Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Alessandro Balzan (Italy) finished today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship Hyundai Monterey Sports Car Championship seventh in GTD at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
In qualifying this morning, MacNeil had the controls of the No. 63 WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 Evo. He was able to post a time of 1:25.359 on his last flying lap to put the Scuderia Corsa prepared red-white-and-blue Ferrari on the second row in GTD in third.
At the drop of the green MacNeil was able to navigate the always treacherous Turn 1 hairpin. He was able to keep the WeatherTech Racing Ferrari under him with degrading tires before turning it over to Balzan in the top five. The Italian jumped in and ran as high as third during his stint. The key moment of the race came with just 20-minutes remaining when the races only caution flag came out. With the field bunched together he was running in fourth with a shot at the podium. When the race resumed, with just 17-minutes to go, he was hit from behind by the Porsche of Pat Long in Turn 1. When he recovered, he was in eighth place and was able to complete one more pass for seventh at the checker.
“It was quite difficult even from the beginning,” MacNeil said. “We put seven laps on the tires in qualifying this morning. Every lap just eats the tires here at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. We had to play the tire management game from the beginning. The Michelin tires held up well, but they can only do so much. I got passed at the start by the 57 car. From then I was able to maintain position and save the tires. It was difficult to drive because it wanted to swap ends in each corner. I was able to keep the Aston behind me; it was a great battle with my old Alex Job teammate Ian James. It was unfortunate we got spun at the end, which you don’t like to see, on to Sebring.”
Balzan became a victim of WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca’s Turn 1.
“I really took care of the tires on the frontend of both my stints,” Balzan said. “I was able to get a gap to P5 and P6. It was a battle to get every tenth out of the lap. It is frustrating. A top five result was possible after our win at Petit Le Mans. I got touched in the rear. I am ok with hard racing when it is door-to-door, but this kind of racing is not too professional. But we move on. I am happy that the WeatherTech Ferrari is not damaged. Frustrating weekend. Cooper qualified well. We had to deal with tire degradation all race. We almost had a good finish. We got P7. We look ahead to Sebring.”
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship will travel to Sebring International Raceway for the season finale and delayed running of the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, November 12-14.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing