Tudor United SportsCar Challenge: Nick Tandy and Townsend Bell win at Oak Tree GP
Prototype and Prototype Challenge cars and drivers had a rest for Oak Tree Grand Prix. Dion Von Moltke and Nick Tandy were leading the race in GTD and GTLM classes at Virginia International Raceway and the 2 hours 40 minutes long race started at 1:05PM local time. On the start, there was a battle in GTLM class where Pierre Kaffer managed to get past Jorg Bergmeister, but Porsche driver retaliated and returned to second. In GTD class #63 Ferrari 458 driver Bill Sweedler overtook Patrick Lindsey for second while Porsche driver Ian James was attacking Christina Nielsen in an Aston Martin. With around 2:20 to go, there was a BMW-Corvette battle in GTLM, with #25 BMW Z4 driver Bill Auberlen in Oliver Gavin’s #4 Corvette tail. With 2:13 to go, Ben Keating went to the pits due to an undefined issue, later identified as a tire flat spot. In the meantime, Bill Sweedler took the lead in GTD class. With 2:09 to go, Bill Auberlen finally managed to pass Oliver Gavin, but the battle continued when Auberlen started attacking Jan Magnussen, the other C7.R driver. However, Auberlen soon dropped to last in his class after spinning in Turn 1. BMW driver Lucas Luhr made a pit stop for tire change whill Auberlen overtook Bryan Sellers in a Porsche 911.
With around 1:50 to go, pit window opened for a couple of cars, which left Nick Tandy leading Corvette driver Jann Magnussen in GTLM class and in GTD, Christina Nielsen was in the lead. After pit cycle completed, GTLM was lead by Tandy’s partner Patrick Pilet and GTD leader Bill Sweedler switched seats with Townsend Bell. Around the same time, Magnus Racing #44 Porsche suffered a tire puncture with John Potter behind the wheel, but he skillfully managed to save the car. With 1:36 to go, Townsend Bell made a mistake when giving GTLM Ferrari driven by Fisichella room to pass, but managed to defend the lead in GTD from Christopher Haase. With around 1:25 to go, Porsche #44 suffered one more tire puncture, this time by Andy Lally.
Halfway into the race, GTLM class was led by Patrick Pilet and in GTD, Townsend Bell was in the first place. With 1:08 to go, #3 Corvette driven by Antonio Garcia stopped because of electrical problems, but managed to restart and continue racing, losing one spot to Dirk Werner. With 1:02 to go, the battle between Giancarlo Fisichella and Earl Bamber heated as the latter was in Ferrari driver’s tail, and at the same time, the GTD pit cycle began. Minutes later, #44 Porsche went behind the pit wall, finishing the race early. In GTD, #48 Audi R8 driven by Christopher Haase went from the lead into the pits, leaving #007 Aston Martin in the lead, though without the pit stop. Ferrari driver Townsend Bell who pitted early returned to the lead when #007 made a pit stop. In GTLM, #4 Corvette and #25 BMW Z4 pitted, as well as overall leader #911 Porsche 911 with Nick Tandy behind the wheel again. The car restarted without losing the lead.
With 48 minutes to go, Tommy Milner spun his Corvette, but returned to the track without losing positions. With 39 minutes to go, #25 BMW Z4 driver Dirk Werner lost his a part of rear bodywork, leaving it in the exit of the final corner. With 28 minutes to go, #48 Audi R8 driven by Christopher Haase spun on the Rollercoaster turn, but as the car didn’t hit the barrier, it returned to the race, losing two spots and dropping to fourth in GTD class.
Final minutes of the race elapsed without any serious on track battles, but with Tommy Milner in the pits as white flag waved. Ferrari driven by Pierre Kaffer was a lap short to make a move on Earl Bamber who finished the race second, behind Nick Tandy’s #911 Porsche. John Edwards was on fourth, followed by Werner, Garcia, Henzler and Milner. In GTD, #63 Ferrari driven by Townsend Bell won the race and was followed by #007 Aston Martin driven by Kuno Wittmer. Mario Farnbacher was on third with Markus Palttala, Christopher Haase, Leh Keen, Jeroen Bleekemolen and Pierre Kleinubing behind. #44 and #73 Porsches didn’t finish the race.