Las Vegas, Nevada (22 October 2019) – When the lights at Las Vegas Motor Speedway were clicked off following a thrilling double-header Blancpain World Challenge event this weekend, it was time for some champagne and celebration as Panoz Racing took the Pro drivers championship in the SRO America season finale.
The title was just one of several that teams deploying the AERO advantage week in and week out have earned during the 2019 season, converting the strong, lightweight, and highly efficient paint technology into speed and new trophies.
For the second year running, AERO™ Sustainable Paint Technology, team Panoz claimed both the driver and team titles in the 2019 Pirelli GT4 America Sprint championship. Ian James won race one and came home fourth in race two on his way to locking up the Pro championship in Las Vegas, while the Panoz Racing GT4 SprintX Am class duo of Preston Calvert and Matt Keegan netted the 2019 class championship honors.
The team, founded by the late Dr. Don Panoz, has been racing in tribute to the visionary sportsman and with a distinctive AERO livery in 2019 to celebrate his contributions to the sport.
James, who moved into the role of Team Manager for Panoz Racing in addition to his duties behind the wheel, was thrilled to emerge from the weekend on top after overcoming an 8.5 point deficit ahead of the weekend.
“Obviously this year was in honor of Don after his passing away last year,” said James. “It was a lot of responsibility on my shoulders. The team has worked so hard. I’m so elated for them and I’m so elated for the Panoz family that made this happen. To have both cars win their championships, it means so much. It’s just a testament to the hard work and groundwork that was put in.”
The winning close to the World Challenge weekend echoed the championship-laden finish to the IMSA season the week before for AERO™ Sustainable Paint Technology squads at the 22nd annual Petit Le Mans event at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. AERO yet again had a large presence across the board of series competing during the three day event weekend.
The first of many races kicked off with the IMSA Prototype Challenge which saw a 65-lap sprint to the checkered on Friday. K2R Motorsports driver Matt Bell tackled the 2.54-mile course with ease as he drove his No. 64 Ligier JS P3 to the podium. The AERO liveried LMP3 machine made it second appearance on the podium this season having also scored a third place finish at Sebring International Raceway with Bell and American teammate Jim McGuire.
“We have the best looking car, and the best livery on the grid,” said Bell from the Road America podium. “The fans are able to get fantastic photos from anywhere in the crowd. It was a hard, hard race. Our optimum strategy was a full green race but it turned out to be the opposite. We ran with a low aero configuration to try and stay toe to toe with everyone else. We struggled on restarts so we were always under fire. With six restarts, it was our strategy’s worst nightmare! But to come home with a podium at the end of the season, isn’t so bad!”
The next event of the weekend saw the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge take the final green flag of the season on Friday afternoon. Leading the championship heading to Michelin Raceway, Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie drove their AERO-liveried Audi R8 LMS to a 21st place finish, but was enough to secure the IMSA GS championship at the end of the day for CarBahn with Peregrine Racing.
“The performance of our AERO-painted car was top notch, all year long” said McQuarrie. “The team has been top caliber in the preparation of our car. We have even heard some people saying our car looks brand new at every single race and that is fully because of the AERO technology that makes it looks fantastic no matter what is thrown at it on the track.”
The headline event on Saturday featured seven AERO- painted cars through three different classes. The No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 made its final start of the season and by taking the green flag, Trent Hindman and Mario Farnbacher secured the IMSA GTD Team and Driver Championships. The custom pink liveried Acura gave the Acura NSX GT3 Evo platform its first North American championship.
In the brutally competitive GTLM class, the dual Rahal Letterman Lanigan BMW M8 GTE machines had a strong fight to the finish. The AERO squad took third place after ten hours of hard fought racing in the No. 25 BMW with drivers Connor De Phillippe, Tom Blomqvist and Colton Herta as the team bookended the IMSA season with podium appearances.
AERO™ Sustainable Paint Technology has long been part of the successful run for Corvette Racing with the C7.R chassis. The team, which finished fourth and seventh in the GTLM class to close out the C7.R era, will now look ahead to the all new mid-engine C8.R for the 2020 season. The exciting new mid-engined machine previewed the future by pacing the field ahead of the IMSA race as fans got a sneak peak at the all-new look and sound of the future of Corvette Racing.
“We gave it the best shot we had to try and get second in the championship, but one point short,” said driver of the No. 3 Mobil 1/SiriusXM Corvette, Jan Magnussen. “We tied for second but obviously Porsche takes that because of race wins. Knowing how everything panned out, this was the best we could get out of it I think. Everyone wanted a win for the C7.R to send it off, but it wasn’t in the cards. We put on a good show…the best we could.”
The off-season for IMSA competitions will only allow for just over two months of preparation before returning on track for the 2020 season at the Roar Before the 24 in January.