First GT Only IMSA Race Saturday at Lime Rock

AutoInformed.com on sports car racing

Legge up?

This is an IMSA GT weekend, the first of two where only GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes are run this Saturday at Lime Rock Park. The fast and constricted track should have the IMSA GTD cars turning sub 60-second lap times around the 1.4-mile, 7-turn circuit comprised of one left hand turn and six right handers. (Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute Northeast Grand Prix begins at 3 pm ET and will be televised on a delayed basis that afternoon starting at 4 p.m. ET on FS1. The race will be carried live by IMSA Radio on IMSA.com, RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio (Sirius 138/XM 202/App 972).

The Connecticut track rewards good handling race cars because of the  fast-downhill starting at West Bend (Turn 6) through the Downhill turn (Turn 7) that leads onto the main straight. Pit stop execution is vital at such speeds. Any team needs any advantage it can get in a tough GTD class, which AutoInformed thinks is among the  best racing in the world. It’s full of experienced cars and drivers with pace. This will likely characterize the racing to the season-ending Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta on 13 October as stressed as it is uncertain.

“Let me put it to you this way, it’s two hours and about 15 minutes from where I’m standing at the moment in my Audi dealership,” said Team owner and retired racer Paul Miller during a telephone interview. “We have 700-something employees and we bought a block of tickets for our employees to go to the race. We gave them out on a first-come, first-served basis and they were gone in less than an hour. That probably should tell you something about the interest level in our race team.” dealerships.

Miller, who now owns twelve dealerships says he first raced at Lime Rock as a driver in the mid-1960s. During his career, he raced there and many other places through the mid-1980s with co-drivers such as his brother, Kenper, Ludwig Heimrath, Bob Akin and Brian Redman, and against formidable competition such as Hurley Haywood, George Follmer and Vasek Polak.

“Part of what we’re doing pretty well these days is building a car that actually finishes races an incredibly high percentage of the time without major glitches,” Miller says. “That’s had a big impact on why we do pretty well today.”

The team has finished fourth or better in every race this season, with a win in March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts. In all, his drivers Sellers and Snow have finished on the podium in five of the season’s six races.

The team’s sharply prepared and good-looking Lamborghini is first in the GTD championship. Co-drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow are sharing the No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3. They’re three points ahead of second-place Katherine Legge, who drives the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3.

WeatherTech Racing drivers Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette are also appearing at Lime Rock. “We have had penalties in the last two races,” MacNeil said. “We just can’t have those this weekend at Lime Rock. If we do, we will go down a lap, possibly two. I like the short track configuration, it makes for tight racing. The key for us with the WeatherTech Ferrari will be to have a confident handling car coming down the hill through the last two turns. Our Ferrari shines through high-speed corners, so I am looking forward to this weekend. We need to have a positive race and result this Saturday.”

AutoInformed.com on IMSA sports car racing

Hawksworth is fast in the Lexus RC F GT3 this season. The 27-year-old Bradford, England native has registered the GTD pole position with track record times in three of the last four races, including Motorsport Park, Watkins Glen and Mid-Ohio.

Lexus and 3GT Racing are coming off a podium finish at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park when the No. 14 RC F GT3 earned a second-place result in the GTD class with drivers Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli. Along with the podium finish, both of the team’s RC F GT3 entries ran in the top-three for the majority of the race – with the two Lexus’ posting quickest laps among GTD entrants – and combined to lead 58 laps on the 10-corner road course in Canada. Marcelli led 25 laps late in the sprint event to register the second podium finish for 3GT Racing and the Lexus RC F GT3 after the No. 14 Lexus also claimed the team’s first victory at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May. Jack Hawksworth started from the pole position and led the first 33 circuits behind the wheel of the No. 15 Lexus, including the quickest lap in class, and finished seventh in class with co-driver David Heinemeier Hansson.

Hawksworth has also registered the quickest lap times in class during racing competition  He currently ranks fifth in the GTD championship point standings after six races this season. In last year’s Lime Rock event, Hawksworth led 29 laps before finishing seventh in class.

Lexus is currently fourth in IMSA’s provisional GTD manufacturer points, and the 3GT Racing No. 15 Lexus ranks fifth in the team championship standings and the No. 14 RC F GT3 sits seventh in points with five races remaining on the IMSA schedule.

“From the point you arrive it’s a beautiful part of the country, the area around the race track is gorgeous and the facility, the maintenance – it’s all high quality. The track itself has the nickname the bullring and it’s true, said Kyle Marcelli, No. 14 Lexus RC F GT3.  It’s a short track and in my mind there are six corners and one left hand corner, so you have to set the car up in a very unique way and the racing can be a bit aggressive because it’s so short unlike many on the schedule from the setup to the race –  it’s very different.”

 

About Ken Zino

Ken Zino is an auto industry veteran with global experience in print and electronic media. He has auto testing, marketing, public relations and communications expertise garnered while working in Asia, Europe and the U.S.
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