VIR with GT battle in 160 minutes

The second pure GT race this year was run at Virginia International Raceway for WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2018.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 had taken Pole Position ahead of Porsche #911, BMW Team RLL #24, and Corvette Racing #3 with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia on board.

In GTD, Jack Hawksworth took Pole Position for 3GT Racing Lexus #15. Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33 qualified second, in front of Turner Motorsport BMW #96 and 3GT Racing Lexus #14.

Prior to the weekend, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 was leading the GTLM championship ahead of Corvette #3 and Ford #66. In GTD, it was Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 leading the championship, followed by Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33. #48 and #86 had to start the race from fifth and eighth positions respectively.

3GT Racing Lexus #15, Turner Motorsport BMW #96, Wright Motorsports #96 etc
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

When the race started, BMW Team RLL was the one with most gain, as both cars went past Porsche #911 already in the first corner.

At the same time, Jeroen Bleekemolen in #33 took the lead in GTD ahead of Hawksworth in #15 and Bill Auberlen in #96.

There was, however, commotion later on the first lap, where Corvette Racing #4 and Porsche #912 had a contact on the back straight. It punctured #912’s rear tire, so Earl Bamber had to pit right away. #912 got a drive-through penalty for changing lane.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Scott R LePage

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #93 already pitted after five minutes into the race due to a technical problem.

Garcia in Corvette Racing #3 went to attack Patrick Pilet in Porsche #911, but the yellow American car couldn’t get past the white, red and black German car in the first attempt. After some intense pressure from the Spaniard, Garcia finally managed to overtake Pilet.

After half an hour of racing, top six in GTLM was separated by less than five seconds, while top four in GTD only had two seconds between them.

Corvette Racing #3 & Porsche #912
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 was the first GTLM car to pit. It left the two BMW Team RLL cars to lead the race until they pitted.

#67 got into trouble when they had to pit again due to a technical problem. The mechanic must push the car back to the garage and change the clutch right away.

David Heinemeier Hansson and Christina Nielsen both came to into their respective cars after the first round of pitstop, and they were second and fourth in the class respectively.

However, Heinemeier Hansson hadn’t been driving for long before the car got hit by BMW Team RLL #25. #25 lost control of the car, when Alexander Sims drove side by side with Dirk Müller. Sims and Müller fought for a position, while Heinemeier Hansson got pushed of the track in high speed. He got a puncture on the right rear tire, but otherwise the car was okay.

The stewards looked into it and gave #25 a drive-through penalty for initiating the contact.

BMW Team RLL #25
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Scott R LePage

Porsche #911 had taken the lead in the GTLM class, ahead of BMW Team RLL #24, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66, and Corvette Racing #3. In GTD, it was Turner Motorsport BMW #96 in front, followed by Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33 and Wright Motorsports Porsche #58.

Porsche #911 went into smoke when the engine gave up. It deployed a Safety Car, to get Tandy’s car removed.

It created a queue in the pitlane, since all the GTLM cars pitted to refuel, except for BMW Team RLL #24.

After the pitstops, #24 was in the lead, ahead of #3, #912, #66, #4, and #25. Ford had breathed life into #67 again, but they were ten laps behind.

Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33 & Scuderia Corsa Ferrari #63
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

The GTD standing was Magnus Racing Audi #44, ahead of Scuderia Corsa Ferrari #63, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33, 3GT Racing Lexus #14, and Wright Motorsports Porsche #58.

When the race got restarted, Christina Nielsen in #58 went to attack Dominik Baumann in #14 right away, and managed to get past.

There was drama for the championship leader Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 in GTD. Bryan Sellers and Katherine Legge in Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 brushed each other’s car, in a duel for the lead in the championship. Both cars could continue, but there were some carbon fiber part hanging on #48.

BMW Team RLL #25 had taken the lead in the GTLM class, since they stayed on the track longer than everybody else. Sims tried to extend the gap, so that they could keep the lead after their last pitstop.

3GT Racing Lexus #14
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

After the problems earlier int he race, Meyer Shank Racing Acura #93 came out in front of the GTD class, in front of Magnus Racing Audi #44.

Meanwhile, there was a close battle between Patrick Long in Wright Motorsports Porsche #58 and Gunnar Jeannette in Scuderia Corsa Ferrari #63. PLong managed to get past, after Jeannette went wide in several occassions.

There was a wild battle for the lead in GTD between #93 and #44 with a light contact, and while the two fought for it, #33 would like to join the battle. Meanwhile, #14 came closer and closer to top three. It ended up with Lally in #44 outbraked #93, but there was another contact between the two cars. #33 used it to their advantage and went past both, but then Bleekemolen in #33 got hit from behind by Lally. Baumann used the chance to snatch the lead.

Andy Lally in Magnus Racing Audi #44 got a drive-through penalty for the contact with #33, and thus was out of the podium place.

Alexander Sims in BMW Team RLL #25 pitted with 24 minutes left and kept the lead. Jan Magnussen was about ten seconds behind him in second place in Corvette Racing #3, with two further seconds down to Jesse Krohn in BMW Team RLL #24.

3GT Racing Lexus #14 & Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

Long was still in a progress in GTD and was fourth with 20 minutes left in the clock – right behind P3, while both were catching up to P2. Legge was second, but she went off over the grass in #86 and had to drive with one eye fixed on the temperature indicator on the car.

With three minutes left, the top three in GTD was #14 ahead of #86 and #58, bumper against bumper. On the very last lap of the race, Legge in #86 attempted to overtake Baumann in #14, but instead Long in #58 went past Legge in #86.

The result after the chequered flag was 3GT Racing Lexus #14 with Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli won the GTD class, ahead of Wright Motorsports Porsche #58 with Christina Nielsen and Patrick Long, while Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 with Katherine Legge and Mario Farnbacher finished third.

BMW Team RLL #25 with Alexander Sims and Connor de Phillippi won the race, in front of Corvette Racing #3 with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, while Jesse Krohn and John Edwards in BMW Team RLL #24 finished in third place. It was the first victory for BMW’s M8 GTE car, that was introduced at the start of the season.

After the weekend’s race, Jan Magnussen and Corvette Racing #3 had the lead in GTLM championship, in front of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 and #66.

Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 kept the lead in GTD, ahead of Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33.

The teams will be back on the track on 8 and 9 September, where both GTD and GTLM, and last but not least the Prototypes will all meet at WeatherTech Laguna Seca for the penultimate round of WeatherTech SportsCar Championship 2018.

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