Harry Tincknell, Oliver Jarvis and Jonathan Bomarito have won Motul Petit Le Mans in what is Mazda’s final appearance in IMSA, while Whelen Engineering scerued the 2021 IMSA championship with a podium finish.
The #55 Mazda RT24-P suffered engine trouble in the early stages of the race and even went two laps down, but completed a strong comeback for an emotional farewell win after an extremely tense conclusion to the ten-hour race
The team came into the hunt for victory in the closing hours of the race, with Tincknell putting the #31 Cadillac DPi-VR under significant pressure
The Briton ultimately sealed the deal with a gutsy pass on Felipe Nasr within the final hour of the race, going on to secure victory by holding Nasr off in a nervewracking conclusion to the season.
In second place, Nasr, Pipo Derani and Mike Conway held off Wayne Taylor Racing even as Ricky Taylor attempted a desperate last-lap lunge, securing the 2021 IMSA championship for Nasr and Derani in the process.
The #31 Cadillac DPi-VR was a contender for victory all throughout the ten-hour enduro after starting from pole, but made a definitive bid for top honours in the seventh hour when Nasr vaulted into the lead during a round of pitstops under caution.
When Nasr handed over to Derani, the Brazilian was briefly surpassed by the #60 Meyer Shank Racing Acura ARX-05 of Dane Cameron.
After Nasr was installed back behind the wheel and Montoya took over the Acura, the Cadillac regained the lead of the race when Montoya was caught up in traffic, allowing Nasr back ahead.
From there, the Brazilian swiftly built up a lead, before ultimately getting caught by Tincknell.
With the podium and the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura ARX-05 third, Nasr and Derani have won their first IMSA title as a duo. Nasr captured his second title, also having won in 2018. Derani, meanwhile, captured his maiden title.
Ricky Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque completed the podium and finished second in the standings alongside Alexander Rossi.
Kamui Kobayashi, Simon Pagenaud and Jimmie Johnson finished fourth in the #48 Ally Cadillac DPi-VR.
Meyer Shank Racing lost out on a podium finish when the car had to go behind the wall with floor issues in the final hour of the eace.
Tower Motorsports wins LMP2 after PR1 penalty
Tower Motorsports has taken the class win in LMP2 after penalty for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports.
The #52 PR1 ORECA 07-Gibson started the race from pole and led for much of the early running thanks to a strong stint for Ben Keating. Keating, however, fell down the order after contact with the WIN Autosport LMP3 car.
This was good news for Win Autosport’s LMP2 entry, which moved into the lead as a result. Throughout the hours, however, the brightly coloured #52 car recovered and moved back into contention.
After that, the two cars would continue to trade the lead in class back and fourth throughout the race. Huffaker made a seemingly deciding pass on Thomas Merrill in the ninth hour, after which the car appeared clear to cruise to victory.
That was until an unspecified infraction saw the #52 car served a time penalty, dropping it to third place. The class win was inherited by the #8 ORECA 07-Gibson of Gabriel Aubry, John Farano and James French.
Keating, Huffaker and Mikkel Jensen were demoted to second, while Thomas Merrill, Tristan Nunez and Steven Thomas finished third in the #11 ORECA.
Double glory for Riley Motorsports in LMP3
Riley Motorsports have rounded out an excellent year in LMP3 with a class win for the #74 Ligier JS P320 of Felipe Fraga, Scott Andrews and Gar Robinson.
The early running in the category was dominated by the polesitting #2 United Autosports Ligier, until it was involved in a multi-car incident that also saw the #91 Riley Ligier damaged.
The lead was inherited by the #30 JrIII Racing Ligier after that until the sixth hour, when Andrews claimed the lead. Andrews’ lead was brief as he had a trip through the gravel that saw Garret Grist back out in front in the #30 Ligier, but Andrews got back ahead during pitstops under caution not much later.
Riley Mtorosports went on to win ahead of the JrIII Racing trio of Grist, Ari Balogh and Spencer Pigot, with the #91 Riley Ligier of Jim Cox, Dylan Murry and Jeroen Bleekemolen third.
WeatherTech Racing score one-two in GTLM’s swansong
Privateer Porsche squad WeatherTech Racing have taken a one-two in GTLM after a late incident for the lone remaining Corvette.
Corvette Racing held strong cards for a one-two in the final race of the GTLM era, until the race in both categories was marred by a huge crash on the back straight that took out eight cars in the fifth hour. That crash took out the #3 Corvette C8.R amongst others.
Afer BMW’s pace also faded as darkness fell and the #25 BMW retired after running off-track, the battle took place between the #4 Corvette and the two WeatherTech Racing Porsches.
While the #97 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Kevin Estre, Michae Christensen and Fred Makowiecki led the race, Nick Tandy was still in pursuit until contact with the leading #55 Mazda sent the Briton off the track with suspension damage.
The #79 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Cooper MacNeil, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet was ultimately allowed ahead to take the win, with the #97 second. The #24 BMW M8 GTE of Augusto Farfus, Jesse Krohn and John Edwards rounded out the podium as the last car still running in class.
Pfaff Motorsports take GTD victory and title
Heart of Racing have survived a race of attrition to add Petit Le Mans to a season that already saw them win the WeatherTech Sprint Cup.
The crash in the fifth hour took out a number of podium contenders in GTD, including the #14 Lexus RC F GT3.
In the final hours, the race ultimately came down to the # 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Laurens Vanthoor, Zacharie Robichon and Lars Kern and the #23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ross Gunn, Ian James and Roman de Angelis.
In the closing stages of the race, Vanthoor and Ross Gunn traded the lead in class back and forth repeatedly, although Vanthoor ultimately came out on top.
The Aston Martin ultimately went on to win, while Vanthoor and Robichon lock up the GTD title for the Pfaff team.
The podium was completed by the #44 Magnus Racing with Archangel Acura NSX GT3 Evo of John Potter, Andy Lally and Spencer Pumpelly.
Oliver Jarvis Harry Tincknell Jonathan Bomarito
Felipe Nasr Mike Conway Pipo Derani
Ricky Taylor Filipe Albuquerque Alexander Rossi
Jimmie Johnson Kamui Kobayashi Simon Pagenaud
Renger van der Zande Kevin Magnussen Scott Dixon
John Farano Gabriel Aubry James French
ORECA LMP2 07
Ben Keating Mikkel Jensen Scott Huffaker
ORECA LMP2 07
Thomas Steven Tristan Nunez Thomas Merrill
ORECA LMP2 07
Jim McGuire Wayne Boyd Guy Smith
ORECA LMP2 07
Dane Cameron Helio Castroneves Juan Pablo Montoya
Gar Robinson Felipe Fraga Scott Andrews
Ligier JS P320
Ari Balogh Garett Grist Spencer Pigot
Ligier JS P320
Cooper MacNeil Mathieu Jaminet Matt Campbell
Porsche 911 RSR – 19
Kevin Estre Michael Christensen Frédéric Makowiecki