Last-Lap, Last-Corner Win for No. 1 Paul Miller BMW Team
July 16, 2022
By John Oreovicz & Mark Robinson
IMSA Wire Service
LAKEVILLE, Conn. – Matt Campbell was content to bide his time until he found the right moment to move into the lead of the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix at Lime Rock Park.
Campbell, who claimed the Motul Pole Award on Friday, lost the lead during the first round of pit stops of Saturday’s two-hour, 40-minute IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship contest. But once the No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R found its way back to the front of the GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) field, it showed unmatched speed.
Campbell stalked and passed Jack Hawksworth in the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 just past the halfway point, then handed the car over to teammate Mathieu Jaminet, who extended to a 10-second lead before the only full-course caution of the event flew in the closing stages.
Jaminet aced the restart, then cruised to a 1.883-second margin of victory over Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas (No. 23 The Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT3), with Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat finishing third, 4.078 seconds back.
The series-leading fourth race win of the season for Campbell and Jaminet extended their lead in the GTD PRO championship standings to 215 points over Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia, who finished fourth at Lime Rock in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R.
“We stuck to our strategy, and it really paid off well for us,” said Campbell. “There was a lot of fuel saving at the beginning, and a few cars went off strategy and we really had to push to make our strategy come back to us. Being in front in clean air is so critical to tire management, and that was the key to our race and our strategy. I had to be patient in the middle stint and be smart in traffic.”
“The key was Matt’s performance in qualifying and the first two stints, because it was all about managing tires,” Jaminet added. “I think the guys that pitted early in their first stint compromised their race. Amazing job again by the Pfaff crew with fast pit stops and faultless strategy. It’s looking good for the championship.”
The Heart of Racing earned podium finishes in both the GTD PRO and GTD classes for the third race in a row, as GTD drivers Roman De Angelis and Maxime Martin in the No. 23 Aston Martin matched the second-place finish achieved by Gunn and Riberas in GTD PRO.
“To do more than an hour in that last stint, we had to work so hard in the car,” Riberas said. “To be honest, I enjoyed it quite a bit and had a lot of fun, and to come home with a third consecutive podium for both cars is fantastic. I’m really, really happy for the team.”
All five classes of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship will be back in action at the IMSA SportsCar Weekend, August 4-7 at Road America near Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.
Last-Lap, Last-Corner Win for No. 1 Paul Miller BMW Team
There’s a reason why you race all the way to the checkered flag. Bryan Sellers showed why in Saturday’s GT Daytona (GTD) portion of the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix.
Sellers evaded the stricken race leader in Lime Rock’s fast, downhill final corner on the last lap, then held off a trio of charging competitors behind to claim the GTD win in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3. It may have been the 14th win of Sellers’ IMSA career, but the 39-year-old hadn’t witnessed anything like this one.
“Last lap? Yes. Last corner? No,” Sellers said in victory lane, still shaking his head in disbelief. “Today, we did get fortunate.”
Sellers and co-driver Madison Snow earned their second WeatherTech Championship win of 2022, but they weren’t even assured a podium finish with less than a half hour left in the race. Mired in fourth place on a track where passing is difficult, the race ran without caution until Ryan Eversley slid the No. 51 Rick Ware Racing Acura NSX GT3 into the Turn 7 tires to bring out a full-course yellow with 21 minutes to go.
To that point, the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 had dominated. But on the restart with nine minutes left, Philip Ellis maneuvered the No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 inside Aaron Telitz in the No. 12 Lexus entering Turn 1. The two cars made side-to-side contact several times through Turns 2 and 3 before Ellis pushed the No. 57 Mercedes into the lead. The No. 12 sustained hood and front-end damage that eliminated it from contention.
Sellers, meanwhile, dispatched of Maxime Martin in the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3 for third place and inherited second when the No. 12 Lexus had its incident. Still, victory seemed unlikely as Ellis built a comfortable gap in the No. 57 he shared with Russell Ward.
That is, until Ward slowed dramatically coming down the hill toward Turn 7, the victim of a fuel pump failure. All he could do was coast to the finish line. As Sellers rapidly approached entering the seventh and final turn, he had a split-second decision to make.
“Coming to the checkered (flag), you could see the (No.) 57, who had a huge gap, coming back to us fast,” Sellers said. “Then on the downhill, you realize he’s not going anymore. Then it’s, ‘I’ve got this opportunity to win. Do I go right, do I go left?’ I see all the rubber (marbles to the) left and I don’t really want to go there but you don’t have a choice, so I went left, go out over the curb and luckily hang on.
“You take ‘em when you can get ‘em, and you’re super happy about ‘em when you can get ‘em.”
Martin, in the No. 27 Aston Martin, followed Sellers to the outside of the crippled Mercedes, as did Mike Skeen in the No. 32 Team Korthoff Motorsports Mercedes. Jeff Westphal, running fourth in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3, opted to dart inside Ellis and overtook Skeen for third place.
The margins were miniscule. Sellers won by 0.631 seconds over Martin, who was 0.059 seconds ahead of Westphal, who finished 0.109 seconds up on Skeen. A despondent Ellis rolled across the line eight seconds later in fifth place.
By finishing fourth, the No. 32 Team Korthoff Mercedes and co-driver Stevan McAleer retained the GTD season points lead, expanding it to 40 markers over Jan Heylen, Ryan Hardwick and the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R.
With the win, Sellers, Snow and the No. 1 BMW broadened their lead in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup to 212 points over Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Aston Martin.
Categories: IMSA WeatherTech Championship, Race Recap
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