The margin of victory was significantly closer for Bijoy Garg from the day before in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, but it was a victory nonetheless and extended the Californian’s championship lead.
Garg guided the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 to his sixth overall and LMP3 class win of the series’ inaugural season on Sunday at Virginia International Raceway, as well as his third sweep of a weekend doubleheader. As opposed to winning by more than 31 seconds on Saturday, however, Garg edged Alex Kirby (No. 7 Performance Tech Motorsports Ligier) by a mere 0.109s at the checkered flag.
Garg built an eight-second lead early into the 45-minute race before the only full-course caution came when GSX class driver Todd Coleman’s No. 69 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4 tumbled upside down after a collision with Vin Barletta in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4. Coleman was not injured, and racing resumed with 17 minutes remaining.
Garg quickly pulled away again until he was balked by slower traffic several times in the closing minutes, allowing Kirby to close in and attach his No. 7 Ligier to the No. 3’s tail. Garg fended off a couple overtaking attempts to hold off Kirby for the win by the narrow margin.
“I had a good gap before the safety car came out, was pulling away, then it bunched the field back up,” Garg said. “I think he took better care of his tires than me, so I was just struggling to hang on. I knew in clean air that I could easily pull away but we just kept catching traffic in the wrong spots and that really brought him back into it. I had to defend from him pretty hard.”
The twin victories this weekend helped Garg extend his LMP3 lead to 70 points over Dan Goldburg, who finished third overall Sunday in the No. 73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08 but was able to keep his LMP3 Bronze Cup winning record perfect with a late overtake of Brian Thienes (No. 77 Forte Racing Powered by US RaceTronics Ligier).
“Really happy to win and happy to extend our points lead even further,” Garg said. “I think we’re in a very good spot with the points. It’s easier to defend a points lead in my opinion than to overhaul one.”
Liefooghe collects series-leading third GSX victory
Every time Gregory Liefooghe drives in the VP Racing Challenge, he’s a threat to win. He proved it again Sunday, taking the GSX class victory in the No. 19 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4. Liefooghe has competed in five races this season, winning a series-high three and finishing second the other times.
A day after charging from last on the grid to finish second, Liefooghe started from the GSX pole Sunday and was never seriously challenged. He kept Saturday race winner Francis Selldorff at bay on both the race start and restart, gradually pulling away from the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW both times to establish comfortable margins.
“The key was not starting from the back,” Liefooghe said. “It was really, really hard to pass Francis yesterday — actually, I didn’t pass him. Those BMWs are pretty tough cars to pass even if you’re in another BMW, so today was just managing the lead.
“This new BMW (G82 version) has been really amazing for us,” he added. “They kind of built on all the strengths that the previous car had. It’s a little bit better everywhere. It seems to have a little bit more tuneability than the old car as well, so we’re able to tune it a little bit better for each track. Overall, the car is just amazing.”
Selldorff finished second in GSX ahead of Sebastian Carazo (No. 27 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport) in third. Selldorff leads Carazo by 230 points with only the season-ending doubleheader at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta from Oct. 11-13 remaining.