The Heart of Racing’s Ross Gunn and Alex Riberas dominated on Saturday (July 22) at Lime Rock Park, leading 138 of 168 laps to win the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix. It is Gunn and Riberas’ first victory of the season.
Gunn and Riberas’ margin of victory was .336 seconds over Vasser Sullivan’s Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth. Pfaff Motorsports’ Klaus Bachler and Patrick Pilet were third, followed by Corvette Racing’s Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor.
Gunn started from the overall pole and was able to hold onto the advantage early over Hawksworth. The advantage held steady at two seconds.
All weekend long, tire wear had been the big story. That resulted in diverging pit strategies. WeatherTech Racing’s Jules Gounon was the first driver to pit roughly 26 minutes into the race for tires. Hawksworth and Gunn followed. Gunn explained that his early stop was a combination of wanting to get off of his qualifying tires and trying to protect against an overcut.
Pfaff Motorsports went in the other direction. Pilet had started fifth in class and didn’t have much to lose. When Gunn and Garcia pitted, Pilet took the overall lead in his Porsche.
Pilet’s strategy was to run for a complete fuel run (or something approaching that) before making his first stop. However, Kelly-Moss Road & Race’s Alan Metni ran into the back of Andretti Autosport’s Jarett Andretti 38 minutes into the race. The result was Andretti ending up in the barriers in Big Bend, Metni in the grass and the yellow coming out.
Andretti was out on the spot as his Aston Martin had to be towed in. Metni was able to drive around and catch the rear of the field before pitting. However, his Porsche was significantly damaged, having to drive a couple of laps with his hood blocking his windshield before he could pit for repairs. He was eventually given a stop-and-go penalty for causing the crash. The car was also retired from the race.
Pilet was forced to pit here, giving the lead back to Gunn, who stayed out. Gunn was able to open up a couple of seconds over Hawksworth while Garcia and Pilet gave chase.
After the halfway point, Gunn made his second stop and handed over to Riberas. That shuffled up the field, but Riberas was eventually able to get back to the lead.
The field closed back up with a little under an hour to go when Inception Racing’s Brendan Iribe lost control exiting the Diving Turn and spun into the tire barrier to bring out the second yellow. Iribe was uninjured but his McLaren was done for the day.
Much like Gunn earlier in the race, Riberas was able to open up a gap on Barnicoat on the restart. However, Barnicoat, along with Bachler and Taylor were able to run Riberas down. The result was a four-way battle for the win in the closing laps that Riberas and The Heart of Racing squad won.
Unlike the GTD Pro class, the GTD class is bound by the 40-minute minimum drive time rule. As a result, short pitting early on was not a viable option.
When the caution flew for the Andretti-Metni crash, a split strategy developed. Some teams, including leader Skeen, chose to pit immediately. Others chose to wait a lap to get over the 40-minute mark.
In the middle of the race, a great amount of movement occurred, partially due to pit strategy, and partially due to strong form from some emerging contenders. VOLT Racing’s Porsche started 14th in class and struggled early. Once Trent Hindman got in the car, the team quickly moved up the order. Hindman told Frontstretch prior to the race that the Porsche had a tire advantage over the other manufacturers, and that he was going to use it to his benefit.
While Metni crashed Kelly-Moss’ No. 91 Porsche out, Julien Andlauer drove the sister-No. 92 up to second. Both drivers had to deal with The Heart of Racing’s Marco Sorensen, who took the lead when Turner Motorsport’s Bill Auberlen pitted from the front.
Sorensen didn’t have as good a car as his GTD Pro teammates, but he was good enough to pull out a small gap over Andlauer. He was able to hold that gap to the finish to give himself and teammate Roman DeAngelis their second win of the year.
Sorensen and DeAngelis’ margin of victory was .555 seconds over Andlauer and Alec Udell. Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson were third, followed by Turner Motorsport’s Robby Foley and Patrick Gallagher. US RaceTronics’ Misha Goikhberg and Loris Spinelli were fifth.
Teams will take a week off before traveling to Road America in Wisconsin. There, they’ll be joined by the three prototype classes for the Road Race Showcase. That race is scheduled for 11 a.m. ET on Aug. 6. The race will air live on USA Network.
About the author
Phil Allaway has three primary roles at Frontstretch. He's the manager of the site's FREE e-mail newsletter that publishes Monday-Friday and occasionally on weekends. He keeps TV broadcasters honest with weekly editions of Couch Potato Tuesday and serves as the site's Sports Car racing editor.
Outside of Frontstretch, Phil is the press officer for Lebanon Valley Speedway in West Lebanon, N.Y. He covers all the action on the high-banked dirt track from regular DIRTcar Modified racing to occasional visits from touring series such as the Super DIRTcar Series.
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