Acura Sweeps IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Titles
SEBRING, Fla: Acura was the big winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as the 2020 season came to a close Saturday night at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, winning all six major titles in the headline Daytona Prototype International and production-based GT Daytona classes.
Acura Team Penske
Acura’s second consecutive sweep of the DPi Manufacturers’, Drivers’ and Teams’ championships came with a second-place finish for the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagneaud.
Meanwhile, following an early race mechanical issue, their teammates in the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and endurance driver Alexander Rossi once again displayed incredible determination in battling back from a 12-lap deficit to finish eighth and claim the drivers’ and teams’ titles by a single championship point.
In typical Sebring fashion, the 12-hour endurance contest played out more like a sprint race, with action and suspense throughout the event. After starting from the pole, the #7 Acura with Taylor at the wheel lost turbocharger boost due to a component failure just 40 minutes into the race.
After going behind the wall for repairs, Taylor, Castroneves and Rossi resumed racing 12 laps behind the leaders, and raced hard into the night to cut the deficit by more than half. The resulting eighth-place finish crowned season-long drivers Taylor and Castroneves as champions, by a single point over the Wayne Taylor Racing pairing of Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande. The title was the second for Taylor, and the first for Castroneves to cap an incredible, 21-year career with Team Penske.
Taking over at the front of the race as their teammates repairs continued, the #6 ARX-05 began a long battle for the lead with the #10 Wayne Taylor and #31 Action Express Cadillacs, with other competitors waiting in the wings should anyone at the front falter.
That opportunity came as night fell in the closing hours. Contact from Pipo Derani in the #31 sent Montoya spinning in the #6 Acura, dropping Montoya to third and resulting in a “drive through” penalty to Derani for the causing the collision. The pair of Mazda prototypes seized their chance to take control, until a cut tire and unscheduled pit stop for the #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis enabled Cameron to seize second place in the final hour, securing the DPi sweep as Acura claimed the Manufacturers’ Championship by a single point over Cadillac.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo
In the production-based GTD category, Meyer Shank Racing prevailed in a typically rough-and-tumble contest to complete a dominating season in the Manufacturers’ Championship, with the Acura NSX GT3 Evo claiming the crown by an eight-point margin over nine other competing performance car OEM’s, include Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
In another typically gritty performance, the #86 MSR Acura of defending series champion Mario Farnbacher, Matt McMurry and Shinya Michimi used a third-place class finish to secure the drivers’ and team’s titles for full-season drivers Farnbacher and McMurry. This came despite contact from another competitor – for the fourth time the last five races – that set aside their hopes for a third GTD victory in 2020.
Still their season-long efforts – along with those of the partner trio of Joey Hand, Misha Goikhberg and Trent Hindman in the partner #57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Acura, was more than sufficient to secure the GTD Manufacturers’ Championship by a relatively comfortable eight-point margin to complete the sweep of all six season-long IMSA DPi and GTD titles for Acura.
Today’s race concluded the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Acura will return to defend its prototype and GTD titles in the 2021 season, which opens January 28-31 with the Rolex 24 at the famed Daytona International Speedway.