TUDOR United SportsCar Championship hits the streets of Belle Isle
The TUDOR United SportsCar Championship hits the streets of Detroit’s Belle Isle Park for this weekend’s Chevrolet Sports Car Classic (Saturday, 1:30 p.m. ET, FOX Sports 1).
Following split Prototype/GT Le Mans and Prototype Challenge/GT Daytona races at the most recent round at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca, Saturday’s solo 100-minute sprint race will feature Prototype and GT Daytona competitors only, for the first time.
Eleven of the 32 entries are in the Prototype (P) class, led by Action Express Racing’s Christian Fittipaldi and Joao Barbosa. The Corvette DP duo saw their championship lead reduced to three points over Chip Ganassi Racing’s Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas in Monterey.
Both teams have visited victory lane this year — Barbosa and Fittipaldi taking the win in season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona and the Ford EcoBoost-powered Ganassi pairing in the following two rounds at Sebring and Long Beach.
While yet to win this season, brothers Ricky and Jordan Taylor head into the 2.35-mile street course as one of the favorites in their Konica Minolta-sponsored Wayne Taylor Racing Corvette DP. Jordan is a two-time and defending class winner, having teamed with Max Angelelli for overall victory one year ago.
As seen in Long Beach, the DPs are likely to hold an upper hand this weekend, but that shouldn’t count out the pair of Extreme Speed Motorsports HPD ARX-03bs, or OAK Racing’s Morgan-Nissan from being in the mix.
Johannes van Overbeek and Ed Brown are fresh off a breakthrough first win in Monterey, while ESM’s No. 1 entry of Scott Sharp and Ryan Dalziel showed strong pace at Long Beach before running out of fuel late in the race.
Le Mans-based OAK Racing sees the return of Olivier Pla, who will again share the No. 42 entry with Gustavo Yacaman, who won at Belle Isle in Indy Lights but was the subject of a controversial incident here in last year’s Rolex Series race.
A total of 21 GTD cars are set to take part in their first, and only, street race of the year.
Andy Lally and John Potter are now tied for the lead of the championship with the AIM Autosport pairing of Townsend Bell and Bill Sweedler, thanks to the Magnus Racing duo’s podium in a dramatic outing in Monterey.
The No. 45 Flying Lizard Motorsports Audi R8 LMS of Spencer Pumepelly appeared to be en route to victory but ran out of fuel on the final lap, relegating he and Nelson Canache to a sixth place finish.
It gave the win to Turner Motorsport’s Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala, the Finn’s first-ever victory in North America. The duo, piloting the No. 94 BMW Z4 GT3, are among the favorites for top honors again.
In addition to the Paul Miller Racing Audi, which scored its first podium finish in more than three years at Mazda Raceway, other contenders this weekend include the No. 22 Alex Job Racing Porsche and No. 33 SRT Motorsports Viper, which has suffered bad luck through the opening three rounds.
Patrick Dempsey will be missing his first TUDOR Championship round, as the actor/racer, along with team co-principal Joe Foster, takes part in this weekend’s Le Mans Test Day in preparation for the 24-hour classic on June 14-15.
Brett Sandberg will fill in for Dempsey in the No. 27 Porsche, while British Porsche Supercup driver Ben Barker takes the place of Michael Avenetti in the No. 81 GB Autosport entry this weekend, due to business commitments for the GB team principal.
The No. 64 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari, meanwhile, will see Kyle Marcelli being joined by 2013 PC runner-up Chris Cumming, who is taking advantage of the off-weekend for the spec prototypes, which will return to action next month in Kansas.
Practice for the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic gets underway Friday, with the race scheduled to take the green Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET. Catch all the action on FOX Sports 1 beginning at 1:30 p.m. ET.