Dempsey Del Piero Racing had its best weekend yet in just the team’s third race with its pair of Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT3s Saturday in the American Le Mans Monterey, where team owner/driver Patrick Dempsey joined Andy Lally for the team’s first podium result and teammates Michael Avenatti and Andrew Davis finished a season-best sixth.
Both led during the four-hour and the No. 27 Tully’s Coffee Porsche 911 GT3 team nearly pulled of the GTC-class victory. Shaking off some early race issues and penalties, Lally moved into the lead in the race’s final hour and appeared set for the win before the race’s final full-course caution period just 10 minutes from the finish.
Lally found himself just in front of the No. 30 Porsche of Nick Tandy, with only a Corvette GT car between the Porsche GT3s for what ended up being a one-lap dash to the finish when the green flag flew.
“It was a heartbreaker,” Lally said. “Tandy got a run and somehow got under the GT Corvette before we even got on to the front straight. That put him on my rear bumper and he did a good job there. As we were going into Turn 4 I saw him pop to the inside. This was the confusing part for me because I did not realize a prototype in my blind spot coming off of his right rear made it three wide.
“As I turned in, prepared to be two-wide with the 30, he backed out and the PC car came just barreling up the inside and it just punted me into the marbles. That moved me back to second and that was it, but I have to hand it to Tandy, he did a good job.”
Dempsey was encouraged with the team’s first podium finish.
“I am really excited about the team and I really feel we can win now,” Dempsey said. “It is the first time ever for me racing that I know that I can win a race. To be out there running around with everybody today and coming back from the deficit we were in, there is no question that we can win races and a championship.
“That is the first time that I have felt that.”
Marino Franchitti and Scott Tucker led a 1-2 finish for Level 5 Motorsports, the team’s second such result of the season. Their No. 551 Siemens/Alpina Watches/Ohiya Casino Resort HPD ARX-03b was 5.578 seconds ahead of the No. 552 sister car, which Tucker drove with Ryan Briscoe.
Franchitti moved into first place at the two-and-a-half hour mark for his second win of the season with Tucker. The two won with Ryan Briscoe at Sebring and avenged a 1-2 class finish by Extreme Speed Motorsports at Long Beach.
“It was a perfect weekend and a great way for Level 5 to bounce back after Long Beach,” Franchitti said. “This is what we needed going into Le Mans”
ESM’s No. 01 Tequila Patrón HPD ARX-03b of Guy Cosmo and Scott Sharp finished third after two early stops to change flat tires, the last of which occurred while the car was leading.
PR1/Mathiasen Motorsports won for the second time in three races in Prototype Challenge presented by Continental Tire. Luis Diaz got around CORE autosport’s Colin Braun on the final restart in the No. 52 Molecule ORECA FLM09 he shared with Michael Guasch.
Braun took the lead near the two-hour, 15-minute mark and led until the restart in the No. 05 Composite Resources ORECA. Guasch led the PC portion in the event’s opening half but had a tense moment when he collided with a GT car near the end of his stint. The car continued undamaged, and Diaz drove the final two-and-a-half hours.
“Our pace was not as quick as Colin’s but I tried to drive really hard in traffic, keeping the pressure on,” Diaz said. “Finally, on the restart, he had the big mistake and we took the lead. Now we are stretching the lead for the championship and we’ll have time to work hard on the car until (the next round at) Lime Rock.”
Guasch won the opening ALMS round at Sebring with David Cheng and David Ostella. The PR1/Mathiasen entry also finished second in Long Beach last month and is off to its strongest start since joining the series in 2010.
“I knew we could do well here, but we just didn’t get the setup for qualifying,” Guasch said. “I tangled with a Ferrari in Turn 10, but we both got back in, and I brought it back in with the lead under yellow. And Luis did a great job keeping pressure on Colin, even under yellow.”
Tristan Nunez and Charlie Shears placed third in PC driving Performance Tech Motorsports’ No. 18 VisitFlorida.com/Ric Man/Signature MSAP entry.