The streak of Chamber of Commerce conditions that blessed the first three rounds of the 13-race 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship continued Sunday, May 4th at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca where the fourth round of the championship was witnessed by an enthusiastic and large turnout of motorsports fans. The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix Powered by Mazda staged the contest in a split format: up first were the 10 Prototype Challenge and 22 GT Daytona cars for a two-hour run on the 11 turn, 2.23 mile track, after which the 12 Prototype and 11 GT Le Mans cars had their turn.
GT Daytona Race Report
A would-be race for second wound up being the battle for the win in the GT Daytona (GTD) class in the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda after the GT Daytona class-leading Audi R8 LMS of Spencer Pumpelly ran out of fuel coming out of the famed Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca Corkscrew on the final lap of Sunday’s two-hour race.
Pumpelly’s misfortune played right into the hands of Dane Cameron in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 started by Markus Palttala. Cameron held off a hard-charging Christopher Haase in the final corner to pick up the win. Meanwhile, Pumpelly stopped approximately 100 yards short of the start-finish line for a heartbreaking sixth-place finish.
“If they were going to finish or not was outside of our control,” Cameron said of trying to catch Pumpelly, who held an 11-second lead at the white flag. “He was too far ahead to catch him on pace so my only concern was to maintain the [second-place] position and make sure there was no way the Audi was going to get around us.
“Once I was clear of [Pumpelly] I was pretty sure I could get a good enough exit off the last corner. The Audi was quicker than us on top speed, but not until we came over the top of the hill [after the start-finish line]. I thought as long as he was beside us on the final corner we would be able to seal the deal.”
Cameron was able to do just that, beating Haase’s No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS started by Bryce Miller to the stripe by 0.168 seconds. Haase found himself battling Cameron for the win after Alex Job Racing’s pair of Porsche 911 GT Americas pitted for fuel from the second and third positions with less than seven minutes remaining. (See Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey – Photo Gallery)
Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Fueled by Fresh From Florida GTD winners Andy Lally and John Potter finished third in the No. 44 Magnus Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
An early-race spin forced Turner Motorsport to alter its pit strategy and top off its fuel with one hour remaining, giving them more than enough fuel to make it the distance. The same could not be said for Pumpelly who took the lead on the first round of pit stops and quickly went into fuel conversation mode, saving fuel for much of his one-hour, 17-minute stint.
“Everything said we should have been good, and now that we missed it by that little bit, I’m kicking myself for every [one minute] 31 [second] lap time that could have been a [one minute] 32 [second] lap,” said Pumpelly. “This is a new car for us, this our third race with it and there’s things we just don’t know yet. This is the first time we’ve been in this situation.”
Prototype Challenge Race Report
In the race combining the Prototype Challenge (PC) and GT Daytona (GTD) classes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Renger van der Zande brought Starworks’ No. 8 ORECA FLM09 home 12.234 seconds in front of the second-place No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Sean Rayhall.
Rayhall had gotten reasonably close to van der Zande, but spun in Turn 10 with 11 minutes remaining.
“To get close is one thing … to get past is another thing,” said van der Zande, who co-drove with German Mirco Schultis. “If you know that you can control the race. Leading the race is the best thing you can have [going for you]. Take the risk and control the traffic.”
Van der Zande, from the Netherlands, actually downplayed Rayhall’s late-race charge that cut a sizable advantage to merely a few seconds, saying, “I was just conserving on everything at that point … early lifting … taking it easy on the tires. I knew I had [only] two [fresh] and he had four tires.
Schultis started the No. 8 and ran 41 minutes, remarkably surviving an early-race incident in Turn 8 with the No. 54 CORE autosport entry of Jon Bennett, who co-leads the championship standings with co-drive Colin Braun. (See Continental Tire Grand Prix of Monterey – Photo Gallery)
“I thought that was the end,” Schultis said, “Somehow I got out of the dirt and on the track and somehow it was still running.”
Was it ever. Van der Zande would grab the lead with 23 minutes remaining, when the pole-sitting No. 09 entry driven by Bruno Junqueira of RSR Racing pitted for tires and fuel. Aside from Rayhall’s temporary challenge, it was routine from there.
Junqueira and co-driver Duncan Ende finished third.