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IMSA AT VIR: No. 4 Corvette Wins Third Straight in VIR Brawl; Pfaff Porsche wins GTD class

Tandy, Milner Each Score Third Career Win at VIRginia International Raceway

Alton, VA, Oct 9/21 (by Jeff Olson/IMSA): This has been an unusual farewell season for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. That doesn’t mean it has lacked purpose or meaning for the competitors. In the penultimate race before the class goes away, Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner teamed Saturday to win the Michelin GT Challenge At VIRginia International Raceway.

After Tandy recovered from contact with Kevin Estre late in the race, he finished the victorious run by the No. 4 Corvette, crossing the finish line 17.852 seconds ahead of the team’s No. 3 sister car co-driven by Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia.

Tandy and Milner moved to within 127 points of Taylor and Garcia with only the season finale — the Motul Petit Le Mans on Nov. 13 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta — remaining.

“This whole year as a team has been really, really good,” Milner said. “We had a really good car at Daytona and Sebring, but things didn’t go our way. It was frustrating for us and frustrating for our crew guys. Everybody buckled down and focused on getting every last detail just right, so we get these wins. I’m a firm believer in making your own luck.”

Lately, they have made their own luck and more. The win was the third consecutive for the No. 4 Corvette, which had fallen behind the No. 3 Corvette early in the season, and it came despite contact that could have cost the No. 4 car dearly.

Corvette Racing has yet to reveal its plans for 2022 (probably moving to the new GRD-Pro class), but the battle for the soon-to-be defunct class still carries weight for the team.

On Friday, Milner broke Taylor’s five-race pole-winning streak by qualifying the No. 4 car just 0.003 seconds ahead of Taylor in the No. 3 car around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile VIR course. On Saturday, the two cars traded the lead before Tandy was able to pull away from Garcia in the final minutes of the 2-hour 40-minute race.

After the mid-race incident, Estre and Cooper MacNeil finished third, 38.655 seconds off the pace, in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR-19.

“It shows a way to win a race when you don’t have the fastest car,” Tandy said. “Honestly, the Porsche should have won the race. But honestly, when you kind of lose your brain and start driving stupid, stuff happens. Luckily with our Corvettes, we kept them on the track and didn’t do too much damage to them.”

As the dust settled, Milner praised Tandy for hanging on through the contact. “He made it happen today for sure,” Milner said. “Porsche definitely had pace on us for sure, but … he got a little bit, but he gave it right back. What an awesome race.”

The IMSA WeatherTech finale, the 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans will be held at Road Atlanta on November 13th

 

VIR Victory Puts No. 9 Pfaff Porsche in Catbird Seat for WeatherTech Championship GTD Title

It’s the Third Win in the Last Four Races for Robichon and Vanthoor; De Angelis and Gunn Clinch the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup

Alton, VA, Oct 9/21(by Mark Robinson/IMSA): The Canadian Pfaff Motorsports one-car team has risen to every challenge of late to take the GT Daytona (GTD) championship lead in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Zacharie Robichon and Laurens Vanthoor may have overcome the biggest obstacle of all Saturday to win the Michelin GT Challenge At VIR.

Relegated to 13th starting position following a penalty for the Pfaff crew touching the car between qualifying sessions a day prior, Robichon and Vanthoor plowed through the field to move the No. 9 Porsche into contention for the GTD win at VIRginia International Raceway.

The No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW took the lead late in the race when the No. 9 Porsche made a pit stop for tires and the BMW took fuel only. Coming out of the pits over 15 seconds behind the Porsche was closing on the BMW and it looked like they would catch and pass Auberlen in the BMW. This became moot when the BMW was involved in a late-race incident, allowing Vanthoor to scoot past and win by 2.755 seconds over the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3 shared by Madison Snow and Bryan Sellers.

“I still don’t believe it,” Vanthoor admitted in victory lane. “This is one I’m probably happiest about because yesterday was just our mistake. A stupid mistake, but we win and lose together.

“Today, the guys made up for it with triple the (effort) because what got us in front was the pit stops – amazing what they did. And Zach, the overtakes (he completed) at the start and how quickly he got by and got up to the front, that’s probably those two things that gave us the race. … I’m sorry what happened to (the BMW). We were catching them, and I would’ve liked to see a battle at the end, but it went the way it went.”

Robichon was a rocket on the opening stint, guiding the No. 9 to fifth place before the first round of pit stops. The Pfaff crew worked magic in pit lane, getting Vanthoor out in third on the first stop and into the GTD lead on the second stop. A fuel-only trip for the No. 96 BMW on the third and last stop with 20 minutes left in the two-hour, 40-minute race put Bill Auberlen back in front. But not for long.

With 11 minutes to go, Auberlen and No. 3 Corvette driver Antonio Garcia made contact in Turn 1. Auberlen’s BMW suffered a punctured right-rear tire and he had to limp the No. 96 around the entire 3.27-mile track to pit for a new tire, eventually finishing 12th. A surprised Vanthoor happily accepted the gift and kept Sellers at a distance to the checkered flag.

Vanthoor and Robichon have won three of the last four GTD races and finished second in the other. Prior to that torrid stretch, they sat fourth in the standings, 161 points from the lead. They now are on top, 50 points ahead of Sellers, Snow and the No. 1 Lamborghini. Only the Motul Petit Le Mans, the season finale, remains to determine the champion.

“It’s when you’re down that a championship team steps up and shows why they deserve to be fighting for the championship,” said Robichon. “I think we all showed that today. We showed resilience. We got kicked down yesterday but we fought back.”

Rounding out the podium was the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3, thanks to the daring last-lap pass Jack Hawksworth made on Patrick Long in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R.

• Click HERE for the Race Results

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