several teams with AERO Sustainable Paint Technology. Judging by the results thus far this year, it is safe to assume the AERO squads will be getting lots of TV time. Between the two team entries, they have claimed some six victories from eight races.
The No. 74 of Kuno Wittmer and Rodrigo Sales lead the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge TCR championship over fellow Compass runners Tom Long and Britt Casey Jr. in their No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS TCR
Returning to the field to drive another stunner will be Nico Rondet, who joins Matt Plumb in the incredible No. 76 Misahara Jewelry / McLaren / Pfaff Automotive / Race Day Foundation McLaren GT4 entry in the GS class. The entry has shown remarkable pace but has been plagued by some terrible racing luck that they will hope to reverse with the new driver pairing.
The GS class will also see the Carbahn squad in action with the NO. 39 set to be shared by a pair of Californians in Tyler Mcquarrie and Jeff Westphal. Their Audi R8 GT4 also boasts AERO Sustainable Paint Technology and has been a consistent threat for a big result all year long for the first-year squad.
The IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 will kick off this Saturday at 3:05 PM PST while the headliner IMSA WeatherTech event will go green on Sunday at 2:00 PM PST and can be viewed on FS1.