And then there were five. Five drivers remain in the battle for the GT Le Mans (GTLM) TUDOR United SportsCar Championship and they represent five different countries, three manufacturers and three teams.
Ranging in age from 33 to 46, the five are a mix of prospective and past champions.
Porsche North America team’s Patrick Pilet of France leads the championship on the strength of three consecutive victories at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, Road America and VIRginia International Raceway.
Pilet and co-driver Nick Tandy appeared on the verge of a fourth consecutive victory at Circuit of The Americas but needed to stop for a splash of fuel in the final moments and fell to third place.
Despite that success, Pilet holds a mere three point lead over BMW Team RLL’s Bill Auberlen and Dirk Werner. Auberlen, of Redondo Beach, California, is a former IMSA champion, and at age 46, is enjoying one of his best seasons.
His co-driver, Dirk Werner of Germany, 34, noted at Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca that he actually hadn’t won a race in nearly five years.
But, he and Auberlen have victories at both Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Circuit of The Americas and expect a strong run at Road Atlanta.
Longer races, like the 10 hours of Petit Le Mans, tend to bring out the best at Corvette Racing, where Spain’s Antonio Garcia, 35, and Denmark’s Jan Magnussen, 42, have teamed with Ryan Briscoe for big 2015 wins at the Rolex 24 At Daytona and the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring on their scorecards. Magnussen is a three-time class winner at Petit Le Mans.
Garcia and Magnussen, the 2013 series champions, have struggled in the second half of the season. They are, however, just 10 points adrift and ready to seize the slightest opportunities.
A victory at Petit Le Mans by Werner and Auberlen would swing the team and driver titles to BMW Team RLL no matter where Pilet finishes.
One wild card may be the Risi Competizione Ferrari team with Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer.
The pair have posted five podium finishes in 2015, including the past three races and both have class wins at Petit Le Mans.
279 – 911 Porsche North America
276 – 25 BMW Team RLL
269 – 3 Corvette Racing
266 – 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari
290 – Porsche
287 – BMW
274 – Chevrolet
274 – Ferrari