A promising race outing for Scuderia Corsa was foiled late in the closing minutes at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, as the team took a seven-place finish in the Monterey Sports Car Championship in the penultimate round of the 2020 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Cooper MacNeil started third in the No. 63 WeatherTech Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020. After losing a spot early in the running, Macneil and his co-driver Alessandro Balzan fought in the top four for the majority of the two-hour, 40 minute race in Monterey.
But with 15 minutes remaining, Balzan was spun by the fifth-place car, causing him to lose four positions. The Italian was only able to regain one of them before running out of time. It was not smooth sailing in the race. The worn track surface – combined with temperatures near 90 – provided challenges for all of the competitors.
“The track was real abrasive, and our Michelin tires were getting eaten alive out there,” MacNeil said. “Every lap just eats the tires at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. We were holding our own a bit, but the conditions were really tricky out there. As soon as you started sliding, it just got worse and worse – and after that, it doesn’t come back. It was difficult to drive because it wanted to swap ends in each corner. I was able to keep the Aston behind me, it was a great battle with my old teammate Ian James.”
MacNeil, Balzan and endurance specialist Jeff Westphal won the GTD class in the recent Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta. Given the challenges of the legendary 2.,238-mile California circuit, a repeat victory was not in the cards.
“I really took care of the tires on the frontend of both my stints,” Balzan said. “I was able to get a gap to P5 and P6. It was a battle to get every tenth out of the lap. It is frustrating. A top five result was possible after our win at Petit Le Mans. I got touched in the rear. But we move on. I am happy that the WeatherTech Ferrari is not damaged. Cooper qualified well. We had to deal with tire degradation all race. We almost had a perfect weekend. We look ahead to Sebring.”
“The car we had today it would have been special [to follow up the Petit Le Mans victory], but I didn’t see that happening,” said McNeil. “We have to be realistic. Our Ferrari was running strong, but a podium would have been nice. But, on to Sebring!”
Scuderia Corsa returns to endurance mode for the season finale. Originally scheduled for its traditional March date during Spring Break, the Twelve Hours of Sebring will be contested on Saturday, Nov. 14.
“Sebring is one of my favorite tracks in the country,” MacNeil said. “I won there in 2013, we finished third there last March, and I want to get back on the top step this year.”