Corvette Racing secured victory at the Motul 100% Synthetic Grand Prix in a race of two halves under the floodlights at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The #3 car of Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor started from pole position in the 1-hour 40-minute race, which was added to replace the cancelled round at Lime Rock Park.Embed from Getty Images
However, the #25 BMW Team RLL run, BMW M8 GTE of Jesse Krohn and John Edwards, moved into the lead thanks to Krohn passing Taylor on the third lap.
The BMW looked like the superior package in the rain, which caused the race to be delayed by two hours after the NASCAR Xfinity Series race overran and the track had to be cleaned and dried somewhat.
After the pit stops and driver changes, it was Garcia who then retook the lead from Edwards at on lap 46 as the Corvette came into its own as the race went on and a drier line was starting to appear on parts of the track.
The other BMW of Bruno Spengler and Connor de Philippi rounded out the podium for BMW as the last classified finisher in the class.
The #4 Corvette of Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner retired after a crash at Turn 14 on lap 54 after what looked like a mechanical failure on the banking.
Milner himself posted on Twitter after the race saying:
Porsche GT Team had another nightmare weekend after both cars retired early on with accident damage.
The #912 of Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber was the first to crash with Vanthoor going off at Turn 7 on the fourth lap with Frederic Mackowicki condemning the #911 he shares with Nick Tandy to a similar fate on lap six at Turn 2.
Vanthoor got onto the grass and spun, inflicting heavy damage to the rear of the Porsche whilst Mackowiecki spun and hit the wall with the front of his car.
Vanthoor even went on to describe his weekend on Instagram as: “probably one of my worst personal performances in the last 5 (sic) years.”
Auberlen rolls back the years as Lexus loses ground in championship battle
Bill Auberlen turned back the years after a dominant stint to guide the #96 Turner Motorsports BMW M6 GT3 to win the GTD class.Embed from Getty Images
After Robby Foley spun at the final chicane on the end of the second lap, the 51-year old, who was one of only two drivers to compete in the last American Le Mans Series race at the circuit in 2000, produced a stint which saw him at times, lapping faster than the overall race leaders.
Second place was the #16 Wright Motorsport Porsche 911 GT3.R of Ryan Hardwick and Patrick Long and, third place went to the #23 Heart of Race Aston Martin Vantage GT3 of Ian James and Roman de Angelis.
Incidentally, James was the other driver to take part in that ALMS race and de Angelis hadn’t been born when that happened!
De Angelis passed the #12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC-F GT3 of Townsend Bell and Michael de Quesada on the penultimate lap at the chicane at Turn 11.
The battle for second had been rather intense between Long, Mario Farnbacher in the #86 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajainian Acura NSX GT3 Evo and Jack Hawksworth in the other Lexus.
However, Hawksworth was deemed to have spun Farnbacher at Turn 16 and was given a drive-through penalty for incident responsibility and dropped to eighth in class.
This, and a slow driver change thanks to one of the driver netting getting twisted undid the effort Aaron Telitz produced in his opening stint where he was running as high as third overall at one stage.
The #57 Heinricher Racing With Meyer Shank Curb-Agajainian Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Alvaro Parente & Misha Goikhberg and the #30 Team Hardpoint Audi R8 LMS GT3 of Rob Ferriol & Spencer Pumpelly both had relatively quiet races to finish fifth and sixth respectively.
The #76 Compass Racing McLaren 720S GT3 of Jeff Kingsley & Paul Holton and the #74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach were both lapped following multiple spins in the treacherous conditions.
The #44 GRT Magnus Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo of John Potter and Andy Lally was retired after 25 laps due to what the team described on Twitter as a “persisting issue”.
Finally, the #22 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Til Bechtolsheimer and Marc Miller was out following an accident for Bechtolsheimer at Turn 2 on the ninth lap while he was running fourth in the class.
Regarding the drivers’ and manufacturers’ championships, in GTLM, Garcia & Taylor still lead with 261 points although the gap between the sister car of Milner & Gavin and the BMW pairings of Spengler & di Philippi and Edwards & Krohn is now just six points.
The Porsche drivers, Mackowiecki & Tandy and Bamber & Vanthoor are out of contention for the championship after they missed the previous round at Mid Ohio following three positive cases of COVID-19 among the team at Le Mans.
Corvette wasn’t able to clinch the title this weekend in the manufacturers’ standings although a good performance at Petit Le Mans next weekend at Road Atlanta should see them clinch the title ahead of BMW and Porsche.
In the GTD class, the Acura pairing of McMurry and Farnbacher take the lead of the championship from Telitz following the penalty for Jack Hawksworth.
Hawksworth moves down to fourth in the standings as the Porsche duo of Hardwick and Long move into joint second with Telitz.
The win for Auberlen and Foley see them move into sixth behind Townsend Bell.
Images courtesy of Getty Images
Written by Rob Lomas
Sub-edited by Anthony Onifade