Despite starting from sixth on the GT Le Mans grid at Circuit of The Americas following a fire during practice earlier in the Advance Auto Parts SportsCar Showdown weekend, Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia reached the lead and took the victory in Corvette Racing’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R.
The race went green at 1:35 p.m. CDT but was quickly slowed following a multi-car incident for GTLM competitors in Turn 1. The No. 912 Porsche 911 RSR, both Ford GTs, the No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE and the No. 4 Corvette were all involved and had to visit the pits for repairs.
The race went back to green with nine minutes elapsed. With four of the nine GTLM competitors knocked out of contention, the class lead was maintained by John Edwards in the pole-sitting No. 24 BMW M6 GTLM.
Following pit stops and a second caution for the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracan GT3 off track, Patrick Pilet assumed the class lead in the No. 911 Porsche with two hours still remaining.
Under the yellow with the first full hour of the race in the books, Antonio Garcia took the lead in the No. 3 Corvette after Jan Magnussen started the race in the car. Garcia remained at the front during a stretch of green-flag racing and through further pit stops, leading the pair of BMW Team RLL entries comfortably as the final 40 minutes arrived.
A late-race caution for a Prototype car that had gone up in flames set up a five-minute sprint to the checkered flag. With his gap erased, Garcia was tasked with keeping the Nos. 25 and 24 BMW cars behind.
Alexander Sims in the No. 25 car as well as pole sitter Edwards of the No. 24 machine were kept at bay during the closing laps, with Garcia completing his 71st revolution of the 3.4-mile circuit and taking the checkers with a 2.498-second lead over Sims.
Pilet in the No. 911 Porsche finished fourth for the Porsche GT Team, which saw its second entry, the No. 912, withdraw from the race and finish 38th overall.
The pair of Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared Ford GTs finished fifth and sixth, with Joey Hand leading the duo in the No. 66 entry. Richard Westbrook brought the No. 67 car home sixth in class and 31st overall.
The other Corvette finished down in the 35th overall position ahead of the No. 912 Porsche, with Risi Competizione’s Ferrari rounding out the 39-car field in last.
Keating, Bleekemolen Win in GTD
Continuing its first year of IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competition, the Mercedes-AMG GT3 has once again reached the top step of the GT Daytona podium, with Riley Motorsports taking the class win in Texas.
Starting from the GTD pole in his series debut, Mathieu Jaminet in Alegra Motorsports’ No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R retained the class lead following the hectic start, avoiding the GTLM melee in Turn 1.
With the Alegra Porsche firmly ahead in the all-GT3 class, the French driver’s debut continued impress through the opening hour of racing. Despite giving up the lead during pit stops under caution following an off for the No. 16 Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Jaminet’s teammate Daniel Morad returned to the class lead following a stop and a driver change for the Porsche.
After one hour and 31 minutes, Jeroen Bleekemolen got by Morad to put Riley Motorsports in the lead with its No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT3. With the second round of pit stops underway, Tristan Vautier put the similar Mercedes of SunEnergy1 Racing in the lead before Bleekemolen took back over six minutes later.
The final hour of the event saw no further lead changes in the class, with Bleekemolen ensuring he and co-driver Ben Keating won their second race of the year after coming out on top at March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
Alessandro Balzan finished second for reigning class champions Scuderia Corsa, 2.039 seconds back from the victorious Bleekemolen. Vautier ended up third in the No. 75 SunEnergy1 entry at a further 1.411 seconds back.
Bryan Sellers and Jens Klingmann completed the top five, driving the entries from Paul Miller Racing and Turner Motorsport, respectively.
Mercedes is the only manufacturer to appear twice in the top five of the GTD results, with seven different manufacturers being represented in the top 10.
The GTLM category will be on break until the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on July 2, but the GTD field will race next in four weeks at the Raceway at Belle Isle Park on Saturday, June 3.