The Konica Minolta Cadillac racing team won today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
Cadillac Petit Le Mans Finishing Order: 1. No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R, Renger Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe, and Scott Dixon4. No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac DPi-V.R, Gabriel Aubry, Matheus Leist, Chris Miller5. No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac DPi-V.R, Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani, Filipe Albuquerque8. No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac DPi-V.R, Sebastian Bourdais, Tristan Vautier, Loic Duval
A late race incident between the No. 31 Mustang Sampling Cadillac and the No. 7 Acura handed the win to the Konica Minolta Cadillac team. Renger Van Der Zande had the car in a solid third position, about 12-seconds behind the 31 and the 7. When the 7 got into the side of the 31 going into Turn 6 sending the red Whelen Engineering Cadillac into the gravel trap. The Dutchman was able to take over the lead in the black No. 10 Cadillac. With six minutes remaining the race restarted. Just one lap into the restart the race went yellow again ending the event with the Konica Minolta Cadillac taking the win.
Van Der Zande, Ryan Briscoe and Scott Dixon gave the Wayne Taylor led Konica Minolta Cadillac team their second win on the season, the first being the Rolex 24 Hour At Daytona in January.
“We had this before with the fuel saving,” Van Der Zande said. “We came back from being 26 seconds down all the way to within 12 seconds of the front two cars. They had the accident in Turn 6 and then we passed them for the win. It is about being persistent and working as a team to stay in it until the end.
“Earlier in the race I had two times where the car completely shut-off. We went to zero power. I had to reboot the car. We shut down the lights and the cooling fans for the drivers and all of the power steering that we could to save the battery. The Cadillac is such a good car, it was flying. It is such a special dude, if it’s a dude?”
The No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac trio of drivers Felipe Nasr, Pipo Derani and Filipe Albuquerque were a fixture at the front of the field for most of the race. With the lead swapping amongst pit stops, the 31 team had the pace of the Cadillac competitors all day. To add to the disappointment at the end no penalty was assessed on the Acura team, so the Whelen Engineering Cadillac ended up finishing fifth. However, the Action Express managed team lead each segment of the IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup DPi points on the day.
“I told him I always had a lot of respect for him,” Derani said following his post-race discussion with Taylor. “I was in the lead. I was out in front and he pushed me out. That’s it. There’s not much to say. Unfortunately, we lost the race. We did everything we could with 10 laps to go. We were leading the race and he just pushed me out on a desperate move to try to go to the lead. It was a mistake on his side. I hope he sleeps on it and thinks a little bit because he thinks it’s my fault. I don’t know what I could have done differently. We’ll take the positives out of this race. We had a fantastic race. Acura was much quicker than us. But, we were there at the end leading the race. I put two fantastic passes on him after losing the lead on the pit stop again. We did everything we could [to win]. Everyone on the Whelen Engineering car did a fantastic job. I lost a little bit of respect for him [Taylor] and his teammates for trying to accuse me of doing something wrong. But, it is what it is. I’m not at the racetrack to make friends. I want to win the next one.”
The No. 5 Mustang Sampling Cadillac team ran a strong race, but didn’t have the ultimate pace of the podium finishers. Sebastien Bourdais, Tristan Vautier and Loic Duval came to the checker in a very competitive fourth place.
“We had a good race,” Vautier said. “We were able to keep a good pace, but really didn’t have the ultimate speed to fight for the win. Loic and Sebastien drove great all day and the JDC-Miller Motorsports team did the job with the strategy and pit stops. With what happened at the end I was hoping we would be able to sneak onto the podium but we just missed it finishing fourth.”
The No. 85 JDC-Miller Motorsports Cadillac with Gabriel Aubry, Chris Miller, and Matheus Leist driving had an early issue that dictated their eighth place finish. Aubry was going into Turn 1 just 20-minutes into race when he went off and had contact with the wall. He was able to bring the car to the garage where the team made the repairs and returned him to the race some 54 laps down.
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship with travel to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca for the penultimate round of the season to run October 30-November 1.
Source. Kyle Chura/Cadillac Racing/Photo. Richard Prince