The 2017 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship opened at Daytona International Speedway in January with the traditional Rolex-24. It was followed by the historic 12-Hours of Sebring, Long Beach, Circuit of the Americas, Detroit, Watkins Glen, Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Lime Rock, Road America, Virginia International Raceway, Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and a 10-hour finale called Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.

As in 2016, there were four classes:

  • Prototype (P) – These are purpose built race cars and the quickest in the series. Significant changes were implemented to this category in 2017. It included cars constructed to two different set of rules – Daytona Prototype International (DPi) and Le Mans Prototype 2 (P2). The DPi category includes the Cadillac DPi-V.R, Nissan DPi and Mazda RT24-P. This class allows manufacturers to use their engines. All the P2 cars are powered by a 3.8-liter Gibson V8 engine. Competitors are using chassis’ from ORECA, Ligier and Riley Technologies.
  • Prototype Challenge (PC) – This is a spec class which was introduced in 2010 by the American Le Mans series. This category uses the ORECA FLM09 chassis. The cars are powered by Chevrolet LS3 engine which produces approximately 485-horsepower. 2017 is the last year that Prototype Challenge will be eligible to compete in the WeatherTech series.
  • Grand Touring 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 racing in this group are receiving factory support.
  • Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) – This is also a production based class but does not allow the same level of technological improvements that can be made to Grand Touring Le Mans cars. Vehicles in the category include Audi R8 LMS GT3, Porsche 911 GT3 R, Ferrari 488 GT3, BMW M6 GT3, Acura NSX GT3, Lamborghini Huracan GT3, Mercedes AMG GT3, Lexus RCF GT3 and Aston Martin Vantage. Similar to Grand Touring Le Mans, the technical staff uses a number of methods to ensure parity.

Canadian Tire Motorsport Park hosted the seventh round of IMSA’s WeatherTech Sportscar Challenge series. Thirty-six entries would compete in the 2-hour and 40-minute race around the 2.459-mile ten-turn road course.

Fastest qualifier, Ricky Taylor in the No. 10 Konica Minolta Cadillac DPi-V.R leads the field into Canadian Tire Motorsport Park’s first turn. Dropping in behind Taylor is the JDC-Miller Motorsports ORECA LMP2 driven by, Stephen Simpson. Following the leaders are the two ESM Nissans driven by Scott Sharp and Johannes van Overbeek.
In qualifying, the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac DPi was the second slowest Prototype entry and was gridded eighth overall. But that appeared to be of little consequence to drivers, Eric Curran and Dane Cameron as by lap-113 of 122 they were in the lead. Despite pressure from second place Stephen Simpson, Cameron was able to hold him off for the team’s first victory of the season.
Ricky Taylor put the No. 10 Cadillac DPi-V.R on the pole for the third time this season. Taylor shared the car with his brother, Jordan who was leading the race when it began raining. The other teams pitted to change tires but Taylor’s crew decided to stay on slicks. This move gave him a 25-second lead with less than 30-minutes in the race. Unfortunately, a collision with one of the GTLM Corvettes took the Cadillac out of contention.
For the fifth time in six races, James French claimed the Prototype Challenge (PC) pole. The Performance Tech Motorsports prepared ORECA FLM09 was 1.723-seconds quicker than the second place starter in class. During the race, French’s teammate, Pato O’Ward was in the lead when he had to pit for damaged bodywork. The drivers made up the two laps they lost during the stop and captured their sixth PC victory in six races.
The overall and Prototype class podium at the 2017 Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix. To the left are the runner-up’s from JDC-Miller Motorsports – Stephen Simpson and Misha Goikhberg. And, on the right of the rostrum are Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp who shared the ESM Nissan DPi. In the center, victorious for the second consecutive year at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park are Dane Cameron and Eric Curran. This was Cadillac’s seventh win in seven starts.
In qualifying, Dirk Werner claimed the first GTLM pole for Porsche’s new mid-engined 911 RSR. At the outset, Werner was passed by the second fastest qualifier, Bill Auberlen. He and his co-driver Patrick Pilet ran second for much of the event and were able to keep the pressure on the leading BMW. With less than ten-minutes remaining in the contest, the car retired with an engine issue. They were classified seventh in GTLM.
Just a mere 0.128-seconds slower than the pole winning Cadillac was Mikhail Goikhberg driving the JDC-Miller Motorsports Oreca 07. Goikherg and his co-driver, Stephen Simpson would start on the outside of the front row. The pair dueled with the Taylor brothers in the Cadillac and led a total of thirty-nine-laps. Despite a late race charge by Simpson, the pair finished in the runner-up position for the second consecutive event.
The second and fourth fastest GTLM qualifiers from BMW Team RLL move in front of the pole winning Porsche. Leading the way is the No. 25 BMW M6 driven by sports car veteran, Bill Auberlen. Trailing Auberlen is his teammate, Martin Tomczyk in the second BMW Team RLL entry. Driving the opening stint for the Porsche team were Dirk Werner and Laurens Vanthoor.
Sage Karam, driving the 3GT Racing Lexus RCF GT3 was the quickest GTD competitor on Friday. Karam backed up this performance by qualifying on the pole for Sunday’s event – a first for the new Lexus. He led the class for the first thirty-five laps. Unfortunately, Karam and his teammate, Scott Pruett received penalties for two pit lane violations and finished fifth (wheel rotation while up on jacks and for leaving equipment attached to the car).
The Stevenson Motorsports Audi R8 LMS driven by Andrew Davis was 0.162-seconds slower than the pole-winning Lexus and would start second. Davis and his co-driver Lawson Aschenbach took the GTD lead after the first full course caution period. They were in first place for the final thirty-one-laps and won by a margin of 3.098-seconds. This was the team’s first victory of the season.
In the center, for the second consecutive race are the GTLM class winners of the 2017 Mobil 1 Sportscar Grand Prix – Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims. To their left, are the second-place finishers and their teammates from BMW Team RLL – Martin Tomczyk and John Edwards. Taking the final position on the podium are Chip Ganassi Racing drivers, Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook.
Qualifying duties for the No. 25 BMW Team RLL M6 GTLM were performed by Bill Auberlen. Auberlen was second quickest - just 0.018-seconds behind the pole winning Porsche. He jumped into the lead at the start of the race. Some problems during the pit-stop caused Auberlen’s co-driver, Alexander Sims to return to the track in third place. Sims moved to the front before the final caution and the pair took their second consecutive victory.
The Taylor Racing Cadillac was the quickest car in the opening practice but by the end of the day, Ryan Dalziel, driving the ESM Nissan DPi topped the time sheets. Dalziel’s teammate, Scott Sharp qualified the car third. The pair ran third for much of the race and despite a spin by Dalziel, they earned the final spot on the overall and class podium.
Andy Lally and his teammate, Katherine Legge were on a roll. The pair scored class victories in the last two rounds - Watkins Glen and Belle Isle. At Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, they were gridded sixth in class. During the contest, the pair moved up the race order and were second in the GTD class at the conclusion of the event. They missed scoring their third consecutive victory but closed the points gap on Nielsen and Balzan.
Martin Tomczyk qualified the second BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM entry fourth. Early in the race, Tomczyk moved to second in class and chased his teammates until the first pit-stop. John Edwards took over from him and was third in GTLM as the event came to a conclusion. A mechanical failure for the second place Porsche elevated the pair to a runner-up finish which gave BMW a one-two result.
The Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 was qualified by Christina Nielsen. Nielsen and her co-driver, Alessandro Balzan would start fifth in GTD. With thirty-three-laps remaining in the event the Ferrari moved into third place. At the checkered flag, the GTD point’s co-leaders and defending class champions captured the final position on the class podium.
The No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT shared by Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe started fifth in GTLM. During the race, the pair trailed their teammates, Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand. At the end of the first full course caution period, they moved to fourth in class. The pair had settled into this position when the second place Porsche retired. Briscoe and Westbrook inherited the final spot on the podium.
The GTD podium. On the left are second place finishers Andy Lally and Katherine Legge and to the right are reigning class champions, Christina Nielsen and Alessandro Balzan. In the center, earning their first class win of the season for Stevenson Motorsports are Andrew Davis and Lawson Aschenbach. Of note, this was the third consecutive race that two women – Nielsen and Legge – finished on the rostrum.

1PD. Cameron / E. CurranCadillac DPi-V.R122-
2PS. Simpson / M. GoikhbergORECA 07122-
3PS. Sharp / R. DalzielNissan DPi122-
4PT. Nunez / J. BomaritoMazda RT24-P122-
5PT. Long / J. MillerMazda RT24-P122-
6PJ. Barbosa / C. FittipaldiCadillac DPi-V.R122-
7PR. Taylor / J. TaylorCadillac DPi-V.R120-
8PCJ. French / P. O'WardORECA FLM09117-
9GTLMB. Auberlen / A. SimsBMW M6 GTLM117-
10GTLMJ. Edwards / M. TomczykBMW M6 GTLM117-
11GTLMR. Briscoe / R. WestbrookFord GT117-
12GTLMA. Garcia / J. MagnussenChevrolet Corvette C7.R117-
13GTLMD. Mueller / J. HandFord GT117-
14GTLML. Vanthoor / G. BruniPorsche 911 RSR117-
15PN. Boulle / D. OstellaLigier JS P217116Accident
16PCD. Yount / R. LewisORECA FLM09116-
17GTDL. Aschenbach / A. DavisAudi R8 LMS GT3114-
18GTDA. Lally / K. LeggeAcura NSX GT3114-
19GTDC. Nielsen / A. BalzanFerrari 488 GT3114-
20GTDB. Curtis / J. KlingmannBMW M6 GT3114-
21GTDS. Pruett / S. KaramLexus RCF GT3114-
22GTDC. Lewis / J. MulLamborghini Huracan GT3114-
23GTDB. Keating / J. BleekemolenMercedes - AMG GT3114-
24GTDB. Sellers / M. SnowLamborghini Huracan GT3114-
25GTDP. Lindsey / J. BergmeisterPorsche 911 GT3 R113-
26GTDJ. Segal / O. Negri Jr.Acura NSX GT3113-
27GTDC. MacNeil / G. JeannetteMercedes - AMG GT3113-
28PCG. Grist / J. VanceORECA FLM09113-
29GTDJ. Hawksworth / R. AlonLexus RCF GT3113-
30GTDK. Habul / T. VautierMercedes - AMG GT3112-
31GTDJ. Bennett / C. BraunPorsche 911 GT3 R112-
32GTDM. de Quesada / D. MoradPorsche 911 GT3 R112-
33GTLMP. Pilet / D. WernerPorsche 911 RSR109Engine
34GTLMO. Gavin / T. MilnerChevrolet Corvette C7.R102Accident
35PJ. van Overbeek / L. DeraniNissan DPi89Engine
36PR. Van Der Zande / M. GoossensMultimatic/Riley MK3035Did Not Finish

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