Meyer Shank Racing Acura Wins Petit Le Mans, IMSA Title

Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images
Photo credit: Icon Sportswire - Getty Images

Co-factory Acura programs Meyer Shank Racing and Wayne Taylor Racing came into today's 10-hour Petit Le Mans with a simple championship picture: if either car finished in the top five, the champion would be whichever of the two cars were ahead at the time. That, of course, ended with the two together on track, fighting for the race lead, in the race's final hours.

The two Acuras were not always racing for the lead, however. Chip Ganassi Racing's two Cadillacs led for most of the race, including heading into the final hour of running. The two stopped together, coming out third and fourth on track with 45 minutes to go. Then they caught each other on track. Then, the single worst thing a pair of teammates can do.

The No. 02 of Earl Bamber led into turn 1, but he had slowed earlier on the front straight for a GTD car. That created an opportunity for the No. 01 of Renger van der Zande, which van der Zande happily took by darting to the outside ahead of the right-handed turn 1. Bamber tried to hold the position by braking very late, but he overcooked the corner. Both cars ended up in the turn 1 wall, ending their shot at winning the last race and effectively opening the door for an Acura to win what was the final race for the DPi class.

While the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Acura led when the caution came out, the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura took the lead in the pit lane. Closing MSR driver Tom Blomqvist built a massive lead through GTD traffic early in the stint, but the lead of nearly four seconds disappeared over just a few laps when Blomqvist caught GTD traffic again. That left WTR closing driver Filipe Albuquerque with a familiar opportunity to pass on the outside in turn 1, which Albuquerque backed out of. A few corners later, however, Albuquerque's aggressive push through the esses led to side-to-side contact with the No. 57 Winward Racing GTD car. Rear suspension damage resulting from the hit ended the No. 10's hopes of a championship, while the No. 57 would find the turn 1 gravel and end the race with a full course yellow a few laps later.

For Meyer Shank Racing, it is the perfect end to a team-best season. The team that started the year with a win at Daytona will finish it with another signature endurance win. Full-timers Tom Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis are champions, while part-timer Helio Castroneves adds another impressive win with MSR to a list that already includes the 2022 Rolex 24 and 2021 Indianapolis 500. MSR closes out the DPi era with a win and a title before preparing for a new challenge in a hybrid Acura when the GTP class debuts in January.

For Wayne Taylor Racing, it's a crushing story. It is the team's second straight crash in the last twenty minutes of this race, the third for driver Ricky Taylor after an incident of his own opened up the door for WTR to win this event in 2021. Like last year, this crash ended a fight for a championship.

In GTD Pro, a dramatic four-car battle over three corners allowed the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari to move up to second in the race's closing laps. That opened the door for a move for the lead a few laps later, but the team went over the four-hours-in-six drive time limitation for one time driver and were later disqualified from what had become a runaway win. That meant the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F of Kyle Kirkwood, Jack Hawksworth, and Ben Barnicoat inherited the win, the program's first-ever win in an endurance race. The No. 25 Rahal Letterman BMW M4 GT3 and No. 9 Pfaff Porsche completed the podium, while the Pfaff car clinched the inaugural GTD Pro championship by taking the green flag earlier in the race.

Gradient Racing's Acura NSX broke through in the pro-am GTD class, running near the front all day before Mario Farnbacher held the lead for co-drivers Till Bechtolsheimer and Kyffin Simpson over the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren and No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW throughout the final stint. It is the inaugural win for a program that joined the grid in 2020.

In LMP2, Louis Deletraz beat out Juan Pablo Montoya on the day's final stint to take a class win for the No. 8 Tower Motorsports entry and co-drivers John Farano and Rui Pinto de Andrade. The No. 36 Andretti Autosport car of Gabby Chaves, Jarrett Andretti, and Josh Burdon won in LMP3.

While the DPi era may officially be over, the GTP program begins on Monday. A three-day, all-manufacturer group test will open a short, busy offseason for all of BMW, Cadillac, Porsche, and Acura. All four new LMDh-based GTP cars will debut at the 24 Hours of Daytona in January.

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