TUSCC: Whelen Corvette Becomes Fifth Different Winner

Usually in two-car teams in all forms of auto racing it is not always the big shot who grabs the brass ring. That fact was prominently shown as Action Express Racing’s second Chevrolet Corvette DP with Eric Curran and Dane Cameron at the helm dodged the raindrops at the Raceway at Belle Isle in Detroit to claim the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic on Saturday. In what looked on paper as a chance for one of the previous four overall race winners in 2015 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship action to date to claim a second score of the season, the No. 31 Whelen Engineering-backed entry slowly moved its way forward and took full advantage of two race restarts to vault to the top of the standings with 30 minutes remaining, out of the original 100 minute distance.

Cameron, who made several strong charges late in GT Daytona-classed events last year for Turner Motorsport, began to move up as the off and on rainfall created several damp spots on the track. Pressing Wayne Taylor Racing’s Jordan Taylor for several laps, Cameron found a way past the No. 10 Corvette in turn three and began to pull away from the pack, with Taylor only closing back within range due to traffic. While Cameron would be home free to the finish, the final two places on the podium would be shuffled among the other Prototype class runners. Taylor’s shot at a runner up finish was dashed with ten minutes to go when he was assessed a penalty for avoidable contact after spinning Scuderia Corsa GTD competitor Townsend Bell out of the race at turn 13.

With WTR out of the running, the stage was set for an Action Express Racing 1-2 finish as Joao Barbosa, whose No. 5 Corvette had led early in the hands of co-driver Christian Fittipaldi jumped to second. However, the Mustang Sampling supported machine also would lose out as Barbosa spun out on the final lap in turn three. Although the Portuguese pilot would salvage third place at the checkered flag, the incident allowed Oswaldo Negri, Jr. to essentially come from nowhere to claim runner up honors in the Micheal Shank Racing Ligier-Honda coupe, the best finish for an LMP-2 eligible car this season to date. The result for Negri and John Pew was certainly not expected as the MSR machine had been unable to match the pace of the Corvette DPs all weekend, yet using a more conservative approach, managed to stay out of trouble and claim a much better than planned output.

The win for Cameron and Curran is their first in the Prototype division and makes them the fifth different team to claim an overall victory in the first five events of 2015. Only MSR, SpeedSource Mazda, and DeltaWing who skipped Detroit are the only full time runners yet to visit the winner’s circle this season.

Bad luck also preyed upon the top three teams in the Prototype Challenge class points table, as Starworks Motorsport’s Renger van der Zande and Mirco Schultis put to rest their own recent run of misfortune to claim their first win of 2015. Despite only six PC cars making the trip to Motown this weekend, five of the six entries were in contention for the win at some point during the 100-minute time limit.

The lone exception to this was championship table leaders CORE autosport, who once again remain winless in PC after four races. Team owner Jon Bennett made contact with the barriers on the opening lap, and lost four laps in the pits making suspension repairs, knocking the No. 54 car out of the running before star driver Colin Braun took over. The two previous winners in PC this season, were each eliminated in the same incident as RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira crashed in turn one, and PR1-Mathiasen Motorsports had nowhere to go and was also delayed greatly by the impact.

As a result, it looked as if Performance Tech Motorsports might claim their maiden TUSCC class win, until Starworks’ Renger van der Zande charged past PTM’s James Vance in the final 30 minutes and would roll to the victory by a 16 second margin over the JDC-Miller Motorsports entry of Stephen Simpson and Mikhail Goikhberg was also outlasted Vance and co-driver James French to take second. PTM would settle for third at the finish.

Finally in GT Daytona, Team Seattle’s Porsche GT America squad would have better luck as opposed to their Prototype counterparts, as they would successfully grab their second win of 2015, with a dominant effort from Mario Farnbacher and Ian James. The only real close call the team dealt with was earlier in the proceedings when Farnbacher nearly caused a pileup on the first restart of the race when he got stuck among the Prototype leaders, forcing several to take evasive action to avoid him. Outside of that, the Team Seattle-Alex Job backed entrant was never challenged by any of the other nine GTD rivals on the Detroit grid, claiming victory by three seconds over the TRG-Aston Martin V12 Vantage of James Davison and Christina Nielsen, while the pole winning Audi R8 of Paul Miller Racing’s Dion Von Moltke and Christopher Haase rounded out the podium.

The race however, was marred by a major crash after the checkered flag involving several GTD entrants including the TRG Aston Martin, the Wright Motorsports Porsche, and the other Alex Job Racing Porsche. No drivers suffered injuries in the accident, but there was a question about the condition of some of the safety workers who were on the scene of the Wright machine when the TRG car became involved. OnPitRoad.com will update the situation should new information become available later in the day.