Event news

It’s a Wrap

Photo courtesy of Bob Heathcote Photography.  www.bobheathcote.com
Photo Courtesy of Bob Heathcote Photography.  www.bobheathcote.com
Photo Courtesy of Bob Heathcote Photography.  www.bobheathcote.com

The streak of Chamber of Commerce conditions that blessed the first three rounds of the 13-race 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship continued today at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where the fourth round of the championship was witnessed by an enthusiastic and large turnout of motorsports fans. The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda staged the contest in a split format:  up first were the 10 Prototype Challenge and 22 GT Daytona cars for a two-hour run on the 11 turn, 2.23 mile track, after which the 12 Prototype and 11 GT Le Mans cars had their turn.

For the first race, sunshine and a refreshing breeze accompanied the air temperature of 55 degrees and track temps of just 62 degrees, effectively eliminating track conditions as an excuse for performance. Fifty-two minutes in, the GTD pole starter, Georgia’s Spencer Pumpelly in the #45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8LMS, held the lead with 32 laps completed. Making a “live by the sword, die by the sword” decision, the #45 team chose to make only one pit stop which was the set up for one of the most shocking finishes of the championship series. With the lead firmly in hand, Pumpelly would run out of gas at the top of the track’s signature Corkscrew turn and coast to within 100 yards of the start-finish line which allowed American driver Dane Cameron, in the #94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4, to take the checkered flag. 

“I wasn’t really sure what our plan was when we made the early [pit] stop and got out of sequence from everyone else, but I trust the team and I trust the strategist,” said Cameron who shared driving duties with Finland’s Markus Palttala. Commenting that he knew he wouldn’t catch Pumpelly on pace, Cameron explained that the team had focused on managing the tires (not fuel) and he was at the top of the Corkscrew when he learned that Pumpelly was out of gas. “The team told me to hurry up, but I didn’t know how I could hurry up any more.”

In the Prototype Challenge class, Brazil’s Bruno Junqueria, who started from pole in the #09 RSR Racing OrecaFLM 09, looked to be on-pace for the win until he went to the pits for tires and fuel with 28 minutes of racing remaining. That opened the door for Dutch driver Renger van der Zande, in the #8 Starworks Motorsport Oreca FLM 09 Chevrolet, who took over the lead and held it to the checkered flag.  He was followed across the line by Sean Rayhall, at the wheel of the #25 8Star Motorsports Oreca FLM 09 Chevrolet, with Junqueira taking the final spot on the podium. 

At 1445 PDT, for the start of the race for Prototype and GT Le Mans cars, temperatures had climbed to 62 degrees with a track temperature of 85.  For the professional drivers of these two classes, the race story was almost a carbon copy of Long Beach:  the teams who started from pole prevailed to win at the conclusion of a caution-free race.

In the Prototype class, California’s Johannes van Overbeek brought the #2 Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03b across the finish to take the team’s first win in the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship.

“Hats off to Ed,” said van Overbeek of his co-driver, Florida’s Ed Brown. “He put us in the position to be here; he did exactly he had to do. Things went our way today.”

With 15 minutes left to race, van Overbeek’s pass of class leader Jordan Taylor, driving the #10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP, was, arguably, the move of the day.  But for Taylor, who shares driving duties with sibling Ricky, their third Prototype podium of the season has a silver lining which will undoubtedly be seen in the overall championship standings.

“I’m happy to get out of here with a second-place finish on one of the tougher tracks on the championship schedule,” said Jordan Taylor.

In GTLM, Spanish driver Antonio Garcia brought home the second consecutive class win in the #3 Corvette Racing Corvette C7.R, following co-driver Jan Magnussen’s win in Long Beach.

“I didn’t want to still be saving the tires and then find out I was second,” said Garcia. “I knew the opportunity would come and if it did I had to have the best tires, and it paid off.”

The inaugural season of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship resumes May 30-31 when the Prototype and GT Daytona classes race at Detroit Belle Isle.

TUDOR is a premium Swiss watchmaking brand, its name first registered for Hans Wilsdorf, founder of Rolex, in 1926. TUDOR has benefitted from Rolex’s outstanding watchmaking expertise, quality control and service.  TUDOR was re-launched in 2007 with a distinctive personality and high level of independence in its design, manufacturing and communication. TUDOR is also the World Timing Partner for both Ducati and the FIA World Endurance Championship.