Postcard from Monterey (Pt. 2): Prototypes – Miracle at Mazda Raceway


They said it couldn’t be done. Three races into the inaugural TUDOR United SportsCar Championship season, and no LMP2 prototype had seen the top step of the podium.

Leave it to politics, some said: IMSA’s balance of performance was hopelessly weighted in favor of the heavier – but more powerful – Daytona Prototypes. This was the natural outcome of the Grand-Am Series’ acquisition of the ALMS in 2012, said the critics.  On social media, many thought the ultimate goal was to eliminate LMP2’s from the series.

Johannes van Overbeek and ESM Patron Racing had other ideas.  Taking advantage of Mazda Raceway’s slow corners, and benefitting from a rare mistake by rival Jordan Taylor, van Overbeek brought his Honda ARX-03b home in first, ahead of Taylor and veteran Scott Pruett, racing a Riley DP with Ford Ecoboost power for Chip Ganassi Racing.

The race began with a scintillating dice between Jordan Taylor, driving a Corvette DP for Wayne Taylor Racing, and Gustavo Yacaman in an Oak Racing Nissan-Morgan LMP2.  The close racing tended to answer critics who had questioned whether the two divergent prototpes could race competitively.  After Monterey, the answer was an emphatic “yes”.

Yacaman’s efforts were blighted by an incident between his teammate, Alex Brundle, and an Action Express DP driven by Christian Fittipaldi.  But by that point, van Overbeek was ready to start reeling in Taylor.  An uncharacteristic bobble by Taylor coming out of Turn 3 was all the room that van Overbeek needed to take the lead, setting up a win that no one expected, and a victory that settled some old scores.


Spirit of Daytona took an early lead from polesitter ESM, resulting in a great battle between Michael Valiante and OAK Racing’s Gustavo Yacaman.


Yacaman stayed hard on Valiante’s bumper for his stint, but Alex Brundle tangled with the Action Express prototype of Christian Fittipaldi at the Corkscrew, leaving the Nissan-Morgan behind (and penalized).  At least its performance reassured those who questioned the future of the LMP2 category.


Brundle damages his own car and, ultimately, the 07 Mazda, which retired.


This is not the correct way to exit the Corkscrew.


Starworks Motorsport won the PC class in a gorgeous Martini livery, just ahead of 8Star.


It wasn’t a great day for Ford, despite Ganassi’s third place.


Mazda finished P7 with its Skyactiv Diesel LMP2.  A modest result but huge progress for Speedsource, which has struggled with reliability.  Mazda thinks that it has finally gotten a handle on the vibration issues that previously plagued the four-liter diesel. In its home race, Mazda would have brought both cars home but for the Brundle incident.


Buttoned up at Action Express Racing, for Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa.  Despite a chaotic race, the team came away with fourth place and the points lead.


Third place for Ganassi’s Pruett and Rojas.

Ganassi Ford

Johannes van Overbeek earned pole, and then turned the wheel over to owner/driver Ed Brown.  Under intense pressure from the DP field, Brown managed to keep the car in contention long enough for “JvO” to return and score the win.






Postcard from Monterey: TUDOR Championship at Mazda Raceway (Pt. 1 – GT)


The Monterey debut of the TUDOR United SportsCar Championship lived up to the tradition of close GT racing and Corvette dominance at Mazda Raceway. For Corvette, the GTLM win was its second of the season and its third victory in as many years at Laguna Seca.

Corvette’s driver pairing of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen won at Monterey for the second consecutive year, just weeks after delivering Corvette its first TUDOR win in Long Beach. In GTD – which raced separately due to pit lane space constraints – Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala of Turner Motorsport took top honors in their BMW Z4GTE.

The race-long battle in GTLM between BMW and Porsche was a textbook example of hard racing, but it ended with a penalty against Nick Tandy and Porsche.  IMSA has seen three races end with penalties, all of which have caused controversy.  This remains an area of concern for the series, although both Tandy and Edwards are smart drivers who should be allowed to race each other. But with caution-free racing, pristine weather, and a sprint-to-the finish race format, both GT classes delivered the goods at Mazda Raceway.

And for Magnussen and Garcia, who seem to have claimed ownership of the Monterey Peninsula, the California sun shone a little more brightly.



Magnussen (above) started in the lead Corvette, but Garcia set a lap record in qualifying.


Krohn Racing returned from the World Endurance Championship to race as the lone privateer in GTLM.  The F458 looks fantastic in Krohn’s traditional green livery.


Bill Auberlen and Andy Priaulx scored a podium for BMW, after tussling in the late laps with a factory Porsche driven by Nick Tandy. A post-race penalty against Porsche demoted Tandy’s car to ninth and elevated Giancarlo Fisichella’s Risi Competitzione Ferrari to third place.  The question that wasn’t answered is how much of BMW’s pace comes down to pure performance, and how much is down to performance breaks from IMSA.



Dodge re-branded its SRT division just as the Viper arrived in Monterey, so this car may look slightly different at the next race.  The TUDOR-spec version features an 8.0 litre V-10 under the hood, putting out somewhere near 490 hp. Mated to a set of paddle shifters, the Viper can reach speeds of up to 185 mph. With its booming exhaust and aggressive styling, the Viper has always been a crowd favorite.


The 458 Italia is a stunner.  The GTD version, shown below, was prepared by Scuderia Corsa.  The 64 car (below) finished 10th at Mazda Raceway, with its sister car finishing in seventh.


The Porsche factory effort was cursed at Mazda Raceway; the lead 911 of Nick Tandy was penalized for contact with the BMW of John Edwards, and the 912 survived a few incidents to finish ninth (eighth after Tandy’s penalty).


Porsche misfortune turned into a bonus for Risi Ferrari, which finished third after the penalty.


Andy Lally’s Magnus Racing Porsche looked slightly worse for wear after a podium in Race One.


Crowds continue to pack the grid walk.