Starworks Motorsport Shines At Laguna Seca
MONTEREY, Calif. – Sunday’s TUDOR United SportsCar Championship doubleheader at the Continental Tire Monterey Grand Prix presented by Mazda featured a dominating victory in the Prototype Challenge (PC) class by Starworks Motorsport.
In the race combining the PC and GT Daytona classes at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Renger van der Zande brought Starworks’ No. 8 ORECA FLM09 home 12.234 seconds in front of the second-place No. 25 8Star Motorsports ORECA FLM09 of Sean Rayhall.
Rayhall had gotten reasonably close to van der Zande, but spun in Turn 10 with 11 minutes remaining.
“To get close is one thing … to get past is another thing,” said van der Zande, who co-drove with German Mirco Schultis. “If you know that you can control the race. Leading the race is the best thing you can have (going for you). Take the risk and control the traffic.”
Van der Zande, from the Netherlands, downplayed Rayhall’s late-race charge that cut a sizable advantage to merely a few seconds, saying, “I was just conserving on everything at that point … early lifting … taking it easy on the tires.”
Schultis started the No. 8 and ran 41 minutes, surviving an early-race incident in Turn 8 with the No. 54 CORE autosport entry of Jon Bennett, who co-leads the championship standings with co-driver Colin Braun.
“I thought that was the end,” Schultis said, “Somehow I got out of the dirt and on the track and somehow it was still running.”
Was it ever. Van der Zande would grab the lead with 23 minutes remaining, when the pole-sitting No. 09 entry driven by Bruno Junqueira of RSR Racing pitted for tires and fuel. Aside from Rayhall’s temporary challenge, it was routine from there.
Junqueira and co-driver Duncan Ende finished third.
“Getting the win is always nice, huh?” said van der Zande. “At Daytona and Sebring we had some troubles with the cars and here it was just a flawless weekend.”
A would-be race for second wound up being the battle for the win in the GT Daytona class, after the class-leading Audi R8 LMS of Spencer Pumpelly ran out of fuel coming out of the famed corkscrew turn on the final lap of Sunday’s two-hour race.
Pumpelly’s misfortune played right into the hands of Dane Cameron in the No. 94 Turner Motorsport BMW Z4 started by Markus Palttala. Cameron held off a hard-charging Christopher Haase in the final corner to pick up the win.
Meanwhile, Pumpelly stopped approximately 100 yards short of the start-finish line for a heartbreaking sixth-place finish.
“If they were going to finish or not was outside of our control,” Cameron said of trying to catch Pumpelly, who held an 11-second lead at the white flag. “He was too far ahead to catch him on pace so my only concern was to maintain the position and make sure there was no way the Audi was going to get around us.”
Cameron was able to do just that, beating Haase’s No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Audi R8 LMS started by Bryce Miller to the stripe by 0.168 seconds.