BRASELTON – The Road Atlanta course near Braselton hosted the finale of the IMSA Weather Tech Sports Car series Saturday. Under clear skies and moderate temperatures, America’s premier sports car series crowned its class champions at the historic Georgia track.
In the final race as a prototype team, Michael Shank Racing’s Honda-powered Ligier won the 10-hour Petit Le Mans, beating out another Ligier Honda of the of the ESM Tequila Patron team. Shank’s team will turn to running the factory Acura GT team next season.
The overall series champion, however, was the Action Express Corvette Prototype team, driven by Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. The Action Express two-car team has claimed the last 3 prototype championships.
In the top GT class, GTLM, it was the Ferrari of the Risi Competizione team, co-driven by former Formula One driver Giancarlo Fisichella, who took the honors for the race. Though by finishing third, the factory Corvette team took the series championship. (See an exclusive interview with Corvette driver Jan Magnussen HERE) It was a tough battle to win the championship for the team, narrowly beating out the Le Mans-winning factory Ford GT team, run by Chip Ganassi.
In the GT3-based GTD category, Ferrari took the honors as series champions as history was made. Christina Nielsen, one of the team drivers for the Scuderia Corsa team, became the first woman to earn a championship as a driver in a full-season North American racing series.
The race winner was the Gas Monkey Garage-sponsored Dodge Viper team, winning in the historic car’s swan song. Dodge has discontinued construction of the sports car, which saw historic wins at Le Mans and all over the world over a long life cycle.
The checkered flag, under the lights, marked the end of a great weekend of racing at the Georgia track, located north of Atlanta. The weather was much better than the monsoon of last year, crowning champions in several series and classes, including Porsche GT Cup, Mazda Prototype Lites, and the Continental Tire Sports Car Series. As always, a huge crowd was on hand, many camping over the weekend for the race.
The race concludes the season for the year, with many changes on the way for 2017, including the retirement of the Daytona Prototype cars (one of which was the series champion) and the introduction of several new GT cars, including entrees by Acura, Mercedes, and prototype entrees by Cadillac. The series will also see the introduction of full ACO-spec LMP2 and GT3 cars. The 2017 season will kick off at Daytona International Speedway on the high banks and infield road course in January with the running of the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona.