Recovering from the bizarre and unlucky lug nut incident at Long Beach, Pfaff Motorsports dominated GTD Pro at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Mathieu Jaminet put the No. 9 Porsche 911 GT3R on the pole and was never really challenged during the race, and he and Matt Campbell cruised to a 31-second victory over the No. 14 VasserSullivan Lexus RC F GT3 of Ben Barnicoat and Jack Hawksworth. Connor De Phillippi and John Edwards finished third in the BMW M Team RLL BMW M4 GT3, the team’s first podium with the new car.
“I think it was just flawless job by everyone involved in a team — flawless pit stops, great strategy and obviously Mathieu had a great start as well,” said Campbell. “I might have looked extra better just due to what was happening in the last stint when we were able to pull such a big gap, but they were just battling so hard. This track is just all about tire management and when you’re out front, no traffic, you can manage traffic easily. It’s just so easy to drive to tire condition and manage your tire life, so for sure that helped a lot today.”
Daniel Juncadella had been quite strong all day in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Mercedes-AMG he shared with Cooper MacNeil, but a bad pit stop left them out of contention. He had to settle for fast lap and a new track record.
In contrast to GTD Pro, GTD was a battle all race long. Robby Foley seized the lead at the start in the No. 96 Turner Motorsports BMW M4 GT3. He lost the lead briefly to Madison Snow in the No. 1 Paul Miller Racing BMW during the first round of pit stops, but passed him again before the end of the stint, handing the car to Bill Auberlen in the lead. But toward the end, the BMW was clearly fading, with Jeff Westphal in the No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 he had taken over from Robert Megennis catching him.
“The front tires just completely left the building,” Auberlen explained. “So I couldn’t even turn the car anymore. You know, we’re so new to the M4 that we don’t know what it wants. The longest runs we did here were 10 laps, so we didn’t know what it wanted in in a 45-lap run. So we embark on this journey that was the longest run at the end and the last 15 laps were brutal.”
Heylen came on strong late to take the GTD win in Wright Motorsports’ Porsche 911 GT3R. Jake Galstad/Lumen
But it wasn’t Westphal that passed Auberlen for the lead, it was Jan Heylen in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche. Ryan Hardwick had had a tough qualifying in the car, and started 11th. But he moved up a couple of positions, the crew gave them a couple more, and Heylen drove through the rest to get to the front.
“I think that it was a little bit on strategy of when we decided to do the driver change from me to Jan,” said Hardwick. “It had to do with that yellow there in the middle — I came in with the rest of the crew, but it wasn’t enough drive time. Then we gained a lot of track position, we were up in the top three or four, but we decided to come right back in to switch to Jan once I completed drive time. Getting that extra little bit of fuel there also helped us make it a little shorter stop on our final stop. We got a little lucky with that yellow, but we made the most of it.”
For a while it looked like Auberlen was going to be able to hold off Westphal, but Westphal finally got him on the penultimate lap before the Lamborghini began to sputter on fuel. Auberlen made a run, but Westphal was 0.037s ahead at the checker.