Fireworks At Petit

Overall winning Cadillac. [Photo by Roger Warrick]

Overall winning Cadillac. [Photo by Roger Warrick]


By Jack Webster & Eddie LePine

Traditionally, at the conclusion of Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the track sets off fireworks to celebrate the conclusion of the classic 10-hour endurance contest. In the 2020 edition of the event, the actual fireworks took place entering Turn 6 with 9 hours and 49 minutes elapsed in the race.

That is the moment when Ricky Taylor in the Penske Acura dived inside of the leading Whelen Engineering Cadillac of Pipo Derani in an attempt to take the overall lead and the win with only 11 minutes remaining in the race.

In a move that was discussed heatedly in the paddock by both teams and drivers immediately after the race was over, in the end Taylor didn’t make the pass, Derani turned into him, both cars spun off and the overall victory was handed to the Wayne Taylor led Konica Minolta Cadillac squad with drivers Renger van der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon celebrating the victory in the paddock while the track supplied fireworks went off overhead.

Depending on one’s point of view, either driver involved in the incident (Taylor or Derani) could be blamed for the unfortunate outcome, but frankly the consensus of opinion was that it was a “racing incident” and there would be no official penalty handed down by the IMSA officials. The bottom line: with 11 minutes to go in a closely contested race, anything can happen.

Once again, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship provided close racing, excellent competition and a thrilling show for the fans.

The overall win by the Konica Minolta squad puts them firmly in the lead of the championship (for drivers, teams and manufacturers) with only two events remaining on the heavily revised 2020 COVID-19 modified schedule. However, even with the result for the Penske Acura at Petit (Taylor recovered for 2nd place), Team Penske and drivers Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor hold onto 2nd place in the driver’s championship and 2nd place in the Team and Manufacturer championship as well, and with two events remaining, well within striking distance of the championship title.

It appears that adding Scott Dixon to the lineup for Motul Petit Le Mans was another stroke of genius by Wayne Taylor. Scott last appeared with the team at the season opening Rolex 24 at Daytona, where he also took the car to victory lane. As Renger van der Zande said after the race: “This guy (Scott Dixon) shows up two times and we win, maybe we should keep him around a little bit.”

In other classes, it was an easy win for the #8 Tower Motorsport by Starworks ORECA, taking the class victory by 5 laps with drivers Jarano, Jensen and van Uitert sharing driving duties.

In GTLM, Porsche finally got the monkey off its back with their first victory of the season, as the #911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 piloted by Tandy, Makowiecki and Campbell took the win over the always strong #3 Corvette C8.R of Garcia, Taylor and Catsburg. With their second-place finish, Corvette Racing enhances their championship hopes, as they still lead the driver’s, team and manufacturer standings going into the final two races.

In GTD, the lone Ferrari in the field, the WeatherTech Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of MacNeil, Balzan and Westphal took the class win over a very strong field consisting of entries from Lexus, Acura, Porsche, Lamborghini, Aston Martin and BMW. With only two races remaining on the schedule, in GTD it is anyone’s championship to win. This class is easily the most competitive one in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

Next up: The Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, November 1.

And finally, all will be on the line and all the championships decided at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on November 14.

See you there.






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