Acura Now 1-2 in IMSA DPi Season Standings After CTMP; Pfaff, Aston Martin Also Win
Renger van der Zande’s opportunistic run through late-race traffic produced an unexpected victory for himself and Sebastien Bourdais Sunday in the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Van der Zande guided the No. 01 Cadillac V Performance Academy Cadillac past Oliver Jarvis in the leading No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura DPi with 10 minutes remaining in the 2-hour, 40-minute event when Jarvis was inadvertently blocked in Turn 3 by a GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) competitor. Once in front, van der Zande pulled away to win by 3.509 seconds to claim the third victory of the season for the No. 01 Cadillac.
Blomqvist and Jarvis finished second for the fifth consecutive IMSA race, a streak dating to the event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in mid-May. Consolation came in the form of regaining the WeatherTech Championship DPi points lead over the No. 10 Konica Minolta Racing Acura shared by Filipe Albuquerque and Ricky Taylor, which finished sixth at CTMP.
The No. 60 Acura duo now lead the No. 10 pairing by 56 points after arriving in Canada trailing by 17. Bourdais and van der Zande moved up to third in the standings, 148 points off the lead.
The No. 01’s victory, which was the 10th in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition for Bourdais and the 17th for van der Zande, came as a surprise to both veteran drivers.
Bourdais deferred to van der Zande when he was asked to place the decal signifying a WeatherTech Championship race win onto the victorious Cadillac after the race.
“That was all him,” Bourdais remarked. “With the massive power steering issues, I was barely hanging on and I have no idea how he put that thing up there to fight those guys. He obviously reads traffic super-well, and when he gets all wound up with emotions, he uses that anger in a positive way. He really made it work today, and it was very impressive.”
“Our race car was very difficult to drive and we really struggled a lot in traffic,” Blomqvist said. “We learned some lessons and know we can achieve performance over a single lap. But this hurts a lot, and everyone is heartbroken because we believe we should have won that one.”
Pipo Derani and Olivier Pla completed the podium by finishing third in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac.
The plaid Pfaff Porsche finished the race where it started – at the head of the class.
In the Canadian team’s return to its home track, Pfaff Motorsports extended its points lead in GTD PRO with a nearly perfect flag-to-flag victory by Mathieu Jaminet and Matt Campbell in the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3R.
Jaminet, who won the Motul Pole Award on Saturday, started Sunday’s Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park up front. He surrendered the lead briefly with 1 hour 6 minutes left in the two-hour 40-minute race when he pitted after a 53-lap stint. Not long after, the No. 9 Porsche was back in front.
“It’s extremely special,” Campbell said. “To come away with a victory like that is super special. (The team) put so much effort and work into this one race. We’ve had so many supporters and fans here this weekend. It’s been fantastic to see.”
After Jaminet’s stop, Campbell took over and brought the No. 9 to the line 1.434 seconds ahead of the No. 3 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R GTD co-driven by Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia.
While it may have looked simple, Jaminet said, it was anything but.
“It wasn’t easy, not at all,” he said. “Luckily it worked out. Starting up front was one of the keys today. Amazing job from the boys.”
Jaminet, Campbell and the Pfaff crew never faltered, even as the No. 3 Corvette and the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 co-driven by Alex Riberas and Ross Gunn challenged valiantly. At times midway through the race, the three cars were separated by less than a second.
For Roman De Angelis, Maxime Martin and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3, the first sign things were going their way came in Turn 1 on the opening lap.
That’s when the pole-sitting GT Daytona (GTD) No. 12 Lexus RC F GT3 was collected by the spinning No. 33 Sean Creech Motorsport Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3). The Lexus sustained significant damage, forcing lengthy repairs that ended in a last-place finish in the GTD class.
The No. 12’s misfortune opened the door for De Angelis, Martin and the No. 27 Aston Martin that started second in class to forge ahead and win the GTD race. But not without drama. Martin had Philip Ellis in the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 on his bumper over the final hour, the margin of victory but 0.493 seconds.
“It was very tough. The Mercedes was quite big in my mirrors, for sure,” Martin said after the Belgian took home the third win of his IMSA career. “At the end, it was really close. The Mercedes behind was so fast, but a win is a win; we’ll take it. It’s fantastic for the whole team.”
Ellis, racing for the first time at CTMP, gave it his all but couldn’t find a way past the Aston Martin.
The No. 27’s win gives the team back-to-back victories on consecutive weekends following their June 26 triumph in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen. Sunday’s race awarded points only for the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup and not the overall season championship, but it didn’t lessen the sweetness for De Angelis and Martin.
“Definitely special to win here,” said De Angelis, a five-time WeatherTech Championship race winner who hails from Windsor, Ontario, and considers CTMP and Detroit his home tracks. “I’ve done a lot of racing here in the past but obviously to win here in Canada the first time back with IMSA is pretty special. Amazing job by the team, amazing job by my teammate and good strategy all weekend.
The GT classes are in action at Lime Rock Park July 15-16 for the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix.