Jeff Westphal made a pass for the lead with one-hour, seven minutes remaining and never looked back, leading the Scuderia Corsa Ferrari to victory in the GTD class in Saturday’s Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
Westphal ran down and passed Jack Hawksworth to lead the 10-hour IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship race in Scuderia Corsa’s No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 co-driven by Cooper MacNeil and Alessandro Balzan. While Westphal relinquished the point during his final pit stop with 56 minutes remaining, the lead circled back to the white Ferrari and he led the rest of the race. In all, the team led 99 laps – including the final 40, en route to its first IMSA triumph of the season
Westphal was leading by 14.882-seconds when a caution waved. The event restarted with five minutes remaining, but another crash confirmed the victory for Ferrari as the caution flag flew.
“We all worked and cooperated so well together today,” Westphal said. “We started with a car that had great pace over one lap, but was killing the rear tires. Throughout each day, we made it better and better, and it really came alive in the race, which was what we were hoping. We made just a few mistakes, everyone worked flawlessly, and the car was hooked up. It was an awesome first win for me.”
Qualifying second, Westphal took the lead at the drop of the green flag and led the opening 20 laps before pitting under the first caution to turn the Ferrari over to MacNeil. The white Ferrari with red and blue trim was in podium contention for the remainder of the race.
“It was an amazing race today,” said Balzan, celebrating his 40th birthday. “Cooper was impressive, and the car was mega. It’s great to be back, and I’d like to thank Scuderia Corsa for putting me back in the car. I’m really happy, because I was missing this win.”
“This is one of the most difficult races in the world, even if it’s only 10 hours,” MacNeil said. “These two guys drove their asses off. It was phenomenal all weekend. The team worked super-hard all weekend. We had a good car here in the six hours, and we expected a good car for this race, but that wasn’t the case. We had to work hard at it and changed a lot of things, so I have to thank them for the hard work.”
The victory was the fourth class triumph in five years for Ferrari. MacNeil was in the lineup for Scuderia Corsa’s GTD-winning entry in 2018, while Risi Competizione captured GTLM honors in 2016 and 2019.
The toughness of the Ferrari 488 was demonstrated in a pair of contact incidents with the two Mazda DPis. The Ferrari managed to continue without pitting both times after what were deemed racing incidents.
Next up for Scuderia Corsa is the IMSA weekend at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Sunday, Nov. 1. The season ends with the rescheduled 12 Hours of Sebring on Nov. 14.