Cooper MacNeil (Hinsdale, Ill.) and Kevin Estre (France) finished third in today’s running of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway (VIR).
MacNeil started the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR from his third-place qualifying position. The area was covered in rain leading up to the start stopping just in time for the green flag. Under damp track conditions MacNeil took a measured approach to keep the car on track and in a competitive position. He handed the car over to Estre who took off hunting down the Corvettes. One hour and 13 minutes into the race a caution flag flew bunching the field. The three GTLM competitors came to pit lane for fuel and tires. With 50-minutes remaining Estre got side-by-side with the No. 3 Corvette through the esses and took the lead, using a little muscle, for approximately four turns until the No. 4 Corvette returned the aggression and forced him off the track at the exit of the signature Oak Tree turn putting him back to third.
Once again pursuing the front runners with 38-minutes to go Estre carried too much speed into the entry of the Oak Tree and rubbed the wall. One lap later he took his final pit stop. The race went green the rest of the way and the team settled for third
“The track was damp for my stint at the beginning which made it a little tricky,” MacNeil said. “The WeatherTech Racing Porsche was handling well and I was able to keep it on the track and in one piece for Kevin. We pitted early which was good as that put us on the same strategy as the Corvettes after the yellow. There was some good hard racing with those guys. Some fair and maybe some not so fair. That is GTLM, its hard and scrappy racing. You hope to be on the good end of it, but today we weren’t. We have one more on the IMSA calendar left Petit Le Mans, which I have won twice before so hoping for some good luck there in November.”
“We got lucky with the yellow which helped and that put us up with the Corvettes,” Estre said. “I think we had more pace than them. I had some banging doors with Nick (Tandy) at the restart which was unnecessary because I passed him already. I could also pass the three car and then Nick went hard again on my side. I went back to P2 and lost some time in traffic and then I pushed too hard trying to come back. I made a mistake in Oak Tree and hit the barrier. I was able to come back but it was too late. It’s a shame.”
MacNeil will compete in the European Le Mans Series season finally to run at Portimao, Oct. 23-24.
The IMSA WeatherTech Championship will conclude its season with the traditional running of Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, Nov. 11-13.
Source. Kyle Chura/WeatherTech Racing