The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship’s fifth race of the year is in the books and Wayne Taylor Racing’s reign has been extended to the series’ annual visit to the Motor City.
A complicated qualifying session on Friday resulted in the team’s No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R starting from behind the remainder of the 10-car Prototype field as well as two of the three Prototype Challenge cars.
A blisteringly fast pace for race starter Ricky Taylor and, later, his brother Jordan, ensured the car reached the front and remain undefeated as the WeatherTech Championship and its new-for-2017 Prototype class leave the Raceway at Belle Isle Park.
The race started cleanly among the Prototype ranks, though passing was not absent within the first few corners.
A bold move by Misha Goikhberg through Turns 1 and 2 landed JDC-Miller Motorsports’ No. 85 ORECA 07 in second behind the pole-sitting No. 5 Action Express Cadillac, with the No. 31 entry from the Action Express team being relegated to third.
After five laps, Christian Fittipaldi had stretched his lead in the No. 5 car to 2.741 seconds over Goikhberg. More interestingly, Ricky Taylor had climbed from 12th to seventh after just 15 minutes.
Two separate incidents involving GT Daytona cars at opposite ends of the circuit took out a Prototype contender and initiated the race’s first full-course yellow after 26 minutes of racing.
Kenny Habul in SunEnergy1 Racing’s Mercedes-AMG GT3 suffered a mechanical failure and struck Renger van der Zande in Visit Florida Racing’s No. 90 Gibson-powered Riley Mk. 30. Both cars were sent into the tire barrier and the day was done for the LMP2 car.
Pit stops during the yellow period saw Dane Cameron overtake teammate Fittipaldi for the lead in the No. 31 Action Express car. When the green flag returned, Joel Miller reached second in the No. 70 Mazda RT24-P and began chasing Cameron for the lead.
— Continental Tire (@continentaltire) June 3, 2017
With 47 minutes to go, Miller owned the race’s fastest lap and was within 4.3 seconds of Cameron.
As the second half of the race continued, fuel-only stops joined pure speed in being the main deciding factors at the top of the running order.
Cameron, still leading, made his final pit stop a notable 19 minutes after the No. 10 Cadillac came in for its splash of fuel at the hands of Jordan Taylor. Taylor took the lead from the No. 31 Cadillac as Cameron steered it out of the pits.
Taylor quickly built up a gap of nearly six seconds and never looked back, ultimately crossing the finish line with a gap of 4.9 seconds.
The Wayne Taylor-led team has now won in each of the last three years at the two temporary street circuits on the WeatherTech Championship schedule after coming out on top at Long Beach in April.
Cameron held on to second behind the Taylor duo, finishing the race just shy of five seconds behind the victorious No. 10 Cadillac. Miller brought the No. 70 Mazda home in third, 34.502 seconds after Taylor secured the win.
— Mazda Motorsports (@MazdaRacing) June 3, 2017
Completing the race in the No. 5 Cadillac, Joao Barbosa ensured all three DPi cars from the General Motors brand finished in the top four at the all-important Detroit round.
Tristan Nunez escaped disaster when he avoided the spun JDC-Miller ORECA at the entrance to Turn 2 within the closing minutes of the race, ultimately finishing fifth. Stephen Simpson brought the No. 85 ORECA 07 home in sixth.
Tequila Patron ESM’s pair of Nissan Onroak DPi machines finished seventh and eighth in the Prototype division, though 16 positions split the two cars in the overall results. Johannes van Overbeek finished the race in seventh in the team’s No. 22 car while Ryan Dalziel and the No. 2 car is scored in 23rd overall at nine laps down.
French, O’Ward Undefeated, Too
With their only competition being a pair of off-the-pace BAR1 Motorsports entries, Performance Tech Motorsports drivers James French and Pato O’Ward extended their own streak of only wins in 2017 to Detroit.
The trio of PC cars finished eighth, ninth and 10th overall behind the top seven Prototype finishers. O’Ward took the checkers with a gap of more than a lap over Bruno Junqueira in BAR1’s No. 26 car.
Ryan Lewis brought the other BAR1 entry home another lap back, with that car, the No. 20, completing only 62 laps to Performance Tech’s 64.
The WeatherTech Championship will return to action on June 29 to July 2 for the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen, the third round of the Tequila Patron North American Endurance Championship.