#10 Cadillac Wins Petit Le Mans After The Leaders Wreck Each Other

Fred Smith
·4 mins read
Photo credit: Brian Cleary - Getty Images
Photo credit: Brian Cleary - Getty Images

From Road & Track

Like so many other IMSA endurance races over the years, the sheer length of theten hour Petit Le Mans was not enough to keep the race from ending in controversy over an incident in a battle for a race win.

This year's controversial incident came in the battle for the overall win. An earlier incident had buried the #6 Penske Racing Acura that had led the first half of the race further back in the field, opening up a heated battle between Penske Racing's #7 Acura and Action Express Racing's #31 Cadillac. The battle heated up with two hours remaining, with Penske's Alexander Rossi holding off Action Express driver Felipe Nasr after Nasr attempted an exceptionally aggressive outside-in move. Rossi ceded the Acura to Ricky Taylor in the final stint, while Action Express went to Pipo Derani. This is when Derani saw his chance.

Derani saw a small gap between him and Taylor in turn 1, and decided that the ultra high speed corner was a perfectly fine place to pass for what would become the overall lead. He got through cleanly, but the unbelievably aggressive move brushed Taylor the wrong way. About twenty minutes later, Taylor caught Derani and saw his own opportunity.

This is where things went wrong.

Derani left an even smaller opening for Taylor, but Taylor understood that he had the faster car and would have precious few opportunities to get back into the race lead. He dove in, Derani offered him no room, and both spun. The #31 Cadillac was heavily damaged, while the #7 Acura would be healthy enough to finish second.

The incident opened the door for the #10 Cadillac of Wayne Taylor Racing, ironically owned by Ricky Taylor's father. WTR came into the race as the championship leader, but had not won a DPi event since the 24 Hours of Daytona in January. The win extends their championship lead, giving the team a tremendous opportunity to win a title in their final season as a Cadillac program before switching to Acura power in 2021.

The incident between Taylor and Derani could easily have been attributed to Taylor, who entered the corner zone aggressively with his front tires not clear of Derani's rears. The stewards chose not to issue a penalty to either driver, however, perhaps due to Derani's earlier aggression in the initial pass for the lead. Cameras caught Taylor and Derani talking post-race, with both choosing to step away from the rest of their teams after Taylor's brother Jordan and teammate Helio Castroneves both seemed angry at something Derani said. With no penatly assessed, the #7 Acura was scored in second overall. The #31 Cadillac finished fifth, two laps down.

In the same minute Derani first passed Taylor, the #24 BMW that had been leading GTLM throughout the day went off track from the class lead. Grass on the grille from the incident forced the car to pit, opening the door to both Porsche and Corvette Racing. The #911 Porsche outlasted the #3 Corvette on the restart for the Derani/Taylor incident twenty minutes later, and an additional caution for the #912 Porsche, which crashed out of third in class a few laps later, ended the race, securing the win for Porsche #911. The victory was the first of the season for the German company's North American factory program, which is set to end when this year of IMSA racing ends at the 12 Hours of Sebring. Past history implies that Porsche will eventually be back in American GT racing, but this may be the last IMSA win for a factory-backed Porsche program for some time.

The final two yellows muted a potentially exciting race in GTD, where the #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari of Alessandro Balzan, Cooper MacNeil, and Jeff Westphal overcame a mid-race collision with the #77 Mazda DPi entry to take a class win. AIM Vasser Sullivan's #14 Lexus and GRT Magnus Racing's #44 Lamborghini rounded out the class podium.

The #8 LMP2 car, run by Starworks Motorsports, won the four-car LMP2 class by five laps.

IMSA will run its final sprint race of the season at Laguna Seca in two weeks, before ending the season with the re-scheduled 12 Hours of Sebring in November.

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