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Braun’s Beastly Acura Leads Canadian Tire Motorsport Park Practice

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BOWMANVILLE, Ontario (IMSA) – Lap times during the opening practice for the Chevrolet Grand Prix at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park were extremely close for 88 minutes of the 90-minute session.

 

Until that point Friday afternoon, all nine Grand Touring Prototypes (GTP) entered in the sixth round of the 2023 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship were clustered within eight-tenths of a second.

 

When the green flag flew with about four minutes remaining after a brief stoppage, however, Colin Braun made the most of the limited time. He hustled the No. 60 Meyer Shank Racing with Curb-Agajanian Acura ARX-06 around the 2.459-mile CTMP road course in 1 minute, 7.341 seconds (131.456 mph) to gap the rest of the GTP field by 0.780 seconds. The remaining eight GTP competitors, led by Pipo Derani in the No. 31 Whelen Engineering Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R, were clustered within 0.769 seconds.

 

Braun expressed surprise when informed of his margin over second place.

 

“We were just kind of in our race plan,” Braun said. “We had made some changes to the car and just wanted to see what it was going to do. I had only done a couple laps in the car before the red flag, and I was just getting up to speed and figuring it out.

 

“It felt good, obviously,” he added. “I just ended up getting a clear lap and I felt good about it.”

 

Filipe Albuquerque placed the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura ARX-06 third at 1:08.138, while Renger van der Zande improved on his final lap in the No. 01 Cadillac Racing Cadillac V-Series.R to 1:08.353.

 

In the GT classes, Frankie Montecalvo posted the best overall lap with a 1:16.558 effort (115.629 mph) as the checkered flag flew for the No. 12 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 from the GT Daytona (GTD) class. That edged Frederik Schandorff in the No. 70 Inception Racing McLaren 720S GT3 EVO by 0.092 seconds.

 

Unlike Braun, Montecalvo said that he and the Vasser Sullivan team used the final four minutes of the session as a qualifying simulation.

 

“That’s exactly what it was, a ‘quali’ mentality to get ready for tomorrow,” said Montecalvo, the defending GTD pole winner at CTMP. “The car is great, and this is my favorite racetrack. The Lexus really loves high-speed circuits and so do I, and I think that’s why we mesh really well here.

 

“Last year, we got taken out from pole in the first corner, so we have some unfinished business here,” he continued. “I have the utmost confidence in our team, especially rolling off a win at Watkins Glen. We should be challenging for another win.”

 

Antonio Garcia turned the fastest lap among GT Daytona Pro (GTD PRO) entries in the No. 3 Corvette Racing Corvette C8.R GTD (1:16.724, 115.379 mph) that ranked third overall among the GT field.

 

Garett Grist (No. 30 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320) came out on top of a back-and-forth battle with Felipe Fraga (No. 74 Riley Ligier) for honors in the Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) class. The two Ligier JS P320s were separated by 0.212 seconds at the end, with the Canadian Grist running a lap of 1:12.270 (122.490 mph).

 

Motul Pole Award qualifying begins at 12:45 p.m. ET Saturday. Live coverage is available on Peacock and IMSA.com/TVLive. Sunday’s race airs live at noon on NBC.

Recaps from Michelin Pilot Challenge, VP Racing Challenge Action

A pair of other IMSA-sanctioned series were in action at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on Friday as well. The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge conducted a pair of practices and the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge held two practices and qualifying.

IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: Robin Liddell laid down the fast lap of the day in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge practice on his final circuit around CTMP at the conclusion of the second session. Driving the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R that he shares with Frank DePew, Liddell was clocked at 1 minute, 22.137 seconds (107.776 mph), a full four-tenths of a second quicker than Canadian Jesse Lazare in the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren Artura GT4.

 

Karl Wittmer, another Canada native, topped the Touring Car (TCR) class leaderboard with a 1:23.867 lap (105.227 mph) in the No. 99 Victor Gonzalez Racing Team Honda Civic FK7 TCR that he turned in the morning practice.

 

Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying starts at 10:50 a.m. ET Saturday to set the grid for the two-hour race starting at 4 p.m. Saturday. Race coverage streams live on Peacock in the U.S. and on IMSA.com/TVLive outside the U.S.

VP Racing SportsCar Challenge: Bijoy Garg continued his qualifying prowess by capturing the pole position for the fourth time in five races for the new sprint series.

Qualifying Results

The driver of the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 claimed the overall and Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) pole for Saturday’s race with a top lap of 1:13.157 (121.005 mph) on his final time around the track in the 15-minute session. Garg enters the CTMP weekend on a two-race winning streak and within 60 points of the LMP3 class lead.

In GSX, Gregory Liefooghe (No. 43 Stephen Cameron racing BMW M4 GT4 (G82)) will start on pole for the third straight race after setting the fast lap in class qualifying. Liefooghe toured the 2.459-mile road course in 1:22.533 (107.258 mph) to better the 15 other GSX competitors. Liefooghe converted two pole positions at Sebring in March into second- and first-place race finishes.

 

The first VP Racing Challenge race of the weekend streams live on Peacock in the U.S. and on IMSA.com/TVLive outside the U.S. starting at 11:40 a.m. ET Saturday. Race 2 streams live on the same outlets at 9:30 a.m. Sunday.

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Garg Doubles Up, Liefooghe Gets Redemption in VP Racing Challenge Race 2 at Sebring Managing Traffic Was Key to Victory in Both Classes

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SEBRING, Fla. – After leading every lap en route to victory in this morning’s first race of a Sunday doubleheader at Sebring International Raceway, Bijoy Garg had a much tougher time in this afternoon’s second 45-minute IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge race.

But the end result was the same, as Garg drove the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320 back into Victory Lane. Despite starting the race from the pole position, Garg surrendered the lead to Dan Goldburg in the No. 73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08 on the opening lap.

Goldburg grabbed the advantage just before the full-course caution came out due to a first-lap incident in Turn 1 involving Adrian Kunzle in the No. 54 MLT Motorsports Ligier, Scott Neal in the No. 86 Kellymoss with Riley Ligier and Courtney Crone in the No. 99 Forty7 Motorsports Duqueine. When the green flag flew again 10 minutes into the race, a three-car battle ensued at the front of the LMP3 field that included Goldburg, Garg and Antonio Serravalle in the No. 18 Muehlner Motorsports America Ligier.

Though no positions changed hands, the battle remained close among the three cars through the halfway point of the race. It was particularly close between Goldburg and Garg, who made several runs at Goldburg in traffic before finally making the decisive pass in Sebring’s famed Hairpin (Turn 7) with 15 minutes left in the race.

“I did a pretty big dive bomb, but it worked out and none of us got damage,” said Garg.

Garg then went from hunter to hunted for the next few laps as he navigated traffic with Goldburg in his mirrors, before catching a break when Goldburg spun in Turn 7 with under 10 minutes remaining. Garg went on to win by 4.949 seconds over Serravalle, picking up a Sebring weekend sweep for himself and his Jr III Racing teammates.

“I lost the lead off the start, but I wasn’t too worried,” Garg said. “I knew it all came down to the traffic and just finding an opportunity there, so as long as I stayed with (Goldburg), I was fine. I used some lapped cars, set a pick for him and then got it.

“From there, it’s all about the traffic management, as usual. It’s not easy going to a multi-class. I’m just really happy to come out with the win today.”

Serravalle was one of a number of series newcomers in the 30-car field at Sebring. He had a double podium day with a third-place run in the morning before his runner-up performance in the afternoon for the Muehlner squad.

Goldburg recovered from the spin to finish third for his fourth consecutive podium result to open the VP Racing Challenge season. He will depart the weekend atop both the overall LMP3 championship standings, as well as the Bronze driver standings. He has been the highest-finishing Bronze-rated driver in every race so far.

 

The next event for the VP Racing Challenge is scheduled for July 7-9 at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park as part of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Challenge Chevrolet Grand Prix weekend.

Liefooghe Rebounds for GSX Class Victory in No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW

Gregory Liefooghe started from the GSX class pole in the No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 and led every lap but the last one in this morning’s first 45-minute race.

And while he also started this afternoon’s race from the class pole, it appeared on the opening lap like he might come up empty on the day as he fell from first to fifth at the end of the first lap.

“The start was pretty sporty,” Liefooghe said. “There was two LMP3 cars that crashed right in front of me. I was on the outside, so I kind of got stuck, fell back and almost got collected, so I was really happy to survive.”

He did more than survive. Liefooghe went right to work when the race went back to green following a 10-minute full-course caution period, picking off the cars in front of him, including Luca Mars, who won this morning’s race in the No. 59 KOHR MOTORSPORTS Ford Mustang GT4 but had to make an unscheduled trip to pit lane early in Race 2.

“Unfortunately, Lucas broke down,” Liefooghe said. “I’m not sure what happened to him. We were looking forward to a battle with him and see how we improved our car compared to his since this morning.”

Liefooghe would not be denied in Race 2, especially with Mars out of the picture. He drove away from the field after taking the lead, and took the checkered flag 22.712 seconds ahead of Sebastian Carazo, who finished second in the No. 27 Kellymoss with Riley Porsche 718 GT4 RS CS.

“It just seems like our car was really good on the high-speed stuff,” Liefooghe surmised. “(Turns) 17 and 1 was our strong suit. It felt like we were able to brake a lot deeper than the other competitors and we kind of squeaked by in those two spots on track.”

 

While Liefooghe and Carazo, who also finished third this morning, had podium finishes in both of the day’s races, they were greeted by a new face on the podium at the end of Race 2. Patrick Wilmot came home third in the No. 88 Split Decision Motorsports BMW.

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2023 DAYTONA 200: Josh Herrin Claws Back from Penalty to Snatch Victory

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Josh Herrin (center) celebrates his DAYTONA 200 win at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 11, 2023, 12 years after his last win. Josh Hayes won second place and Cameron Petersen won third. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.
Josh Herrin (center) celebrates his DAYTONA 200 win at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 11, 2023, 12 years after his last win. Josh Hayes won second place and Cameron Petersen won third. Photo: J. Willie David III/Florida National News.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FNN) – Josh Herrin rallied back from the 7th position in a ten-lap restart to defeat Josh Hayes by .070 seconds in the 81st running of the DAYTONA 200, the annual single-man motorcycle endurance race.

Josh Herrin started strong and held the lead for most of the race. Two racers crashed out early, but things didn’t really get disruptive until the race got down to less than 10 laps remaining.

The most notable crash of the race was Herrin’s contact with Richie Escalante, who had been keeping up with Herrin for the majority of the race. The contact sent Escalante sliding off the track–and out of the running–with just eight laps to go. Escalante attempted to lift the bike up to get back on it, but there was no chance remaining for him to get back in the race. Seeing his chance of victory lost, he slammed his gloves to the ground as he removed them.

The call of whether the contact was an intentional push or race incident was tricky because when played back in slow motion, the collision looks incidental since Escalante had leaned in a bit too far and then just barely lifted back up at the last second while Herrin went wide in the turn as he was sometimes doing throughout the race. However, when played back in real time, it looks like Herrin intentionally went wide to knock Escalante out. The collision went under review.

Despite the brief break after Escalante’s crash, Herrin regained the lead. With five laps remaining, Teagg Hobbs crashed into Jason Waters, causing a red flag. After the red flag period, Herrin got penalized for his collision with Escalante by dropping six positions to the number seven spot. Five laps were added, making it a 10-lap race for the restart.

Ultimately, Herrin was penalized six positions to start at seventh for the restart. Herrin confessed he wasn’t sure he could make it to the end, given the amount of pain he was in, but he heard the struggling conditions of several other racers, since they couldn’t switch out tires during the red flag period, and give it all he had.

“After 15 years of trying I finally got it right,” Herrin said. “This is by far my favorite event that I ever get to race. It’s the one race a year where we really see the teamwork that goes on.”

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Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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PHOTOS: 2023 DAYTONA Supercross: Eli Tomac Matches Richard Petty with Historic 7th Daytona Win

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Eli Tomac crosses the finish line, winning the DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway a record seventh time, matching Richard Petty's record Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.
Eli Tomac crosses the finish line, winning the DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway a record seventh time, matching Richard Petty's record Saturday, March 4, 2023. Webb took second place. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (FNN) – The DAYTONA Supercross brought double the thrills for motocross fans Saturday, always showcasing races for 250SX and 450SX class dirt bikes on motocross legend Rick Carmichael’s insane course.

 

The gates drop to start the 450SX main event race during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

The gates drop to start the 450SX main event race during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

This year’s DAYTONA SX was bound to make history in several ways:

-The potential for 450SX legend Eli Tomac, who broke Ricky Carmichael’s DAYTONA SX winning record last year with his sixth win, to match NASCAR legend Richard Petty’s record as the only other athlete to win seven events at the Daytona International Speedway.

-The potential for any one of six rookies–Haiden Deegan, Tom Vialle, Chance Hymas, Talon Hawkins, Caden Braswell, Josiah Natzke–to get their first Daytona victory.

 

 

The 250SX Winners

In the end, this year’s 250SX saw two international winners take the podium and saw: Aussie rider Hunter Lawrence took his first DAYTONA Supercross victory Saturday, with English rider Max Anstie following in second place and Haiden Deegan, who wasn’t quite sure about his supercross career, closed out the DAYTONA Supercross 250SX podium in third place.

 

The 450SX Winners

Eli Tomac speeds through the white sand portion of the Ricky Carmichael-designed DAYTONA Supercross course in the 450SX main event race at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Eli Tomac speeds through the white sand portion of the Ricky Carmichael-designed DAYTONA Supercross course in the 450SX main event race at the Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Florida rain, which began during the 250SX main event, intensified when the 450SX main event race began, making it that much more chaotic. Eli Tomac fought hard and early to steal the lead from Cooper Webb, who began in the lead. The two made contact twice, the first of which saw Tomac lose his footing a little, but he was able to regain the lead. The record is meaningful to Tomac not only for the record’s sake, but his practices didn’t end well–he came out fourth. He was fine the end of the very first 450SX heat, though: he finished first, giving him a bit of a break as the others continued to compete for their spots in the main event.

 

Eli Tomac (#1) gains on Cooper Webb to nab the lead during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Eli Tomac (#1) gains on Cooper Webb to nab the lead during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Cooper Webb won second place while Chase Sexton rounded out the 450SX podium in third place.

 

Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb shake hands after Tomac wins the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Webb took second place. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Eli Tomac and Cooper Webb shake hands after Tomac wins the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Webb took second place. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Chase Sexton crosses the 450SX finish line in third place during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

Chase Sexton crosses the 450SX finish line in third place during the 2023 DAYTONA Supercross at Daytona International Speedway Saturday, March 4, 2023. Photo: Harry Castiblanco/Florida National News.

 

Sexton and Justin “Bam Bam” Barcia traded hits several times throughout the race to attain or maintain dominance, but in the end, Barcia made a miscalculation close to the finish line that knocked him out of the running for top three, and Sexton quickly took his place to nab third.

________________________________________

Mellissa Thomas is Editor for Florida National News. | mellissa.thomas@floridanationalnews.com

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