The 2015 IMSA WeatherTech season opened at Daytona International Speedway in January with the traditional Rolex-24. It was followed by the historic 12-Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock, Road America, VIRginia International Raceway, Circuit of the Americas and a 10-hour finale at Road Atlanta.

There were four classes:

  • Prototype (P) – These are purpose built race cars and the quickest in the series. Included in this group are Daytona Prototypes from the former Grand-Am series and P2 cars. Manufacturers such as Ford, Chevrolet, Honda and Mazda are supplying engines that produce 550-600 horsepower. Chassis’ competing in the category include the Corvette DP, DeltaWing DWC 13, Mazda/Lola, Riley DP, Ligier JS P2 and Ford DP.
  • Prototype Challenge (PC) – This is a spec class using the ORECA FLM09 chassis. The cars are powered by Chevrolet LS3 engine which produces approximately 485-horsepower.
  • GT Le Mans (GTLM) – Cars in this class are highly modified production vehicles from manufacturers such as Ferrari, Porsche, Chevrolet and BMW. As a result, a wide range of engine configurations and displacements are employed. The series technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure that teams are competing on a ‘level playing field’. Most of the teams competing in this group are receiving factory support.
  • GT Daytona (GTD) – This is also a production based class but does not allow the same level of technological improvements that can be made to GTLM cars. Vehicles in the category include Audi R8 LMS GT3, Porsche 911 GT3-R, Ferrari 488 GT3 and Dodge Viper GT3-R. Similar to GTLM, the technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure parity.

In 2014, the American Le Mans and Rolex Sportscar series merged to form the new Tudor United SportsCar Championship. The main concern among teams was whether their current equipment would be competitive in the new series. While progress had been made in the first year to balance the performance of different GT marques, the series was challenged by their premier class – the Prototypes. Those ‘in the know’ recognized that it would be difficult to achieve parity between the Daytona and Le Mans Prototypes as they were designed and constructed using different rules. But, the series technical officials listened to the teams and continued to make progress on this issue in 2015.

Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca hosted round four of IMSA’s WeatherTech series. The Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix powered by Mazda had a total of thirty-five entries. Teams would compete for 2-hours, 40-minutes around the eleven-turn 2.238-mile road course.

Sixteen Prototypes (9-Prototype and 7-Prototype Challenge cars) dive into Laguna Seca’s turn-two. Leading the way is the pole-sitter Jordan Taylor in the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Challenging Taylor for first place are the No. 01 Riley DP of Scott Pruett and Michael Valiante in the Corvette DP. Valiante would pass Taylor and lead the first lap.
The No. 90 Racing Corvette DP was shared by Michael Valiante and Richard Westbrook. Valiante handled the qualifying duties and the car started from third on the grid. Valiante charged at the drop of the green flag and before, the end of the first lap, he was in the lead. The final stint was driven by Westbrook. Westbrook led the last twenty-nine laps giving the team their first victory since the 2014 Watkins Glen event.
Chris Cumming put the No. 11 RSR Racing ORECA FLM09 on the Prototype Challenge pole. Cummings shared the car with former CART series driver Bruno Junqueira. The pair had to overcome a drive-through penalty, assessed when a crew member came over the pit wall too soon. Despite this setback, the duo led 80 of 112-laps to claim their first win of the 2015 season.
After disappointing results in the first two races of the season, the Taylor brothers began to build some momentum. They entered the Mazda Raceway event with two second-place finishes and a victory at Long Beach. Jordan Taylor put the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP on the overall pole. Taylor and his brother Ricky led the most laps - a total of fifty-seven but fell short of first place by 1.351-seconds.
Oswaldo Negri Jr. dominated all three practices and set his best time – 1:18.516 - in the final session. Unfortunately, for Negri and his teammate John Pew, their competition found some extra speed in qualifying and they started fourth in the Michael Shank Racing Honda HPD Ligier JS P2. The pair would finish on the lead lap in third place despite contact with the Action Express Coyote.
It was a difficult weekend for the Corvette Racing team. The No. 3 Chevrolet Corvette C7.R driven by Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia was scheduled to start seventh in GTLM but a rule concerning engine changes before the race meant they had to start at the back of the grid. Garcia was making excellent progress during the contest but contact with the No. 90 Corvette DP damaged the right front. The pair would finish seventh in GTLM.
GTLM pole-sitter, Dirk Werner in the black BMW Z4 GTE follows his teammate John Edwards into corner two. Attempting to take advantage of Werner’s poor start is the Porsche 911 RSR driven Patrick Pilet. Leading the GTD contingent is the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT of Marc Miller and Jeff Mosing. They are followed by their Riley teammates Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen.
One of the drivers of the BMW Team RLL has a moment at the top of ‘The Corkscrew’. The No. 25 was shared by Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. Auberlen and Werner were the GTLM category winners at the previous round in Long Beach. Werner put the BMW Z4 GTE on the class pole – at first for him. He led the first thirteen laps before being passed by his teammate. The pair would finish second in GTLM.
The No. 24 BMW Team RLL BMW Z4 GTE was driven by John Edwards and Lucas Luhr. Starting second in GTLM, Luhr passed his teammate Werner for the lead on lap-13 and the duo controlled the race to its conclusion. Edwards was behind the wheel at the checkered flag and finished 22.572-seconds ahead of teammate, Bill Auberlen.
Finishing second in the Prototype Challenge category was the CORE Autosport ORECA FLM09 entry driven by Colin Braun and team principal Jon Bennett. The defending class champions led thirteen laps but more important held the class points lead. Their closest rivals in the title chase Mike Guasch and Tom Kimber-Smith failed to finish when they suffered a fuel pressure issue.
Patrick Lindsey earned his first GTD pole-position in a convincing manner. Lindsey was almost one-second (0.981-seconds) quicker than the next competitor in his class. He started the race and battled with Dion von Moltke until handing over the driving duties to Spencer Pumpelly. Pumpelly was the first to checkered flag helping Lindsey earn his first GTD win.
The No. 38 ORECA FLM09 was entered by Performance Tech Motorsports and driven by James French and Mike Hedlund. They started from the fifteenth grid position which placed them third in the Prototype Challenge category. The pair drove a steady race and finished in third two-laps behind the class winner.
Christopher Haase and Dion von Moltke shared the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS. Von Moltke started second in the GTD category but early in the race, he was passed by the two Riley Vipers and the TRG-AMR Aston Martin. He and teammate Haase worked their way back to the front of GTD. Haase put on a charge at the end of the race but made contact with the class leading Prototype. He finished second – 3.677-seconds behind the winner.
Sebring winners, Ian James and Mario Farnbacher were forced to start from the back of the grid – necessitated by a tire change before the race. Despite their lowly starting position, the pair moved through the field and were third in GTD driving the Team Seattle/Alex Job Racing Porsche 911 GT America.
Making their debut in the series were Marc Miller and Jeff Mosing driving the Riley Motorsports Dodge Viper SRT. Miller qualified the Viper second in GTD and led the opening laps until being passed by pole-sitter Patrick Lindsey. During the race, they fell a lap behind the category leader – Lindsey and Pumpelly – and finished twenty-ninth overall and eighth in their class.
The No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR was entered by Porsche North America. The car was driven by Michael Christensen and Patrick Pilet. Pilet passed the BMW of Dirk Werner for second in class but it was short lived. Like the other GTLM competitors, the Porsche was no match for the RLL-prepared Z4s. Christensen and Pilet were the best of the rest finishing third in class and twelfth overall.
Sharing the Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates Riley DP was Scott Pruett and Joey Hand. The car was powered by a Ford EcoBoost. The EcoBoost was introduced by Ford in 2009 and designed to produce more horsepower with less displacement. The team began using this engine in 2014 and had mixed results. At Mazda Raceway, the car started second but encountered gearbox problems and finished seventh in class.

1PRichard Westbrook / Michael ValianteCorvette DP112-
2PRicky Taylor / Jordan TaylorCorvette DP112-
3PJohn Pew / Oswaldo Negri Jr.Honda HPD Ligier JS P2112-
4PJoao Barbosa / Christian FittipaldiCorvette DP112-
5PEric Curran / Dane CameronCorvette DP112-
6PCBruno Junqueira / Chris CummingORECA FLM09110-
7PTristan Nunez / Jonathan BomaritoMazda Prototype110-
8PCJon Bennett / Colin BraunORECA FLM09110-
9GTLMJohn Edwards / Lucas LuhrBMW Z4 GTE108-
10PCJames French / Mike HedlundORECA FLM09108-
11GTLMBill Auberlen / Dirk WernerBMW Z4 GTE108-
12GTLMPatrick Pilet / Michael ChristensenPorsche 911 RSR108-
13GTLMPierre Kaffer / Giancarlo FisichellaFerrari F458 Italia108-
14GTLMJörg Bergmeister / Michael ChristensenPorsche 911 RSR108-
15GTLMOliver Gavin / Tommy MilnerChevrolet Corvette C7.R108-
16PCMikhail Goikhberg / Zach VeachORECA FLM09108-
17GTLMJan Magnussen / Antonio GarciaChevrolet Corvette C7.R108-
18GTLMBryan Sellers / Wolf HenzlerPorsche 911 RSR108-
19PCTodd Slusher / John FalbORECA FLM09106-
20PCRenger van der Zande / Mirco SchultisORECA FLM09104-
21GTDPatrick Lindsey / Spencer PumpellyPorsche 911 GT America103-
22GTDChristopher Haase / Dion von MoltkeAudi R8 LMS103-
23PJoey Hand / Scott PruettFord EcoBoost Riley DP103-
24GTDIan James / Mario FarnbacherPorsche 911 GT America103-
25GTDBill Sweedler / Townsend BellFerrari 458 Italia103-
26GTDChristina Nielsen / James DavisonAston Martin V12 Vantage102-
27GTDJohn Potter / Andy LallyPorsche 911 GT America102-
28GTDCooper MacNeil / Leh KeenPorsche 911 GT America102-
29GTDMarc Miller / Jeff MosingDodge Viper SRT102-
30GTDPatrick Byrne / Guy CosmoAudi R8 LMS100-
31GTDMichael Marsal / Markus PalttalaBMW Z498Not Running
32GTDBen Keating / Jeroen BleekemolenDodge Viper SRT97-
33PCMike Guasch / Tom Kimber-SmithORECA FLM0996Not Running
34PMemo Rojas / Katherine LeggeDeltaWing DWC1338Not Running
35PTom Long / Joel MillerMazda Prototype18Not Running

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