Ford GT is not a virgin any more after victory at Laguna Seca
Ford Chip Ganassi drivers Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe scored a historic first victory for a brand-new Ford GT at Laguna Seca, in the Monterey Grand Prix, the fourth round of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. The #67 Ford GT, created to represent American brand in its return to Le Mans, reached the maiden win in the GTLM class race at famous Californian race track.
The winners in the Prototype class, who raced together with GTLM cars in a two-hour race, were Ozz Negri and John Pew in the #60 Honda-powered Ligier JS P2 of Michael Shank Racing with Curb Agajanian. In another race, reserved for PC and GTD cars, Tom Kimber-Smith and Robert Alon took the PC class win for PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports while Alex Riberas and Mario Farnbacher earned the GTD class victory driving the Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing’s Porsche.
Strategic victory for Chip Ganassi Racing team
Maiden victory for #67 Ford GT came after good strategy and a fierce fight against #68 Ferrari 488 GTE of Scuderia Corsa, driven by Daniel Serra and Alessandro Pier Guidi. Serra started from pole and Briscoe was chasing him until he pitted to get a car to Westbrook. During that stop, the car got stuck in first gear, and by the time Westbrook rejoined the field he had fallen to sixth place. With the loss of track position, the team decided to safe fuel.
The strategy was good and Westbrook progressed up to second in the running order, behind teammate Joey Hand in the #66 Ford, as other competitors made their final pit stops. With six minutes to go Hand also pitted to take a fuel. Westbrook had conserved enough fuel that he did not have to stop again, and he won with 12.545 seconds over Alessandro Pier Guidi in the #68 Ferrari. Third place went to Frederic Makowiecki and Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche 911 RSR of Porsche North America.
Negri and Pew winners again after four years
The overall winners of the race were Ozz Negri and John Pew. For Michael Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian its was a first victory since the 2012 Rolex 24 at Daytona. The weekend started perfect for Mazda Motorsports, with two cars on the front row of the starting grid. Mazdas were on the top in the opening 25 laps but then an incident sent them to the pits and they felt to fifth and sixth.
Negri took over the car during the caution and after few laps he took the lead in a race. He won ahead of two Corvette DP cars. Ryan Dalziel and Marc Goossens finished second in the #90 VisitFlorda Racing’s car, 30.099 behind Negri, and just only 0.855 seconds ahead of Eric Curran, who was sharing the #31 Action Express car with Dane Cameron.
Pole-to-flag win for Riberas and Farnbacher
In the Prototype Challenge class Tom Kimber-Smith took the win after a late-race attack of Starworks Motorsport’s Renger van der Zande. The gap at the finish line was just 1.736 seconds. Kimber-Smith was sharing the victorious #52 Oreca FLM09 with Robert Alon. Alex Popow was a co-driver in the second-placed car. Colin Braun and Jon Bennett took the third place for CORE Autosport.
The GTD cars raced together with PC. Alex Riberas and Mario Farnbacher took the pole-to-flag victory in the #23 Porsche, ahead of Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, driven by Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen. Third place finishers were Brandon Davis and James Davison in the #007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3.