(June 18, 2017) DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Jordan Taylor was one lap from adding a 24 Hours of Le Mans victory to an incredible 2017 season that has seen him take five-consecutive wins in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, including the Rolex 24 At Daytona and Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring.
But then, disaster struck the No. 63 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C7.R. On the final lap, Taylor encountered a punctured right-rear tire, forcing him to surrender the lead – and the victory – in the GTE Pro class to Jonny Adam in the No. 97 Aston Martin. He limped the car home to take a third-place finish for himself and co-drivers Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia, behind the Aston and the UK-based No. 67 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT.
“The whole race, everyone was so close and so evenly matched and Antonio had a cut tire and had to come in,” Magnussen said. “That put us behind everybody and on a different strategy than everyone else. That also meant that we would not be catching the slow zones the same as everyone else and that really started to bite us.
“So, we fell further and further back. Until we got back on the same strategy as everyone else, it was an uphill fight. But the car was good and the team worked fantastic the whole time. Antonio and Jordan drove perfect throughout the whole race. When we perform like this as a team, it’s difficult not to be disappointed with the outcome. Podium at Le Mans is pretty decent, it’s just not what we came for.”
Meanwhile, in the GTE Am class, Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler earned their third straight Le Mans podium result with a third-place run in the No. 62 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GTE fielded by Scuderia Corsa that they shared with full-time WeatherTech Championship racer Cooper MacNeil. Bell and Sweedler won the GTE Am class last year, and finished third in 2015. Bell held the class lead early on and the car was a fixture in the GTE Am top five throughout.
For MacNeil, it was his second trip to the podium in 2017, following a WeatherTech Championship GT Daytona (GTD) class win in the BUBBA burger Sports Car Grand Prix at Long Beach alongside co-driver Gunnar Jeannette in the No. 50 WeatherTech Mercedes-AMG GT3.
“We ran a really clean race,” MacNeil said. “We had a couple of minor issues all race. I didn’t put a wheel wrong all race and that is how you have to run here at Le Mans. We gave it all we had. We ran to plan, did the stops and driver changes and ran our race. We kept it clean and the great work from the Scuderia Corsa and Kessel guys got us up on the podium. The WeatherTech Racing Ferrari ran great the entire 24 hours.”
Elsewhere, full-time WeatherTech Championship competitor and 2015 GT Le Mans (GTLM) champion Patrick Pilet earned a top-five result in the No. 91 Porsche GT Team Porsche 911 RSR he co-drove with Frederic Makowiecki and Richard Lietz.
The overall race victory in the topsy-turvy race went to the No. 2 Porsche 919 Hybrid co-driven by Earl Bamber, Timo Bernhard and Brendon Hartley. It was a war of attrition in the LM P1 class, and the winning car battled back to win after spending more than an hour in the garage for repairs after Bamber lost front axle drive with 18-and-a-half hours remaining.
The LM P2 class victory went to the No. 38 Jackie Chan DC Racing ORECA-Gibson shared by Ho-Pin Tung, Thomas Laurent and Oliver Jarvis. The No. 38 team finished second overall, one spot ahead of another LM P2 car, the No. 13 Vaillante Rebellion ORECA co-driven by Nelson Piquet Jr., David Heinemeier Hansson and Mathias Beche.
Next up for the WeatherTech Championship is the Sahlen’s Six Hours of The Glen on Sunday, July 2. It marks the halfway point in the 12-race WeatherTech Championship season, and also represents the third round of four in the Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup.