Posted: Monday, May 5th 2014 at 12:09am
Van Overbeek takes Prototype to Monterey victory lane
By IMSA Media
Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek drove to the Prototype victory Sunday in the Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey. / Photo: Scott R LePage LAT Photo USA for IMSA
MONTEREY, CA - It was a breakthrough win achieved at a breakneck pace, caution-free and milestone-marked. The team of Ed Brown and Johannes van Overbeek tamed a field of Prototypes, co-driving their No. 2 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b/Honda to victory in the Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey powered by Mazda on Sunday – the first victory for a P2 Prototype in the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.
This was significant – and fast, with the winners posting an average speed of 97.318 mph in the two-hour race on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course.
Brown and van Overbeek won the second of two races Sunday at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, featuring the TUDOR Championship’s Prototype (P) and GT Le Mans (GTLM) classes.
Sunday’s breakthrough win for the No. 2 came on the heels of an “adjustment of performance” made by IMSA that lessened horsepower capabilities for the Daytona Prototypes, which had won the season’s first three races.
Van Overbeek took the lead for good with 15 minutes remaining when he passed No. 10 Konica Minolta Corvette DP driver Jordan Taylor in Turn 3. Taylor and his brother Ricky finished second; finishing third were Memo Rojas and Scott Pruett, in the No. 01 Telcel Ford EcoBoost/Riley.
That pass “”was sort of inevitable,” said Jordan Taylor, conceding that on this day and track, the No. 2 had too much car. “I mean, we came into this race knowing the P2s would be strong. We led a lot, but that was mostly due to strategy.”
“This will probably soak in, in a week or so,” said Brown, who started the car from the pole. “We’ve worked really hard. I felt really good coming out of qualifying yesterday knowing that I had the fastest guy on the track racing with me.”
Added van Overbeek: “(Our next race at Detroit) Belle Isle will be much like (our previous one) in Long Beach (both street races) so it will suit the Daytona Prototypes more than us. They have a lot more torque. With every race, ESM Patrón guys will show up prepared, work hard, and do the best job.”
Corvette Racing completed a California sweep Sunday, with Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen driving the No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R to its second consecutive TUDOR United SportsCar Championship victory.
Garcia passed Giancarlo Fisichella’s No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari F458 Italia for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) class lead with 21 minutes remaining and drove to a 4.710-second victory ahead of Bill Auberlen in the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE. Garcia and co-driver Magnussen scored the first TUDOR Championship victory for the Corvette C7.R one race ago at the Long Beach street circuit.
“Traffic in this series is very [difficult] and as soon as I saw a Prototype going to pass (Fisichella), I really went for it and made a run as much as possible,” said Garcia. “He had no chance to block me and after that (I could use) all the tires I had saved.”
While Garcia cruised to victory, an intense battle ensued between the No. 55 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE of Bill Auberlen and the No. 911 Porsche North America Porsche 911 RSR of Nick Tandy for second.
After both cars found their way past Fisichella, the battle led to contact between Tandy and Auberlen on the second-to-last lap, forcing Auberlen off course. Despite the incident on the prior lap, Auberlen caught back up to Tandy and got past in the final turn to take second place.
“We assessed a penalty similar to what we assessed throughout the entire race for an on-track incident which is a stop, plus 60-second penalty to the (No.) 911,” said Scot Elkins, IMSA vice president of competition and technical regulations.
The second-place finish for BMW Team RLL was its fourth consecutive podium finish to start the TUDOR Championship season. Auberlen and Andy Priaulx entered the event leading the GTLM points.
“Today was a balancing act, especially on strategy,” said Auberlen. “Everyone went one way, and we went one way. And then we all met up at the end.”
Sunday’s opening race in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship doubleheader at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix presented by Mazda featured a dominating victory in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class by Starworks Motorsport.
In the race combining the PC and GT Daytona (GTD) classes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Renger van der Zande brought Starworks’ No. 8 ORECA FLM09 home 12.234 seconds in front of the second-place No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Sean Rayhall.
Rayhall had gotten reasonably close to van der Zande, but spun in Turn 10 with 11 minutes remaining.
“To get close is one thing … to get past is another thing,” said van der Zande, who co-drove with German Mirco Schultis. “If you know that you can control the race. Leading the race is the best thing you can have (going for you). Take the risk and control the traffic.”
Van der Zande, from the Netherlands, actually downplayed Rayhall’s late-race charge that cut a sizable advantage to merely a few seconds, saying, “I was just conserving on everything at that point … early lifting ... taking it easy on the tires. I knew I had [only] two [fresh] and he had four tires.
Schultis started the No. 8 and ran 41 minutes, remarkably surviving an early-race incident in Turn 8 with the No. 54 CORE autosport entry of Jon Bennett, who co-leads the championship standings with co-drive Colin Braun.
“I thought that was the end,” Schultis said, “Somehow I got out of the dirt and on the track and somehow it was still running.”
Was it ever. Van der Zande would grab the lead with 23 minutes remaining, when the pole-sitting No. 09 entry driven by Bruno Junqueira of RSR Racing pitted for tires and fuel. Aside from Rayhall’s temporary challenge, it was routine from there.
Junqueira and co-driver Duncan Ende finished third.
“Getting the win is always nice, huh?,” said van der Zande. “At Daytona and Sebring we had some troubles with the cars and here it was just a flawless weekend.
“Mirco did a good job by keeping it on the lead lap and avoiding some crashing people into him. And when he went into the pits (for the driver change), the guys did a really good pit stop. I was not even finished with my seat belts when I had to go already; that means they are really fast. We came into the track and already on the restart I overtook one car, then another, on the same lap. It was a lot of risk, but that's what you have to take.
“And our team had a really good strategy. When they called me in fuel, I was one of the earliest (to do so) and it was a bit of a surprise for me. So I went in the box and they started to change the right-front and then they ended up changing the right side completely. It was hard work at the office today, but good to take the win at the end.”
A would-be race for second wound up being the battle for the win in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda after the GT Daytona class-leading Audi R8 LMS of Spencer Pumpelly ran out of fuel coming out of the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Corkscrew on the final lap of Sunday’s two-hour race.
Pumpelly’s misfortune played right into the hands of Dane Cameron in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 started by Markus Palttala. Cameron held off a hard-charging Christopher Haase in the final corner to pick up the win. Meanwhile, Pumpelly stopped approximately 100 yards short of the start-finish line for a heartbreaking sixth-place finish.
“If they were going to finish or not was outside of our control,” Cameron said of trying to catch Pumpelly, who held an 11-second lead at the white flag. “He was too far ahead to catch him on pace so my only concern was to maintain the (second-place) position and make sure there was no way the Audi was going to get around us.
“Once I was clear of (Pumpelly) I was pretty sure I could get a good enough exit off the last corner. The Audi was quicker than us on top speed, but not until we came over the top of the hill (after the start-finish line). I thought as long as he was beside us on the final corner we would be able to seal the deal.”
Cameron was able to do just that, beating Haase’s No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS started by Bryce Miller to the stripe by 0.168 seconds. Haase found himself battling Cameron for the win after Alex Job Racing’s pair of Porsche 911 GT Americas pitted for fuel from the second and third positions with less than seven minutes remaining.
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring GTD winners Andy Lally and John Potter finished third in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
An early-race spin forced Turner Motorsport to alter its pit strategy and top off its fuel with one hour remaining, giving them more than enough fuel to make it the distance. The same could not be said for Pumpelly who took the lead on the first round of pit stops and quickly went into fuel conversation mode, saving fuel for much of his one-hour, 17-minute stint.
“Everything said we should have been good, and now that we missed it by that little bit, I’m kicking myself for every (one minute) 31 (second) lap time that could have been a (one minute) 32 (second) lap,” said Pumpelly. “This is a new car for us, this our third race with it and there’s things we just don’t know yet. This is the first time we’ve been in this situation.”
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