Messy start ended up to be a good race

Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix was run on WeatherTech Laguna Seca, and was at the same time the penultimate round in WeatherTech Sportscar Championship.

Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing #10 with Renger van der Zande and Jordan Taylor started the race ahead of the two Acura Team Penske #6 and #7, with respectively Dane Cameron/Juan Pablo Montoya and Helio Castroneves/Ricky Taylor.

In GTLM, Corvette Racing #4 with Oliver Gavin and Tommy Milner had taken Pole Position, in front of Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66 with Joey Hand and Dirk Müller, followed by Corvette teammates #3 with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in third position.

Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente were the fastest couple in Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 in the GTD category, ahead of Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 with Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow, while Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen in Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33 were third.

Christina Nielsen and Patrick Long in Wright Motorsports Porsche #59 started the race from P4, while David Heinemeier Hansson with Jack Hawksworth in 3GT Racing Lexus #15 would start from seventh.

Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48, Magnus Racing Audi #44, Scuderia Corsa Ferrari #64
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

There was already drama before the cars passed the green flag, with a lot of pushing in the middle of the field. Mustang Sampling Cadillac #5 with Joao Barbosa got hit by JDC-Miller Motorsports #99 with Misha Goikhberg, which sent #5 out in a wild spin, with the GTLM cars flying around him. Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66 clipped the rear end of #5, and it ripped the front tire of Dirk Müller’s car. Nick Tandy in Porsche #911 couldn’t avoid the black Cadillac either, and directly hit poor Barbosa on the side. #911 was the only one of the three cars that was able to continue and go back to the pits, where the mechanics could start repairing the car.

After 15 minutes of clean-up, the race was resumed. Both Acuras were ahead in the Prototype class, but there was chaos in the GTD field.

There were pushing and shoving between 3GT Racing Lexus #14 and Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86, while innocent Turner Motorsport BMW #96 was also involved in the crash. Meyer Shank Racing Acura #93 got it worst, where the most of the front part was off, and the bonnet was open, so poor Justin Marks made it to the pits by the skin of his teeth

It deployed another SC period, so that the debris could get cleaned up.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Richard Dole

Whelen Engineering Cadillac #31 pitted by mistake, before the pitlane was open, and thus had to drive all the way through the pitlane, stopping by the exit and watching all the competitors pass by.

When the pitlane finally opened, the majority of the field used the opportunity to refuel and get four new tires on.

Even under Safety Car some things happened on the track. Tequila Patron ESM Nissan #2 and JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA #99 bumped each other under SC, when they disagreed about who came out of the pits first after their pitstop. The stewards would look into it.

CORE autosport ORECA #54 stopped on the track, where Jon Bennett stopped just before the pit exit and waited for the first thirty minutes, so that they could change the driver to Colin Braun, who then would drive the rest of the race without driver change.

When the green flag was out, Whelen Engineering Cadillac #31 overtook JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA #85 right away, in the battle for tenth place.

Corvette was 1-2 in GTLM with #4 ahead of #3, followed by BMW Team RLL #25.

Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing #10
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

In GTD, Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 was leading, ahead of Wright Motorsports Porsche #58 and Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86.

Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing #10 suddenly slowed down, with smoke from the back of the car. Jordan Taylor had to park the car on the track, which deployed the third SC of the day.

The whole GTLM field made it just before the pitlane was closed, so they could refuel and change tires. It caused the two Corvettes to swap places, so Magnussen in #3 led ahead of Gavin in #4.

The race got restarted, but again there was chaos in Turn 1, where Tequila Patron ESM Nissan #22 spun around, after Pipo Derani attempted to dive on JDC-Miller Motorsports #99. Derani could continue, but he had to work himself up through the field.

On the next lap, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 had a detour on the gravel, after bumping wheels with Corvette Racing #4. It broke the steering wheel on #67, so they had to pit and get a lengthy repair.

BMW Team RLL #25
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Michael L. Levitt

Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 fell back from the lead in GTD to sixth place, since the tires on Madison Snow’s car was totally finished. They managed to pit and change to Bryan Sellers.

Mazda Team Joest #55 went up to second place, after the first round of pitstop, while the other Mazda #77 was P4.

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 took the lead in GTD category, ahead of 3GT Racing Lexus #14 and Turner Motorsport BMW #96.

BMW Team RLL #24 was ahead in GTLM, followed by Porsche #912 and Corvette #3, though the latter had a different strategy from #24 and #912.

Mazda Team Joest #77 couldn’t restart the car after the second pitstop round. It cost them a lap, before they could breathe a life in the car again. It isn’t the first time this year, that they’ve had problems to restart the car after a pitstop, so they should probably look into that before the 2019 season.

Acura Team Penske #6 with Juan Pablo Montoya did a driver mistake on the way out of the pitlane, where he went off to the gravel before coming back to the track.

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86, Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Richard Dole

Turner Motorsport BMW #96 slowed down on the track, where Bill Auberlen tried to crawl back to the pits. But it didn’t work, since he stalled on the way up the hill.

More teams managed to pit, just before a Safety Car on the track due to the stranded #96. Unfortunately, Corvette Racing #3 just missed it, and it cost them several places in the GTLM field.

Mazda Team Joest #55 led the race, ahead of Whelen Engineering Cadillac #31 and Acura Team Penske #6. In GTLM class, BMW Team RLL #24 was ahead, followed by Corvette #3 and #4, while Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 led GTD in front of 3GT Racing #14, Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33, and 3GT Racing Lexus #15. Wright Motorsports Porsche #8 was all the way back on P10 – but they were also on different strategies.

When the race got restarted, Garcia in #3 jumped right up to first place in GTLM.

Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #66 and #67 were repaired enough to be back on the track, and tried to score more points. They were both still in for the championship battle, so every single point could be crucial at the end of the season.

There was a war in GTD from fifth to twelfth, where they drove in one long train.

While Harry Tincknell in Mazda Team Joest #55 had a 13-second lead, #31, #6, #7, #22, #54 and #52 were only four seconds apart from each other.

Derani in #22 was really on the move. He was up to P4, and was chasing for the podium.

Mazda Team Joest #55, Mazda Team Joest #77, AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports #52
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

Tequila Patron ESM Nissan #2 started to smoke from the rear wheel, after Ryan Dalziel had a contact with AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA #52. It gave Gustavo Yacaman in #52 a drive-through penalty.

With about 45 minutes left, the last round of pitstop started. 3GT Racing Lexus #14 had problems to change one of the tires, so they lost valuable seconds.

The two Acura Team Penske cars went to attack each other, when Juan Pablo Montoya in #6 wouldn’t drive behind Ricky Taylor in #7 anymore. There was a bit rubbing between the two cars, but nothing serious, and #6 came in front.

#55 spun with 33 minutes left on the clock, and had to wait for a very long time for a gap in the traffic. It was due to a contact with AFS/PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports ORECA #52, but it was Tincknell in #55 who dived a little late. A stupid and expensive mistake, in what could have been a certain Mazda victory.

Half an hour left, #22 was in front, followed by#6, #7, #54, #31 and #55 in the Prototype category. BMW Team RLL #24 ahead of #25 and Porsche #912 in GTLM, with #73 in front of #33 and #48 in GTD.

Acura Team Penske #6 fell back, so #7 and #54 were now second and third, while #54 was all the way up behind #7, with twenty minutes left.

Top 4 in GTD was only one and a half seconds from each other, with 11 minutes left of the race. #73 was ahead of #33, #48 and #86.

BMW Team RLL #24 had to pit, with 8 minutes left and thus lost the lead in GTLM.

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 was on the move in GTD, where Alvaro Parente first overtook Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 and then Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33. And then set the sight on Park Place Motorsports Porsche #73, that he drove past one lap later.

With three minutes left, there was more contact between the cars. Acura Team Penske #7 drove into Scuderia Corsa #63 and #64, which broke the rear suspension of Ricky Taylor in #7. It cost him what could be a certain place on the podium.

Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports #22
Photo Courtesy of IMSA / Jake Galsted

Tequila Patron Extreme Speed Motorsports #22 with Pipo Derani and Johannes van Overbeek won the race, ahead of CORE autosport #54 with Colin Braun and Jon Bennett, and Acura Team Penske #6 with Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron.

In GTLM, BMW Team RLL #25 won, with Connor de Phillippi and Alexander Sims behind the wheel, followed by Porsche #912 with Laurens Vanthoor and Earl Bamber, with Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia in Corvette Racing #3 in third.

Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 with Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente won GTD class, ahead of Park Place Motorsports Porsche #73 with Patrick Lindsey and Jörg Bergmeister, and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33 with Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating grabbed the last place on the podium.

David Heinemeier Hansson and Jack Hawksworth in 3GT Racing Lexus #15 finished the race in P7 in GTD, while Wright Motorsports Porsche #58 with Christina Nielsen and Patrick Long finished 11th on the same class.

The race today really made a big shake up in the championships. Whelen Engineering Cadillac #31 leads ahead of CORE autosport ORECA #54 and Konica Minolta Wayne Taylor Racing #10. Acura Team Penske #6 and JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA #99 are the last two cars that still have theoretical chance to win the Prototype championship, but the three cars ahead of them have to really mess up.

In GTLM, Corvette Racing #3 has extended their lead to Ford Chip Ganassi Racing #67 and #66. If #3 starts the race, they can’t finish worse than second in the championship, and as long as they finish in top 5 in the finale, it doesn’t matter where #67 finishes. #66 can only win the championship if #3 can’t start the race at all.

Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini #48 keeps the lead in GTD, followed by Meyer Shank Racing Acura #86 and Mercedes-AMG Team Riley Motorsports #33. Scuderia Corsa #63 have a little theoretical chance to defend the title this year, but then #48 would have to miss the start – which is also the only way for #33 to win.

Everything will be decided on 13 October, when 10 hour race of Petit Le mans at Road Atlanta will be run.

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