The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship heads to Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., with two of its four classes for the annual running of the Northeast Grand Prix on Saturday, July 22. Unlike past years when Prototype Challenge was included, this year's event will host the series two GT classes, GT Le Mans (GTLM) and GT Daytona (GTD).
As with most Lime Rock events, the race is run on Saturday because of local restrictions that prohibit noise and crowds at the 1.5 mile circuit on Sundays. That issue is probably fine with the teams as this will be the third race in four weeks for the GTLM and GTD classes.
The all GT field will be headed by the GTLM teams. BMW Team RLL brings its hot streak with Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims to Lime Rock. The team will be looking for their third consecutive win in the No.25 BMW M6 GTLM. The team’s other car, No. 24 entry of John Edwards and Martin Tomczyk is no slouch finishing second at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park to make it a 1-2 sweep for BMW. Edwards and Tomczyk will be looking to break into the win column after a couple of podiums appearances in the last three races.
Corvette Racing will be burning the midnight oil fixing the badly damaged No.4 Corvette C7.R. after a big time accident at CTMP. Tommy Milner and Oliver Gavin return as defending race winners in the No.4. Teammates Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen hold onto a narrow three-point lead going to into the Lime Rock weekend in the team’s No.3 machine.
Ford Chip Ganassi Racing enters the weekend with the No.66 and No.67 Ford GTs sitting third and fourth respectively in the series standings while battling through Balance of Performance restrictions and will be looking to end BMW's win streak. The Porsche GT Team has steadily improved over the season and is looking to break its streak of bad luck for its first win of the season with their Porsche 911 RSRs.
In the GTD class, the points leading No.63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen are still looking for their first win of the season after recording six straight podium finishes without standing on the top step of the podium. The duo holds an eight-point lead, 203-195, over the No.33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes-AMG GT3 of Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating.
3GT Racing with their two Lexus RCF GT3 will be looking to catch a break. Crashes and problems in the pits have plagued the team's strong practice and qualifying performances over the past couple of events. Paul Miller Racing and their No.48 Lamborghini have also shown speed but have also had their share of bad luck. Drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow should be a top contender at Lime Rock.
Michael Shank Racing w/Curb-Agajanian are aiming to return to victory lane with their Acuras as will be the last race class winners Lawson Aschenbach and Andrew Davis in the Stevenson Motorsports Audi.
In other GTD news Alex Job Racing's No.23 Audi R8 LMS GT3 and drivers Bill Sweedler and Townsend Bell make their first none Tequila Patrón North American Endurance Cup race this season. Jesse Krohn has been added to the lineup of Turner Motorsport’s No.96 BMW M6 GT3, along with Jens Klingmann. James Davison and Brandon Davis in TRG’s No.007 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 make their first GTD appearance of the year.
Practice for the Northeast Grand Prix kicks off on Friday, July 21 at 12:05 p.m. ET, followed by another hour-long practice session at 2:25 p.m. and qualifying at 5:15 p.m. Also on Friday is a pair of practice sessions for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge and IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda. The Continental Tire Challenge qualifies on Friday at 3:40 p.m. ahead of Saturday’s race scheduled for 10:25 a.m. The lone Prototype Challenge race will take place on Saturday at 12:45 p.m.
The Northeast Grand Prix will be broadcast live flag-to-flag on Saturday, July 22 on FS2 starting at 3 p.m. ET, as well as on the FOX Sports GO app with FS2 authentication. Audio commentary also will be available on IMSA Radio via www.IMSA.com, www.RadioLeMans.com and SiriusXM Radio.WeatherTech Championship qualifying and all of the weekend’s races at Lime Rock Park will be streamed live on www.IMSA.com with IMSA Radio commentary.
Tickets for the Northeast Grand Prix are available now at www.LimeRock.com.
Photo by Blake Blakely
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