Whelen Engineering takes dramatic late win at Motul Petit Le Mans
Whelen Engineering Racing has won the 2019 Motul Petit Le Mans after the #5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac suffered a late brake failure, handing the victory to Pipo Derani, Felipe Nasr and Eric Curran.
Derani's team-mate Nasr started the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-VR from pole and put in a wicked opening stint to open up a gap, but fell back down the order as the Cadillacs lost pace relative to the Mazdas and Acuras.
As the race progressed into the night, however, the cooler temperatures seemed to fit the Cadillacs better. Soon Action Express machines, as well as the Konica Minolta Cadillac, made their way back to the front.
Filipe Albuquerque then led the way after a late restart, but an apparent brake failure sent the #5 Cadillac into the grave at turn 10, and as the Portuguese driver made his way to the pits, the team determined the left front brake had failed, handing the lead to team-mate Derani in the #31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac, who held off the Konica Minolta DPi-VR of Jordan Taylor to take victory.
Juan Pablo Montoya, Dane Cameron and Simon Pagenaud finished fourth in the #6 Team Penske Acura ARX-05, which was enough to claim the championship in DPi despite their title rivals winning.
LMP2 became the first class in modern IMSA history to not have a single car make the finish. The #38 Performance Tech Motorsports ORECA 07-Gibson retired early on when Cameron Cassels was hit from behind by the #7 Team Penske Acura of Helio Castroneves and was sent into the wall and an early retirement. The #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA of Dalton Kellett, Matt McMurry and Gabriel Aubry would follow suit several hours later with a mechanical issue, but was classified as the winner as it was the last car running.
In GTLM, Risi Competizione won on their return to IMSA competition as the #62 Ferrari 488 GTE trio of James Calado, Daniel Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi defeated the #67 Ford GT of Scott Dixon, Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe.
The Fords led the majority of the race after beating the Ferrari in the pitlane, but it fell apart for the GTs in their final outing. First, Dirk Mueller crashed the #66 at turn one, and later Pier Guidi passed Westbrook at the end of the eighth hour and did not give up the lead again. BMW Team RLL ended their 2019 IMSA campaign with a podium finish, as Tom Blomqvist, Connor de Phillippi and Colton Herta completed the podium in the #25 BMW M8 GTE.
A fifth place finish for the #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Earl Bamber, Laurens Vanthoor and third driver Mathieu Jaminet was enough for Bamthor, as the duo is known, to take the championship ahead of the #911 sister car of Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy, who were joined at Road Atlanta by Fred Makowiecki.
GT Daytona was won by Turner Motorsports' #96 BMW M6 GT3 of Bill Auberlen, Robbie Foley and Dillon Machavern in a dramatic finish. The BMW team started from the back of the grid after a brake failure in qualifying, but made their way to the front in a very competitive field. The victory looked in jeopardy when Felipe Fraga barged his way into the lead in #33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.
After the late restart, Auberlen turned the pressure up to eleven, which ended with the AMG running out of fuel in the very fast lap. Auberlen went on to take victory, tying him with Scott Pruett for the all-time number of IMSA victories. Chris Mies, Daniel Morad and Ricardo Feller finished second in the #29 Montaplast by Land Audi R8 LMS GT3 Evo, while the #9 PFAFF Porsche 911 GT3 R of Scott Hargrove, Lars Kern and Zacharie Robichon completed the podium.
Meyer Shank Racing took the GT Daytona title with the #86 Acura NSX GT3 Evo, despite not finishing after a piece of debris damaged the radiator.