Thursday, October 12, 2023

IMSA: 2023 Petit Le Mans Season Finale another Nail Biter

As which IndyCar team owner will become this year’s Prototypes Champion?


This year’s 26th running of the Motul Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta Saturday, October 14th will feature another winner take All outcome! As there are four IMSA GTP teams competing to win the Prototypes Championship. With the Top-three title competitors being an amazing five points apart of each other!


As the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Action Express Racing (AXR) Cadillac V-Series.R of Pipo Derani and Alexander Sims lead the points battle with 2460 points. Then just a scant three markers back (2457) is the No. 10 Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Autosport’s Acura ARX-06 with Ricky Taylor and Filipe Albuquerque at it’s controls. Nipping at Thar’ Heels a further two markers adrift (2455) is the No. 6 Porsche Penske Motorsports duo of Mathieu Jaminet and Nick Tandy. Having taken their Porsche 963 to victory at the latest race at Rodger’s “Playground” at Mother Speedway.


Needing All three of these teams to run into trouble, along with needing to finish multiple places ahead of them. The #25 Team BMW Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing entry of Nick Yelloly and Conor De Filipe have an outside chance of clinching the title aboard their BMW M8 Hybrid, albeit the duo currently ranks fourth with 2422 points; 38-points adrift.


Interestingly, the WTR Andretti entry is the only one of these four title Contendahs’ to have not won a race. Instead just having amassed three podium finishes; a pair of second’s and one third place.


While the Whelen Engineering Cadillac and Team BMW RLL have both one win apiece. With the Porsche Penske having scored two W’s in what’s been deemed a Feast or Famine season.


Although I suppose it’s worth mentioning that the Seester’ No. 7 Penske Porsche is still mathematically alive at 2387 points; 73-adrift…


Being the final endurance race of the season, with currently five IndyCar teams competing, i.e.; Andretti Auto, Err Andretti Global, Chip Ganassi Racing, Meyer Shank Racing, (MSR) Rahal Letterman Lanigan Racing and Team Penske. Although MSR will lose it’s Acura ARX-06 next year when Wayne Taylor Racing with Andretti Global becomes a two car Acura program. Alas, Thars’ plenty for IndyCar fans to keep track of.


Everybody in the race’s five classes, i.e.; GTP, LMP2, LMP3, GTD Pro and GT Daytona (GTD) will be employing a third Enduro’ specialist for the ten hours race, with current IndyCar driver Scott Dixon joining the #01 Ganassi (CGR) Cadd-Oh-lacc’ as usual alongside Sebastien Bourdais and Renger van der Zande. As  Dixon was the only current IndyCar driver I knew for certain being on the Grid when beginning to scribble thisNo Fenders tome…


Yet of note, initially Josef Newgarden and Jenson Button were listed as TBA on the series potential season’s competitors entries in the GTP ranks. Wit Newgarden in the No. 7 Penske Porsche 963 and Button in the No. 5 “Mach 5 Mustang Sally”, Err Sampling? JDC-Miller Motorsports customer Porsche 963.


Having learned that indeed both Newgarden and Button will be making their IMSA GTP debuts at Road Atlanta, with both drivers racing in Porsche 963’s for the first time. Whilst it’s also Button’s debut racing in IMSA competition.


Two other IndyCar drivers I was unaware of potentially competing are ScottyMac’, aka Scott McLaughlin and Helio Casstroneves participation. As McLaughlin will possibly reunite with the No. 8Tower Motorsports in LMP2.


Whilst don’t be surprised if Castroneves whose been an “Afterthought” for Mwah this entire IndyCar season, once again Moonlights aboard the #60 MSR Acura GTP entry.


Believe the LMP2 title fight is between George Kurtz and Company in the #04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR vs. Ben Keating and Company in the No. 52 PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports entry. With both running the dominant Oreca 07 LMP2 chassis.


Oopsadaisy! Actually Nikkel Jensen and Steven Thomas in the NO. 55 TDF Racing lead the LMP2 title fight with 1680 points. Keating and Paul-Loup Chatin are a scant twenty markers adrift at 1660 points, with Kurtz and Ben Hanley third on 1580 points.


Not sure if the points structure is the same for every IMSA category? If so, then I believe there’s still a maximum of 385 points on offer at Road Atlanta? Meaning it appears to still be a three way title fight in LMP2. Arse-sumedly winner take all But I don’t know how the Michelin Endurance Cup points factor into the outcome? Since pretty sure this is the final round of that separate championship.


And although I Don’t Know Nothing! About the first and third place LMP2 runners. It’s potentially shaping up to be a banner year for Keating. As the talented Texan “Gentleman” driver has already won the final FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) LMGTE AM Championship. Along with winning this year’s 24 Heurs du Mans category aboard the Larbre Competition Corvette C8.R, after being two laps down! And is now on the cusp of His second title this season.


Not to mention becoming part of United Autosports two car IMSA LMP2 Full season entry next year. Driving for somebody named Mr. Zakery Brown and co-owner Richard Dean.


While there are simply way too many former IndyCar drivers on the Grid to bother typing. Other than I’d Arse-sume current IndyCar driver Kyle Kirkwood will once again be Moonlighting aboard the #12 Lexus RF C GT3 in the GT Daytona category…


And speaking ‘O Lexus. Former IndyCar team owners Top Jimmy’ (Vasser) and James Sully’ Sullivan, who run Lexus’s two car IMSA program. Will claim their first IMSA GTD Pro Championship by simply taking the green flag on Saturday. With former IndyCar driver Jack Hawksworth and Ben Barnicoat becoming Class Champions aboard the No. 14 Lexus entry.


The #1 Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 wit Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow has already won the GTD (Daytona) Championship on the strength of a record five wins. Whilst I’m fairly certain that Gar Robinson and His No. 74 Riley Motorsports Ligier have a lock upon the LMP3 category, which is making it’s series swan song at Road Atlanta.


Arse-sumedly television coverage will once again begin on Big NBC with an Hour’s or more “teaser” before shifting over to USA Network for a few hours. And then Arse-suming to Peacock in order to make way for USA Network running a brace of Law and Order or Chicago PD reruns…


And then who knows where the finish of the race winds up on television? Since by then, I’ll have long switched over to IMSA Radio’s coverage with John Hindhaugh, Jeremy Shaw and Shea Adam. So as Always, I’ll leave it to Y’all to check your local listings.