By IMSA Wire Service
BRASELTON, Ga. – It was a night of firsts for two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona (GTD) teams during Saturday’s 10-hour Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
After earning the Motul Pole Award on Friday – the team’s first of the season – the No. 63 Scuderia Corsa WeatherTech Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 crossed the finish line ahead of the field to earn its first win of 2018 with co-drivers Cooper MacNeil and Gunnar Jeannette joined by endurance driver Daniel Serra. It was the team’s first win in the Ferrari, which became the seventh different manufacturer to win a GTD race this season.
“Honestly, I couldn’t think of a better way to finish off the WeatherTech Championship in a WeatherTech car,” said MacNeil. “Big hat’s off to Daniel and Gunnar and the entire WeatherTech Scuderia Corsa team. Nobody put a wheel off, nobody made any mistakes, no mistakes in pit lanes and that’s what it takes to win in this competitive championship like WeatherTech. It was just about executing, hitting our marks.”
The Motul Petit Le Mans not only set the stage for a race victory, but also for a narrow GTD championship battle featuring Paul Miller Racing teammates Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow ahead of Katherine Legge in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX by six points.
A podium finish by Paul Miller’s No. 48 Lamborghini Huracán GT3 was all that was required for the team to lock in its first championship and at the end of Saturday’s race, the team met that expectation. Sellers and Snow – joined by Corey Lewis, who also co-drove with the team to victory in March’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring Presented by Advance Auto Parts – finished third on the podium, the team’s eighth of the season.
The GTD championship is a first for all involved – the two drivers, the manufacturer and the team.
“Our whole season was fight,” said Sellers. “The (No.) 86 is probably one of the toughest competitors that I’ve ever run against in all the seasons I’ve done this. Madison and I talked at the beginning of the year and we felt if we could just knock off podiums and top fives, we’d have a shot at this.
“Paul Miller is the reason we get to do this. This is his 10th year doing this and this is his first driver championship and first team championship. I just think when you look at someone’s commitment over the years that he’s done it, he’s a lifetime racer and without him, the three of us don’t get to do this and stand up here and stand on the podium. But it’s not just us, he employs all the guys behind the scenes that make this work.”
“Honestly to crown off a dream year, the Paul Miller Racing team has done an incredible job,” said Chris Ward, senior manager, Motorsport Automobili Lamborghini America. “The drivers have performed above all expectations, and then to come away with a championship win against fantastic competition. I’m sure the fans were given a spectacle that they’ll remember. Today’s race was an amazing event, just fantastic. I can’t wait to roll into the paddock at Daytona for the Roar (Before the 24 in January).”
Legge, co-driving with Alvaro Parente and Trent Hindman, finished runner-up for her seventh podium of the season. She also held second place in the point standings by four points.
For the second consecutive year, the No. 33 Mercedes-AMG Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4 team secured the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup title across all three GTD categories: driver, team and manufacturer. Ben Keating and Jeroen Bleekemolen were a part of last year’s winning lineup and this year were joined by Luca Stolz. Keating and Bleekemolen also finished third in the final GTD championship standings.
A television re-air for the Motul Petit Le Mans is scheduled for Sunday, October 14 at 6 a.m. ET on FS1.