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Three Takeaways from FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix

Opportunity Knocks for Paul Miller Racing; Pfaff Marches on; Lime Rock’s Ideal Setting

By David Phillips

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The first of two 2022 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT race weekends is in the books and – as ever – iconic, bucolic Lime Rock Park proved to be an ideal palette for the very best in sports car racing. The Grand Touring Daytona (GTD) and GTD PRO competitors put on an entertaining show in the FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix with just 0.690 seconds and 4.078 seconds covering the top three finishers in each class, respectively, 11 cars finishing on the lead lap and new lap records established in both GTD and GTD PRO.

OK, this was GTD PRO’s inaugural appearance at the venerable Connecticut circuit, so the fastest lap of the race was bound to be a new track record. But the point is, the competition was close and exciting, with the GTD win decided on the final turn of the final lap of the race.

Class of the Sprint Cup

Speaking of the GTD win, thanks to their opportunistic victory at Lime Rock Park, Paul Miller Racing, BMW and co-drivers Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow enjoy commanding leads in the IMSA WeatherTech Sprint Cup team, manufacturer and driver standings. It’s an impressive achievement, given that the team changed horses prior to the start of the 2022 season, switching to BMW after a lengthy and successful association with Lamborghini, one that saw PMR finish runner-up in last year’s WeatherTech Championship and Sprint Cup after capturing the 2020 Michelin Endurance Cup and the 2018 WeatherTech Championship.

PMR got off to a slow start this season, missing the season opener at Daytona and finishing a disappointing 16th in their debut with BMW at Sebring. But they found their legs with a win on the streets of Long Beach and have since gone on a tear, finishing fourth at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, on the podium at Mid-Ohio and Detroit, and coming home fifth at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park a fortnight ago. While their difficult start to the 2022 campaign put them behind the proverbial eight ball in the WeatherTech Championship, with a 212-point cushion over Roman De Angelis and the No. 27 Heart of Racing Team Aston Martin Vantage GT3, Sellers, Snow, PMR and BMW appear well on their way to the 2022 Sprint Cup titles.

Class of the Class

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Meanwhile in GTD PRO, Pfaff Motorsports and Porsche, Matt Campbell and Mathieu Jaminet proved to be the class of the class – again. After capturing the team’s third Motul Pole Award this season, Campbell jumped to the early race lead, only to drop behind the No. 14 Vasser Sullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Jack Hawksworth on the first round of pit stops. Campbell duly passed Hawksworth just past the midway stage of the race, then handed over the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3 R to Jaminet, who was set to cruise to the win before a late full-course yellow made it interesting … at least until the Frenchman got a great restart to secure Pfaff’s fourth win of the campaign.

When you consider that the Heart of Racing’s No. 23 Aston Martin Vantage GT3 is the only other car in GTD PRO to have won more than once this year, that Pfaff’s plaid Porsche has only finished off the podium twice and its lone DNF resulted from a fluke pit road incident at Long Beach, it’s no surprise Campbell and Jaminet, Pfaff and Porsche are in control of the GTD PRO points races.

Different Strokes for Different Folks

The FCP Euro Northeast Grand Prix was yet more confirmation of the successful ability of IMSA to tailor its “product” to a veritable cornucopia of racing environments across North America.

Have a jumbo arena like Daytona International Speedway, Sebring International Raceway, Watkins Glen International, Road America or Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta? IMSA has the perfect show for you, one featuring a full slate of prototypes and GT classes, along with the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, IMSA Prototype Challenge and single-make series.

Have a slightly smaller arena like WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course or Canadian Tire Motorsport Park? IMSA has the perfect show for you, one featuring a slightly less complete “mix” of prototypes, GT classes and support series.

Have a tight street circuit like Long Beach or Detroit? IMSA can handle that, with a limited number of prototypes and GT classes.

Got a bullring like Lime Rock? That’s an ideal showcase for IMSA’s GT classes and the Michelin Pilot Challenge. How about VIRginia International Raceway, the model for state-of-the-art motorsports country clubs? Another perfect showcase for the GT classes and the Michelin Pilot Challenge with the added spice of the Prototype Challenge and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series set for the weekend of Aug. 26-28.

But first comes The IMSA Fastlane SportsCar Weekend, where a full slate of WeatherTech Championship classes will reconvene with Michelin Pilot Challenge, Porsche Carrera Cup North America and Lamborghini Super Trofeo competitors at Road America from Aug. 4-7.