Some describe Road America as “North America’s Nürburgring.” The four-mile track cut into Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine region shares many characteristics with the infamous German track: high-speed turns, fast straights, and often little space between the edge of the track and disaster. It’s these features that make it a favorite for drivers and fans of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar challenge.
The series’ tenth round was held at the historic circuit situated just south of Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin the weekend of August 9, 2014. The event started off with a test day on Thursday, followed by practice and qualifying on Friday, and the race on Saturday.
After teams used the test sessions on Thursday to hone their setups, practice started bright and early on Friday morning. In the cool and dry conditions, the quickest times of the day were set in the first practice session. The No. 8 Aston Martin of Mantella and Wilkins clocked the quickest time, but Jade Buford and Scott Maxwell weren’t far behind in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Mustang BOSS 302R. Kurt Rezzetano and Andrew Aquilante (No. 32 Phoenix American Motorsports Mustang BOSS 302R) and David Levine and Lucas Bize were third and fourth quickest, respectively.
In qualifying, BMW professional factory driver John Edwards put the No. 46 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW M3 on the pole with a blistering 2:22.590-second lap. Billy Johnson perked up Mustang fans by filling out the second spot on the front row driving the No. 158 Multimatic Motorsports Mustang BOSS 302R. The Camaros were not far behind, however, with Matt Bell and his No. 9 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R setting the third-quickest time in qualifying. Kurt Rezzetano would start right behind Johnson in his No. 32 Phoenix American Motorsports Mustang BOSS 302R.
Beautiful and comfortable temperatures greeted the race fans when the green flag dropped for the 2.5-hour endurance race. Edwards (No. 46 BMW) led the field to turn one, but with cold tires and new brake pads, drifted a bit wide at the exit of the turn, contacting Billy Johnson (No. 158 Mustang), forcing Johnson over the curbing. Johnson rejoined the track in third place behind Rezzetano, who advanced several positions in the shuffle.
A crash in the ST-class brought out the yellow flags on the first lap. After the crash was cleaned up, the race returned to green. On lap five, Billy Johnson (No. 158 Mustang) passed John Edwards (No. 46 BMW) to take the lead.
After nearly 45 minutes of racing completed, Johnson ducked the No. 158 Mustang into the pits for fresh tires and fuel, handing the lead back to Edwards. During the pit stop, an issue while jacking the car slammed the right side of the car down before the wheels could be installed. The problem cost the team several seconds before the team could get the car off the ground. Fortunately, the car seemed OK, and the only issue was lost time in the pits.
Meanwhile, Edwards pitted and handed over driving duties to series points-leader Trent Hindman, who rejoined the race driving the No. 46 BMW well ahead of the No. 158 Mustang.
Another yellow flag came out with just over an hour remaining when the No. 47 Fall-Line Motorsports BMW went off-track. The entire GS-class field came to the pits for fresh tires and to top off with fuel…hopefully enough to go the distance to the checkered flag.
After the restart, Matt Plumb in the No. 13 Rum Bum Racing Porsche took the lead. Drivers Matt Plumb and Nick Longhi have won the past two races at Road America, and were looking for a third straight victory at the 14-turn track. Plumb lost the lead on another yellow-flag restart when Andy Lally (No. 9 Camaro) passed Plumb. However, Plumb regained the lead when Lally was forced to pit to serve a penalty for running over an air hose during his last pit stop.
With the Rum Bum Racing team looking to regain lost points in their championship hunt, it looked like a win was a real possibility…until a suspension arm broke with just a handful of laps remaining. Plumb was helpless as Lawson Aschenbach (No. 01 Camaro) drove past to take the lead. However, Pierre Kleinubing (No. 76 Subaru WRX-STI) used his all-wheel-drive machine to drive around Aschenbach into the lead.
Kleinubing lead the field on the last lap until he slowed on the last corner. Aschenbach powered past Kleinubing up the hill to the finish line to snatch the win in dramatic fashion!
The victory the No. 01 CKS Autosport Camaro Z/28.R was the first of the season for Lawson Achenbach and Eric Curran. Andrew Davis and Robin Liddell came in second in their No. 6 Stevenson Motorsports Camaro Z/28.R. Ray Mason and Pierre Kleinubing limped their No. 76 WRX across the finish line third. Series points leader Trent Hindman and John Edwards brought their BMW M3 home fourth.
With their runner-up finish, Liddel and Davis closed the gap four additional championship points on leader Hindman. With only three rounds remaining, the championship battle is heating up! Next up: Virginia International Raceway on August 23rd!