SEBRING, Fla., Nov. 15, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- Acura was the big winner in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship as the 2020 season came to a close Saturday night at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring, winning all six major titles in the headline Daytona Prototype International and production-based GT Daytona classes.
Acura Team Penske Acura's second consecutive sweep of the DPi Manufacturers', Drivers' and Teams' championships came with a second-place finish for the #6 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Dane Cameron, Juan Pablo Montoya and Simon Pagneaud.
Meanwhile, following an early race mechanical issue, their teammates in the #7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05 of Ricky Taylor, Helio Castroneves and endurance driver Alexander Rossi once again displayed incredible determination in battling back from a 12-lap deficit to finish eighth and claim the drivers' and teams' titles by a single championship point.
In typical Sebring fashion, the 12-hour endurance contest played out more like a sprint race, with action and suspense throughout the event. After starting from the pole, the #7 Acura with Taylor at the wheel lost turbocharger boost due to a component failure just 40 minutes into the race.
After going behind the wall for repairs, Taylor, Castroneves and Rossi resumed racing 12 laps behind the leaders, and raced hard into the night to cut the deficit by more than half. The resulting eighth-place finish crowned season-long drivers Taylor and Castroneves as champions, by a single point over the Wayne Taylor Racing pairing of Ryan Briscoe and Renger van der Zande. The title was the second for Taylor, and the first for Castroneves to cap an incredible, 21-year career with Team Penske.
Taking over at the front of the race as their teammates repairs continued, the #6 ARX-05 began a long battle for the lead with the #10 Wayne Taylor and #31 Action Express Cadillacs, with other competitors waiting in the wings should anyone at the front falter.
That opportunity came as night fell in the closing hours. Contact from Pipo Derani in the #31 sent Montoya spinning in the #6 Acura, dropping Montoya to third and resulting in a "drive through" penalty to Derani for the causing the collision. The pair of Mazda prototypes seized their chance to take control, until a cut tire and unscheduled pit stop for the #77 Mazda of Oliver Jarvis enabled Cameron to seize second place in the final hour, securing the DPi sweep as Acura claimed the Manufacturers' Championship by a single point over Cadillac.
Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo In the production-based GTD category, Meyer Shank Racing prevailed in a typically rough-and-tumble contest to complete a dominating season in the Manufacturers' Championship, with the Acura NSX GT3 Evo claiming the crown by an eight-point margin over nine other competing performance car OEM's, include Porsche, Lexus, BMW, Ferrari and Lamborghini.
In another typically gritty performance, the #86 MSR Acura of defending series champion Mario Farnbacher, Matt McMurry and Shinya Michimi used a third-place class finish to secure the drivers' and team's titles for full-season drivers Farnbacher and McMurry. This came despite contact from another competitor – for the fourth time the last five races – that set aside their hopes for a third GTD victory in 2020.
Still their season-long efforts – along with those of the partner trio of Joey Hand, Misha Goikhberg and Trent Hindman in the partner #57 Heinricher Racing with MSR Acura, was more than sufficient to secure the GTD Manufacturers' Championship by a relatively comfortable eight-point margin to complete the sweep of all six season-long IMSA DPi and GTD titles for Acura.
Next Today's race concluded the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship. Acura will return to defend its prototype and GTD titles in the 2021 season, which opens January 28-31 with the Rolex 24 at the famed Daytona International Speedway.
Quotes Wayne Gross(Race Team Manager, Honda Performance Development) on today's season-ending Twelve Hours of Sebring and championship sweep for Acura and HPD: "The Sebring 12 hour is always rough and challenging. This race was certainly no exception, full of drama, battles and excitement. But at the end of an incredible day and night, and an equally incredible IMSA season, Acura and our partner teams once again lived up to our motto of 'Precision Crafted Performance'. We did what was needed to take home the drivers', teams' and manufacturers' titles in both DPi and GTD, for a successful close to our relationship with Acura Team Penske in DPi, and Meyer Shank Racing in GTD. We are sincerely thankful to everyone at Acura Team Penske, and of course everyone at HPD, for their season-long efforts. Together, we've achieved success on so many fronts this year in truly unique, and always challenging, conditions.
"But there's no time to rest, as the 2021 season will be starting before we know it. We have a lot of work to do as MSR moves to DPi and is joined Wayne Taylor Racing to fly the Acura banner, and we're already working hard for next year."
Ricky Taylor(#7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05) 2020 IMSA DPi Champion with four wins in nine races: "To me [co-driver Helio Castroneves] is Team Penske. For me, it was the privilege of a lifetime to get to drive for Acura Team Penske and to have the best three years of my career here. To win this championship with this team, and with him [Castroneves] is one of the highlights of my life. We'll be friends for life."
Helio Castroneves (#7 Acura Team Penske ARX-05) 2020 IMSA DPi Champion with four wins in nine races: "There's just so much going through my mind right now. For me, being able to win this championship with this amazing organization, this incredible group of people, I'll never, ever forget this time. I have to thank everyone here, this guy [co-driver Ricky Taylor] and of course Roger Penske. What an incredible journey."
Mario Farnbacher(#86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo) 2020 IMSA GTD Champion with two wins and three podiums, successfully defends 2019 drivers' title: "This championship means everything. I got into this team in 2018 as a third [endurance race] driver, and I've grown so much since then. I was named a full-season driver last year and we became champions with [co-driver] Trent Hindman, Acura, HPD and Meyer Shank Racing. And now, this year, we did it again with these amazing two gentlemen [McMurry and Michimi], Acura and this amazing crew. It hurts a bit that this program ends with Meyer Shank Racing [as MSR moves to the DPi class in 2020 and new teams take over the Acura GTD effort], but for sure a new chapter will open next year. It's just so great to end this season with, first of all, the championship, and a podium at the end."
Matt McMurry(#86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo) 2020 IMSA GTD Champion with two wins and three podiums; 2019 LMP champion:"There were a lot of ups and downs all throughout the race, but we just did consistent laps the whole time. The team did such an awesome job, they always do. [Co-drivers] Mario [Farnbacher] and Shinya [Michimi] did such an incredible job. We couldn't have done it without everyone involved."