ALTON, Va. – Something happened in Sunday’s two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia Int’l Raceway that has never happened before in IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship history dating back to 2014.
The GT Le Mans class finishing order had teammates finishing together from top to bottom, led by the Porsche GT Team which scored a 1-2 sweep on the 3.27-mile, 17-turn circuit. No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR driver Nick Tandy led his teammates, Earl Bamber in the No. 912 Porsche across the line by 0.737 seconds to score the third victory of the season for himself and his co-driver, Patrick Pilet.
It was the sixth victory of the season for the Porsche GT Team and was the second VIR victory for Tandy and Pilet, who won here in 2015. The two Porsches dominated most of the race, combining to lead 86 of the 88 laps completed in the race.
The No. 911 led a race-high 48 laps, including the last 20 after Tandy claimed the lead when Richard Westbrook surrendered it to make his final pit stop of the race in the No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT. After that, it came down to teammates Tandy and Bamber to settle it between themselves.
A final full-course caution came out with 21 minutes to go when Katherine Legge crashed in turn nine in the No. 57 Heinricher Racing with Meyer Shank Acura NSX GT3. That set the stage for one last duel, and while Tandy had concerns coming into the restart with just under nine minutes left, he managed to keep Bamber at bay to win for the first time since June’s race at Watkins Glen Int’l.
“This weekend was really suited to the tires we were using, and it was really quick,” Tandy said. “It hasn’t always been like that. Road America, we were really struggling as a matter of fact, but we still managed to pull a result out of the bag and get a third-place finish with the No. 912 car.
“I think it’s this sort of thing that’s made our season. Things like, we won Sebring due to a great team performance, it’s not about having a great car, and that’s what I’m most proud of. It’s not about having a pole and then just driving around. When you battle and you work as a unit, I think it’s really shown this year we have two sides of the garage working together.”
The victory all but sealed the WeatherTech Championship GT Le Mans manufacturer’s title for Porsche, which only needs to earn the minimum points for starting the final two races of the season to win it.
“It’s a perfect day,” Pilet said. “We had a tough qualy for Nick. He was really (upset) he went off, but I told him never give up. We have a great car. The guys make an excellent job. All the Michelin tires were working perfectly on our car this weekend.
“Yeah, the manufacturer’s championship was the first step, so this is done now, we can fight until the end with our sister car, which made a great job today. It was a great fight with them. We will try to make their life a bit more difficult for the driver’s championship. Even if it’s not easy, we will never give up until the end. It’s a great day for Porsche.”
With the victory, Tandy and Pilet closed the gap in the driver and team standings to 11 points, 280-269, behind Bamber and his co-driver Laurens Vanthoor. The No. 912 duo known earned their seventh podium result of the season.
Finishing third were No. 3 Corvette Racing co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, who now have finished on the podium in four consecutive races at VIR dating back to their first of two consecutive wins starting in 2016. Fourth place went to the other Chevrolet Corvette C7.R, the No. 4 co-driven by Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing occupied the next two positions. Westbrook and co-driver Ryan Briscoe saw their winning streak snapped at two straight races with a fifth-place ride in the No. 67, ahead of teammates Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand, who took sixth in the No. 66 Ford GT.
BMW Team RLL completed the GTLM field. Defending winner Connor De Phillippi teamed with Tom Blomqvist to finish seventh in the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE ahead of John Edwards and Jesse Krohn in the No. 24 entry.