Jarvis qualified the #77 Mazda in a strong third place, just a couple of tenths of a second behind the pace-setting Penske cars, with Bomarito starting in sixth in the #55. However when the green flag waved, Bomarito made a strong move to slot in behind the sister car, threading the needle between two of the Cadillacs in turn two and snatching an impressive fourth place.
With the Penske cars pulling away, it was vital that the first pit stops for the Mazdas were perfect. The team delivered, gaining back half the deficit through perfect execution and taking advantage of the undercut.
Forty minutes into the race, the Mazdas were still running within striking distance of the leaders, with the #77 car leading the chase. The abnormal autumn staging of the race provided little respite from the Californian heat, but Jarvis and Bomarito stayed onboard for a second stint, slugging it out until it was time for Nunez and Tincknell to take over at the halfway mark.
The Mazdas continued the charge, again gaining time in the pits but now the competition had caught on to the advantage of the undercut and so Multimatic pushed further on fuel to take advantage of a potential short fill at the end. A late race yellow bunched up the DPi field with just 20 minutes of the race remaining, with Tincknell fourth and Nunez fifth.
“We had been having a great intra team battle so when everyone got bunched together at the end it was a great opportunity for us to try to get on the podium,” said Tincknell. “I was running in fourth, behind the two Penske cars and the #31 Cadillac. I had used up some of my tyres battling with Tristan (Nunez) but the biggest problem I had was the dirty air. It’s hard to pass at Laguna and as soon as I got close to the #31 I lost aero and it was like driving on ice so it was impossible to make a proper move.
“It’s a shame we couldn’t make the podium as that’s what the team deserves but we showed better in qualifying, with the #77 taking third place. We had an issue on the #55 during qualifying so our time wasn’t representative of what we could do. I think we’re back on an upward curve so we’re all excited to get to Sebring now for the big finale!”
The final race of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is the Sebring 12 Hour, which takes place in just two weeks’ time on November 14th.
YOUNG GUNS GO FOR IT AT LAGUNA SECA
Sebastian Priaulx and Hailie Deegan both made their WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca debut at Round Nine of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. The Multimatic “Young Guns”, both still teenagers, took on the challenge of learning the famous and highly-challenging track and pushed hard throughout the weekend.
Deegan took the start of the two-hour race in 11th position in the #22 Ford Mustang GT4. She made a great start but progress was difficult due the first hour of the race being dominated by yellow flag periods. Priaulx took the wheel just after the half-way mark and brought the Mustang home in 11th position. Although frustrated with the result, the British driver was happy to tick Laguna Seca off his bucket list.
“I immediately fell in love with Laguna Seca and thoroughly enjoyed learning the circuit,” said Priaulx. “Unfortunately, it was just a tricky week for us. Our practice pace was promising, but when it came to the racing we didn’t quite have that edge of speed to move up the order. I pushed as hard as I could in my stint and was pleased to bring the car home for another strong finish.”