By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
BRASELTON, Georgia — Some crafty pit strategy has given some teams the first batch of Michelin Endurance Cup points in the 2019 Motul Petit Le Mans.
With five minutes left before the four hour mark, Action Express Racing had the No. 5 Cadillac DPi in the lead, but Mike Conway pitted, as did Tristan Nunez in the No. 77 Mazda Team Joest entry and Simon Pagenaud in the No. 6 Acura Team Penske machine.
The pole-sitting No. 31 Action Express Racing Cadillac led with Felipe Nasr behind the wheel ahead of the No. 5 sister car and Timo Bernhard in the No. 77 Mazda was third.
In LMP2, Cameron Cassels went off-line following an overtake by the No. 6 Penske Acura and after a collision with the No. 7 Acura, the ORECA entry hit the wall at the end of the esses, causing an immediate retirement and giving immediate LMP2 class victory to the No. 52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports entry.
In GTLM, the Risi Competizione Ferrari led during much of the opening few hours of the race before the No. 911 Porsche took over the lead late in the first four hours. However, the Coca-Cola-liveried car had to stop for fuel and tires with under two minutes to go until the four hour mark, promoting the No. 67 Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT of Scott Dixon to the class lead over their teammate, the No. 66 Ford GT.
In GTD, Toni Vilander pitted the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 from the lead three minutes after four hours elapsed. Vilander inherited the lead just a few minutes prior after Marco Seefried in the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 and Bill Auberlen in the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 pitted. Second place at the four hour mark in GTD was the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3.
The race had two full course yellows in the first four hours of the race. The first one was for Cassels going off into the wall and the second was for Aaron Telitz stopping the No. 12 AIM Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 in the grass following contact with both the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing Cadillac and then the wall at the top of the hill before the esses.
The No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 won the GTD class championship by taking the green flag. By finishing ahead of the No. 48 Lamborghini, they will secure the manufacturer’s title, Lamborghini having come into the race with a one point lead in that championship fight.