Pfaff Motorsports Porsche, Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini and Heart of Racing Aston Martin Will Decide Champion at Motul Petit Le Mans
By Godwin Kelly
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Expect to see the ultimate cat-and-mouse game in a GT Daytona (GTD) showdown during the season finale of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
The Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Nov. 13 promises to be a nail-biter for the points-leading No. 9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3R and No. 1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracán GT3.
Only 50 points – the difference between a first- and third-place race finish – separate class leaders Laurens Vanthoor and Zacharie Robichon of Pfaff from second-place Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow at PMR. The No. 9 Porsche will add Lars Kern to its roster for the 10-hour race, while Sellers and Snow will get an assist from Corey Lewis.
And if you really work the calculator, Roman De Angelis and Ross Gunn, who drive the No. 23 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3, are very much in the hunt as well in the WeatherTech Championship’s most populous class. They’re currently 177 points behind the Pfaff duo.
“I can’t think of a better two teams to be competing against,” Pfaff general manager Steve Bortolotti said. “They are certainly the gold standard of teams in IMSA. It’s going to be interesting.
“All three cars are competitive from a Balance of Performance standpoint,” Bortolotti added. “IMSA has done a great job of giving all three manufacturers a feeling like they are going to be competitive at Atlanta. It’s going to be a dogfight all the way to the end.”
Making it more interesting, Pfaff Motorsports is in the middle of moving into a bigger race shop, which is under renovation and inaccessible to the team. Yes, IMSA’s top GTD team and the popular “Plaid Porsche” have no place to call home right now.
“We have a lot going on trying to get settled into our new permanent home in the Toronto area,” Bortolotti said. “We are working out of our hauler like we are at the track right now. Our mechanics are hard at work preparing the car.”
When Pfaff arrives at Michelin Raceway, it will have a target on its back. The Paul Miller team – with headquarters much closer to Michelin Raceway in nearby Buford, Georgia – comes in highly motivated to steal the title.
“The only chance we have to move forward is to take risks and go for a win,” said Sellers, a resident of the Atlanta area. “They’ve had an incredibly strong season and put up a lot of points. For us, it’s an uphill battle. In some ways it does put us in an enviable position because we have one focus only – winning. Any team, in any class, which is mathematically alive, is going to try and win.”
Which is why you can add the No. 23 Aston Martin into the mix. Just use the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 as a cautionary tale to show how quickly things can change for better or worse.
No. 96 co-drivers Robby Foley and Bill Auberlen were leading the GTD points after finishing fourth at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca in early September, but back-to-back results outside the top 10 since took them out of championship contention.
So, there is a ray of hope for the Aston Martin effort. Team principal Ian James said his drivers are coming into this ring of competition with gloves on, mouthpiece in.
“We have to turn up and execute and try to get maximum points in qualifying, then just run our race,” James said. “It’s out of our control because if the other guys finish up in order, then we’re done with it. We are going to do the best we can.”
Not surprisingly, Pfaff Motorsports is entering the grueling, 10-hour event with that exact same push-forward mindset.
“We are approaching this as we have to beat those other two cars in the race,” Bortolotti said. “That’s our goal going in. Fifty points under the new points structure at IMSA is next to nothing.”
WeatherTech Championship action at Michelin Raceway begins with practice on Thursday, Nov. 11. Qualifying takes place the following day. The start of the race on the 2.54-mile, 12-turn road course airs live on NBC at noon ET Saturday, Nov 13, with coverage moving to NBCSN at 3 p.m. and running through the conclusion shortly after 10 p.m. Flag-to-flag coverage also streams on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports App, as well as IMSA Radio.
Tickets for Motul Petit Le Mans are available now from RoadAtlanta.com.