By Christopher DeHarde, Staff Writer
ELKHART LAKE, Wisconsin — All it took was one small mistake at Turn 5 and Dane Cameron was right on Harry Tincknell’s rear wing on the last lap at Road America.
An aggressive defense on Tincknell’s part kept Cameron behind as the Brit an co-driver Jonathan Bomarito gave Mazda Team Joest their third consecutive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship victory in Sunday’s IMSA Road Race Showcase.
The No. 55 Mazda RT24-P DPi led 44 laps of the eventual 83 turned in Sunday’s two hour, 40 minute sprint race. Going caution free meant that the teams had to save fuel near the end and that happened with Tincknell.
“The last 5-6 laps it started to get a little bit tight, you know,” said Tincknell. “I think I had two or three laps in the Carousel where I caught a GT car at the wrong point and you lose two seconds minimum in a prototype and the gap went from five seconds to almost on me going into the last lap. I felt ‘come on, surely, I’ve had 2-3 poor laps of traffic, it’s all going to sort of come out okay’ and luckily it did. Just so happy for the team, Mazda Team Joest have done a fantastic job all weekend, Multimatic, AER, you know again, once again gave us a fantastic car.”
Jeroen Bleekemolen was in the No. 33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT3 and went wide on the last lap to let the prototypes through on the inside. That was a bit of a wild card because it let Cameron catch up to Tincknell and attempt a lunge going to Turn 6.
“I ran wide, I knew I was going to but I knew I had to pass [Bleekemolen] to try and get a car in between us,” said Tincknell. “So I came back on the track, I was fairly aggressive in defending but managed to close the corner off before [Cameron] got alongside so I wasn’t worried about anything with race control.”
Cameron and co-driver Juan Pablo Montoya currently lead the DPi class standings and weren’t going to put their No. 6 ARX-05 DPi in any more risk than they had to for the championship.
“I ran a little bit wide and I was just a touch wide behind and just couldn’t get it squared up in time,” said Cameron. “They have pretty good acceleration, pretty good power and just couldn’t quite get there. Yeah, I don’t know, kind of one of those your standard racing ‘oh, one more lap, two more laps, whatever, maybe we could’ve,’ that kind of thing.
“We’re in a lot better place than they are for the championship so they’re prepared to take a lot more risks to win races. We want to win races but we’ve got to make sure we finish and keep padding the points lead. If we did that, it would’ve been nice to win and get that extra three points but it’s still going in the right direction, that’s what matters.”
Unofficially, Cameron and Montoya lead the points with 239 ahead of the No. 31 Action Express Racing duo of Felipe Nasr and Pipo Derani on 232. Bomarito is third by himself with 222 points since Tincknell had to miss Mid-Ohio because of a prior commitment with the FIA World Endurance Championship.
The next race for the WeatherTech Championship is the Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway on August 25th for the GTLM and GTD cars. The DPi machines will be in action in September at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca with the rest of the classes.