Time ticking to TUDOR Championship titles

September 30, 2014

Time ticking to TUDOR Championship titles

September 30, 2014

GT_timeThe ultimate race clock strikes 12 at the 11th and final race of the 2014 TUDOR United SportsCar Championship as the GTLM manufacturers, teams and drivers fight for wins and season long titles here at the 10 Hours of Petit Le Mans.

The big factory teams from BMW Team RLL, Corvette Racing, Dodge Viper SRT, Porsche North America and premier independents; Risi Competizione Ferrari and Falken Porsche, all began the season with high expectations.

The world’s premier manufacturers put their brands, engineering and investments into developing technology and showcasing their performance to an enthusiastic target audience in the fierce GTLM competition.

Where the car manufacturers roam with top teams, engineers, drivers and support staffs, TUDOR Championship race wins and titles are expected, if not demanded and, unlike pre-school soccer teams, not everyone gets ice cream.

That explains in part why the GTLM season has been a wild roller coaster ride as four different teams have scored multiple wins with the championships still in hot dispute here at Road Atlanta.

The shiny new Porsche North America factory squad opened the season with victories at the Rolex 24 at Daytona (Nick Tandy, Richard Lietz) and the Twelve Hours of Sebring (Patrick Long, Michael Christensen).

Next came a powerful run as the factory #3 Corvette C7.R of Corvette Racing and 2013 GT Champions Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia rolled off four consecutive victories to surge to the top of the standings.

Act III saw the emergence of Jonathan Bomarito and Kuno Wittmer as they took their first big GT win aboard the #93 Dodge Viper SRT at Indianapolis.

Then, after a disastrous start to the season, the fabled Risi Competizione Ferrari, now with Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer, turned in an impressive win at Road America and backed it up with a dramatic last lap pass to win at VIR.

It was at VIR that the driver championship hopes of Lietz and Magnussen took a devastating hit in practice when both spun on fluid on the track. Lietz fractured his left arm causing him to miss both VIR and Circuit of The Americas (COTA). Magnussen suffered a concussion and sat out the VIR race, dropping out of his share of the championship lead.

Despite a dominant early performance by Porsche, with a third car added to bolster its manufacturer championship bid, it was Wittmer and Bomarito leading a Dodge Viper SRT 1-2 at COTA to further scramble the points.

Arriving at Road Atlanta for the final clicks of the clock, Bomarito and Wittmer, a pair of drivers who entered the season still seeking their first major GT class win, lead the driver championship by seven points over Garcia with their Dodge Viper SRT teammates Marc Goossens and Dominik Farnbacher another ten points back.

In the GTLM Manufacturer war, Porsche and Dodge Viper SRT are tied at 308 points while Chevrolet and BMW are also tied at 300 markers and still well within striking distance.

A possible spoiler is BMW Team RLL which has been quick, clean, consistent, well prepared, well driven and wholly unrewarded in 2014. The team has six podium finishes.

Actually, one GTLM championship has already been decided. With 10 victories in the first 10 races and 29 of 30 podium positions, Michelin has already claimed the GTLM Tire Manufacturer title in the only class offering open tire competition.

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