SportsCar Championship
Torque Freak claims GTD victory at Laguna Seca
Earning their first VSCA win in nearly a year, Torque Freak Racing's No. 6 Lamborghini scores a big win at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca
May 7, 202310:16 PM GMT 219 Views
Photo: © 2023 VSCAracing.com / Benjamin Fischer

British-American drivers duo Neil Middleton and Jonathan Dance earned the team’s first win since last year’s 6 Hours of the Glen at Watkins Glen.

For the No. 6 Lamborghini Hurácan GT3 it was also the third consecutive top-ten finish in the 2023 VSCA SportsCar Championship season to date, Daytona being the lone race the entry failed to crack the mark.

Middleton started the race ninth on the GTD class grid and came down pit road on lap 22 during what turned out to be the only full course yellow of the race - a move that proved to be the perfect strategy, putting the team in position to take the win.

"It's really good to coming back after the season start we've had, we needed a good result.", said Neil Middleton.

"Strategy-wise, I think we just lean on experience and having a good understanding of where the race is. We always have a couple of ideas and try to pick the most likely scenario. I'd love to say we have a secret sauce but if we do I don't know what it is."

VR7UAL Pole sitters and long-time leaders Firestorm Motorsport and their No. 29 Porsche 911 GT3 R challenged for the win in the Monterey Sports Car Challenge and had a very strong car to show for it.

The No. 29 Firestorm Motorsport Porsche was dominant at Laguna Seca, earning the VR7UAl Pole and leading a race-high 52 laps, but saw their hopes for their first win crumble after this crash on lap 76 going into turn one - © 2023 VSCAracing.com / Benjamin Fischer

However, as so many times, racing also needs a little bit of luck. On lap 76, luck ran out for the team from Jacksonville, Florida and driver John T Jones when going into turn one contact occurred with the No. 511 Dallara P217 LMP2 of Twisty Bits Racing and Steven McLendon.

The contact sent Jones’ car into a spin, after losing invaluable grip in the sandy dust that is one so vintage for the track in the Californian desert.

Jones came down pit road at the end of the same lap, surrendering the lead to the No. 6 Lamborghini and even though the team battled hard, including a last-lap crash with GTD championship leaders No. 67 Porsche of Kinetic Racing, it wasn’t meant to be in the end and they had to settle for ninth place.

"We felt pretty confident coming here, to be honest with you, because we had such good pace here last year.", said Firestorm Motorsport manager Daniel Avery.

"The first incident, well, we were just kind of glad we didn’t take on severe damage and could continue to push. After we chased down Kinetic and passed them on the last lap, that put us in position for a podium, which felt great for a split second. We thought finally luck has turned our way a little, but to almost instantly crash out while trying to defend was nothing less than heart breaking for us, really.", Avery added.

Speaking of Kinetic Racing - the three-time race winners this season took fourth place in the end - a good points pay day, despite falling short of the winner’s circle for the first time this year with team veteran driver Aedan Campbell absent and being replaced by Nicholas Sceats for this race.

Champion Motorsports and the No. 78 BMW M4 GT3 team were runners-up in the race, just shy of 16 seconds behind the race winners. Marc Johnson and Marc Nistor earned the highest points payout of any GTD class entry in the race, by way of earning the most clean racing bonus points.

The No. 9 BMW of Grizzly Motorsports with drivers David Baker and Nicholas Davis followed in third place and enjoyed a nice bounce back from a tough outing at Long Beach, to earn the entry’s first top-five finish of the 2023 season.

Earning their best-ever VSCA finish, the No. 78 Champion Motorsports BMW M4 GT3 with drivers Marc Johnson and Marc Nistor were runners-up at Laguna Seca - © 2023 VSCAracing.com / Benjamin Fischer

Rounding out the top-five was the No. 85 Porsche 911 GT3 R of Fischer Motorsport with Stephen Nobes and Will Robertson.

Full Send Racing’s No. 94 BMW with David Sluiter and Carl Felver finished P6 while championship contenders, the No. 393 Mercedes AMG GT3 of MAD Sim Racing took seventh place. For Patrick Fogel and Daniel Keane it was a rather unusual sight at Laguna Seca, failing to lead a single lap for the first time this season.

The No. 16 Dangler Performance Mercedes of Theo Taylor and Jim McGill took eighth place while the No. 974 Ferrari 488 GT3 of Nerd Herd Racing rounded out the top ten finishers with drivers Aaron Beaver and Ryan Steinhoff sharing driver duties and earning the team’s second consecutive and third overall top-ten finish this season.

In the GTD championship Kinetic Racing continues to lead the way, but Torque Freak Racing has moved into second position by way of their win at WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca.

Champion Motorsports also benefited from a strong race and their runners-up finish to move into third place, 139 points back, tied on points with Torque Freak, but getting third by way of having no wins so far.

MAD Sim Racing remain in fourth place with no change, 178 points behind while Screeching Moose Motorsports completes the top-five in the championship.

The VSCA SportsCar Championship next travels to Canadian Tire Motorsport Park for the VR7UAL Sports Car Challenge on May 20th. The event marks the first championship round this season to be broadcast live on Apex Racing TV.

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