South Africa’s Stephen Simpson kept his hunt for second in the US IMSA Weathertech Championship alive after he and teammate Misha Goikhberg drove their JDC-Miller racing Oreca Gibson to a come-from-behind fourth in Sunday’s America’s Tire 250 at the Laguna Seca Raceway in California.
The South African/Russo-Canadian duo ended up behind popular winners, Marc Goossens and Renger Van Der Zande in the Visit Florida Racing Ligier LMP2, which brought some cheer to that battered state, while once again splitting the dominant Cadillacs of podium sitters Dane Cameron and Eric Curran and Taylor brothers Ricky and Jordan, but ahead of the fifth-placed Joao Barbosa/Christian Fittipaldi car.
That has set up a grandstand title finish between Cameron and Eric Curran, Barbosa and Fittipaldi and Simpson and Goikhberg, with the three teams split by just seven championship points with just the 10-hour Petit Le Mans to race this coming weekend.
“It was a challenging weekend for us,” Stephen Simpson explained. “We battled to find a good balance and setup in the car through practice into qualifying and warm up, so we were not sure how competitive we would be in the race. “But the JDC Miller Motorsports guys did a fantastic job as usual and my teammate Misha made a great start from 8th on the grid and put in two competitive stints, so by the time I got in, we were running in sixth.
“Our car seemed to become more competitive as everyone else’s tires went away as the race went on and our final pitstop was very good and we were able to gain another position and then I was able to overtake Barbosa’s Caddy going into the Corkscrew with 2 laps to go. “Fourth was not quite what we were aiming for going into the weekend, but all things considered it was a good recovery, so it’s on to Petit Le Mans in two weeks — we cannot wait!”