MANSFIELD, Ohio (May 7, 2018) - It was a banner weekend for IMSA as the premier North American sports car racing organization made a long-sought return to the Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.
Staging races for both the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the IMSA event saw teams putting the advantage of AERO Sustainable Paint Technology to work to generate success all weekend long.
AERO is a revolutionary paint application that provides incredible strength, unparalleled color quality, and a light weight outer layer that surpasses both traditional paint as well as other more basic car covering methods.
Saturday saw the BMW Team Rahal Letterman Lanigan pilot and Ohio native John Edwards score pole as the AERO-equipped BMW scored its second pole in three IMSA outings.
“I had a Facebook reminder this morning that it has been a year to the day since my last pole (COTA, 2017) so I guess I had a little extra motivation today to go out and do it!” said Edwards. “It was a very tight session. With traffic, you never know what is going to happen so when we start catching up to GTD cars and the Prototype cars start catching us it’s going to throw a wrench into the works. With rain predicted towards the end of the race, nothing is a given but it is very nice to be starting out front.”
The two-hour Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race followed Saturday’s qualifying, with the Compass Racing squad locking out the full TCR class podium with a 1-2-3 team finish.
Kuno Wittmer held the lead for 38 laps in the No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS on his way to taking victory with his co-driver Rodrigo Sales. Tom Long and co-driver Britt Casey Jr. scored second in the No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS, while Roy Block and Pierre Kleinubing made it a 1-2-3 finish for Compass Racing in the No. 75 Audi RS3 LMS.
“First of all, the Compass team and the Audi RS3 LMS were amazing all weekend,” Wittmer said after the race. “We topped the charts in all of the practice sessions. My teammate Rodrigo really held up his end, he was awesome. We pitted with the perfect strategy and we ended up with a 30-second lead, but we ended up having to conserve a lot of fuel. We had to do a lot of fuel conserving thus putting a lot of debris on the front tires so when I had to push I had no grip.”
Sunday saw the WeatherTech competitors take to the track for a full green flag to checkered flag flat out run for nearly three hours.
When the dust settled, there were two AERO teams spraying the champagne in GTLM competition, as the sister BMW Rahal Letterman entry came home in second, with the Corvette Racing coming home in third.
“For sure it was a good day for us,” said Bobby Rahal, Team Principal. “Connor (de Phillippe) and Alexander (Sims) did a super job. We got bogged down in traffic and decided to run long with their car. Everyone else had twenty more laps on their tires and I think that and the lighter fuel load is really what made the difference. Connor ended up in the seat and drove very well. I feel bad for John (Edwards) and Jesse (Krohn). They got stuck in a fuel window and we really could not do too much with it. A shame really but after Long Beach where we were uncompetitive, it feels good.”
Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia fought their way to third with the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to add to the post-race celebrations.
“For how things developed, this is not a bad result,” said Magnussen. “Obviously we would like to have had the pace of the Porsche and BMW today but we kind of got in the middle of them, so only one of each got ahead. It was a good race… good strategy and good pit stops from the crew as usual. We had a good race car. It was all-around fun. I had really a fun battle with Joey (Hand). We got a little racey but it was good fun. Hopefully we get to have more good racing like that throughout the year. I really enjoyed it.“
Photo credits: BMW/Sam Cobb, Compass Racing, Corvette Racing/R. Prince