The #86 Acura NSX GT3 of Katherine Legge and Alvaro Parente came from behind – twice – to score a dominating GTD class victory Sunday at The America’s Tire 250 at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.
In Prototype, Dane Cameron led the first 41 laps in his Acura ARX-05 as he and Juan Pablo Montoyacombined to finish third, the sixth podium finish of the season for Acura Team Penske.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3
After qualifying on the pole Saturday with a new lap record time, Legge fell from first to fourth when she was balked by slower traffic on a Lap 7 restart. But a race setup developed earlier in the weekend for the MSR Acura NSX GT3 provided for excellent tire wear, and Legge also stretched her fuel mileage to both regain the lead and run the first half of the two-hour, 40-minute contest before pitting and handing over the driving duties to Parente.
Parente continued to build his advantage to a 20-second margin over second place, but a slight delay during his final pit stop – due to a jammed wheel gun – saw him drop to fourth with just 30 minutes remaining. However another strong drive saw Parente close on the leaders and then regain the GTD lead in the final 10 minutes, setting the fastest GTD race lap in the process. Parente then took the checkers for his first win aboard the #86 Acura this year, and the second for Legge and the MSR team.
The #93 MSR Acura of Justin Marks and Lawson Aschenbach started 10th, but was caught up in a multi-car collision on the Lap 7 restart and was forced to retire with body and chassis damage.
With one race remaining, Acura and Legge remain second in the GTD Manufacturers’ and Drivers’ championships, respectively. Legge’s win today closes the gap to leaders Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow to just six points (303-297) while Acura remains second in the Manufacturers’ Championship with 298 points to 310 for Lamborghini.
Acura Team Penske Prototype
Starting second in the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05, Cameron went around the outside of pole qualifier Jordan Taylor at the green flag, and Helio Castroneves followed suit to claim second place as a full-course caution waved for a multi-car collision behind the leaders.
Cameron continued to lead until pitting on Lap 41, handing the car over to Montoya, who resumed in third. Montoya ran third throughout the middle stint as he worked to save fuel and minimize his final pit-stop time. That strategy failed to pay off, as Montoya exited the pits in third and held that position to the finish. The third-place result was the fourth podium finish of the season for Cameron and Montoya.
In the #7 Acura ARX-05, Helio Castroneves ran as high as second in his opening stint but, with just four minutes remaining, contact with a slower car for co-driver Ricky Taylor ended their race with suspension damage.
The WeatherTech SportsCar Championship now takes three weeks off before resuming October 13 for the season-ending Petit Le Mans 10-hour endurance contest at Road Atlanta near Gainesville, Ga.
Social media content and video links from this weekend’s Acura Motorsports IMSA sports car action at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca are available on HPD’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/HondaRacingHPD) and on Twitter at (https://twitter.com/HondaRacing_HPD).
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Katherine Legge (driver, #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) finished first, second win of 2018, 2nd in GTD Drivers’ Championship (six points out of first) with one race remaining: “Wow, this guy [Alvaro Parente] did an amazing job. To get us back in the lead from P4 there. I thought our day was over [after a slight delay in the final pit stop, dropping the car from the GTD lead to fourth]. The whole team gave us a brilliant car. It was our race to lose, really. We had the best car and everyone on the team over-performed. We saw the other cars’ tires going off. I predicted it on about Lap 3. I told the pit box ‘they’re burning the tires off those cars, I don’t know what they’re doing!’. We were just smarter. I think we honestly deserved this one. This [win] is huge for us. That result was everything for us. We’ve closed the gap, so now it’s down to the last race. I don’t know that I’m going to be sleeping that well the next few weeks.”
Alvaro Parente (driver, #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3) finished first, second win of 2018 for #86 MSR Acura: “When you’ve got such a good car like we had today, it makes life a lot easier. I think we made all the right decisions this weekend in terms of setup. Obviously, Katherine [Legge] putting it on pole and having a great run got us off to a great start. It was almost a perfect weekend. I knew we were the strongest car on track, especially as the run went on and their tires fell off much more than ours.”
Dane Cameron (driver, #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05) finished third, sixth podium finish of 2018 for Acura Team Penske: “It was nice to lead some laps in the first stint there, but we got jumped a bit in the [pit stop] cycle, and kind of struggled a little bit there towards the end. But it is what it is; we just didn’t have quite enough today to get the win. We’ll take today’s podium and go on to Petit Le Mans [season finale], where we’ll have one more shot to get a win for the ‘Six Bunch.'”
Stephen Eriksen (Vice President and COO, Honda Performance Development) on today’s race: “First off, congratulations to Meyer Shank Racing on what turned out to be a very successful race weekend: pole, fastest race lap and the GTD win. Congratulations to Acura Team Penske for their podium finish in what was a very challenging and event-filled race. We’re looking forward to the final race of the season next month and closing out on a high note.”
SOURCE Acura Motorsports
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