By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — PFAFF Motorsports won Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase at Road America with a driver that was competing in his fourth ever race in America.
Matt Campbell raced at the Rolex 24 this year, the Sebring 1000 miles WEC race, Lime Rock Park and now Road America with a win at America’s National Park of Speed for PFAFF Motorsports in the team’s No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R with co-driver Zacharie Robichon.
The Canadian team saved fuel during the race while running second behind the Paul Miller Racing No. 48 Lamborghini Huracan GT3. Bryan Sellers was attempting to give Paul Miller Racing their first podium finish since Mid-Ohio in May and their first win since Lime Rock last July but after the last sequence of pit stops, the Lamborghini was second following a short fill by PFAFF Motorsports.
“The most difficult part was keeping him behind as I came out of the pits from the last stop,” said Campbell. “Obviously we caught [Sellers] quite quickly in the middle stint. We knew we had good pace and we had to try and do something different to be able to jump him in the pit stops so we really conserved fuel to be able to short fill in the next stop and we were able to jump him. For sure the out lap was the toughest part of the race, trying to keep him behind.”
Campbell was brought into the team after racing for Wright Motorsports at the most recent round at Lime Rock. The Australian has many wins with Porsche, including the 2019 Bathurst 12 Hours, a class win at the 2019 24 Hours of Dubai and a class win in the 2018 24 Hours of Le Mans.
For all the joy Campbell and the PFAFF team experienced, it may have been more relief for the Paul Miller Racing squad. The defending GTD class champions have had a massive struggle in 2018, missing the race at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park following an incident early in the weekend. That incident injured Ryan Hardwick to the point that his knee required surgery, eliminating him from competing for the rest of the 2019 season. Corey Lewis was drafted to drive and drive Lewis did, leading 35 laps following the Riley Motorsports No. 33 Mercedes AMG GT3 car breaking some suspension and going to the pits for extended repairs.
Despite being jumped in the pits and finishing second, Sellers had to take the positives away from the weekend.
“It’s really great when you can take home trophies, being on the podium is what you come for,” said Sellers. “In all honesty it’s kind of bittersweet because we led two of basically three hours of the race and to come home second, it’s tough. But, second is better than third and way better than not being on the podium so I think we have to take this momentum moving forward, figure out how we need to get better, try and apply it and try to go to VIR.”
A crash during the Rolex 24, losing power at Watkins Glen and the incident in Canada has held the team back quite a bit this year. However, working through those issues resulted in Road America possibly being a turning point for the final third of the season coming up.
“It’s been a number of hurdles,” said Sellers. “We’ve been hit by a few cars that have taken us out of races, we’ve had a couple of mechanical failures, maybe once we had a race car that wasn’t fast enough, so you know sometimes things kind of roll your way. And even like last year when we were on podium after podium after podium, we found ourselves not always having the fastest race car but running one of the best races and this year we haven’t quite done that yet. Maybe today was one of those days but up until now it’s been a little bit of a struggle but we’ll get it turned around and now things are starting to head in the right direction.”
The next WeatherTech Championship race is the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on August 25th.