The first hour and a half of today’s 2 hour, 40 minute IMSA race at Road America was relatively standard, highlighted by a competitive race for the overall lead between the #55 Mazda and #7 Acura. Porsche #912 led GTLM, and the two AIM Autsosport Lexus entries that have dominated GTD throughout the season held a comfortable 1-2 in that class. Then, rain came.
What followed was two waves of absolute chaos, first a downpour that left both the GTLM-leading #912 Porsche and the DPi championship-contending #31 Cadillac in the grass. This drew a lengthy red flag, followed by a lengthy yellow. Racing resumed one hour later, and a dogfight broke out in all three major classes.
In DPi, the #7 Penske Acura found itself suddenly under major pressure from the #10 Cadillac of Wayne Taylor Racing, but Helio Castroneves was able to overcome both Renger van der Zande’s charge and another sudden downpower to retain the lead and take an overall win. The win for Castroneves, and teammate Ricky Taylor, is timely for both Acura and Team Penske, who are each advertising themselves to other suitors after last weekend’s announcement that the pair will part ways at the end of the season. Acura is expected to instead work with a collection of closely-tied non-factory teams as they did in their ALMS days, while Team Penske is expected to sit the season out as they seek out a new manufacturer partner to potentially contest both the IMSA season and Le Mans.
Timing of the yellow and red moved the #24 BMW M8 into the GTLM lead on the final restart, but an unseen apparent collision during the second sudden downpour late in the race left both that entry and the #912 Porsche off track, clearing the way for a third consecutive win for Corvette Racing. Their #3 entry led their #2, with the #24 BMW still rounding out the podium. The result means that Corvette’s new C8.R has won three races in four entries, a successful debut season even if scheduling and pandemic restrictions mean the car will not run at Le Mans.
In GTD, AIM Vasser Sullivan Autosport’s dominance was briefly challenged by the Acura NSX of Meyer Shank Racing, which driver Mario Farnbacher took from third to the lead in just a few short laps when the race resumed. He never did shake Townsend Bell’s Lexus, however, and Bell was able to get by Farnbacher in the chaos of the late downpour. The win is also the third straight for AVS Autosport and the Lexus RC-F, a car-team pairing that have seemed downright unstoppable on pure pace since the season resumed.
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Amid all the chaos, Ben Hanley and DragonSpeed took a relatively comfortable win LMP2. That class, down to just three entries after the withdrawal of the Starworks entry, created perhaps the most memorable moment of the day when an entry picked up an entire sponsorship banner during an off-track excursion and carried it around for an entire minute.
IMSA’s next scheduled race is in three weeks at the Virginia International Raceway, though yesterday’s announcement of schedule changes indicated that more calendar adjustments could be on the way.
Gallery: Suzuki Jimny “little D.” By Damd (motor1)