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Sunday at Seca: IMSA Closes West Coast Run In Laguna Seca

(Photo: Owen Jackson-Strode | The Podium Finish)

Sebastian Bourdais, driver of the No. 01 Cadillac Racing, entry, wins the pole for Sunday’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca IMSA WSC race. (Photo: Owen Jackson-Strode | The Podium Finish)

MONTEREY, Calif. — The final race out in California sets Laguna Seca as the host for Round 4 of the 2024 IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, just a few weeks before the series rejoins the NTT INDYCAR Series for its second and final time on the streets of Detroit.

This year’s Laguna Seca weekend features three other IMSA-sanctioned series: the Michelin Pilot Challenge, the Whelen Mazda MX-5 Cup, and the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America Series. Meanwhile, the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship presents itself as the feature race on Sunday afternoon.

Just under 2.3 miles in length, WeatherTech Raceway recently underwent a track repave following IMSA’s race at the famed circuit. While the surface will be a new test for the IMSA drivers, it has been broken in significantly with all the racing that has been at the circuit.

It should be quite an exciting fourth race on the IMSA calendar at a track that has always delivered high-speed weekends, given its flowing style of racing.

GM Goods

General Motors (GM) has had quite a few weeks in California.

Between the No. 4 Corvette Racing by Pratt Miller entry, co-driven by Tommy Milner and Nicky Catsburg, and the No. 01 Cadillac Racing car co-piloted by Sebastian Bourdais and Regner van der Zande, GM’s entries across the board have been so consistent amongst the field.

Cadillac has been on another level, with the future of the brand’s involvement uncertain given Chip Ganassi’s departure from the brand. Still, the manufacturer in IMSA has made themselves one of the hottest commodities in sports car racing.

The brand secured its fourth straight pole position and is coming off its first race win after Bourdais and van der Zande held off the field on a one-tyre strategy.

The momentum is solely on the Cadillacs, and while Porsche and BMW have shown pace to contend, Cadillac just seems like they have the consistency compared to their GTP foes.

These early successes couldn’t be said for Corvettes.

The new Corvette Z06 GT3.R had its fair share of problems, most notably with AWA, taking a divot from a two-car program to one for the foreseeable future.

Even the Corvette Racing entries have not come out scotch-free following two miserable opening races at Daytona and Sebring. However, this weekend may have been the spark that was needed.

Corvette Racing has always been a contender in the GTD Pro class, and with a lighter field in the red-stained entries, Laguna Seca may be a chance for the team to make a splash.

Corvette Racing has struggled at some of these unique circuits, such as Daytona or even Long Beach, where it runs a street course configuration, but Laguna Seca caters to Corvettes strong suits, which are fixed circuits.

With some help on the front row with Pratt Miller’s sister entry in the #3 (Antonio Garcia/Alexander Sims), Corvette may be in the most favorable position to start a race, similar to its GM brothers.

Back Where It Began

While this is more about the story, performance has also been a key to the build for this weekend.

Last season was the debut of customer cars in the GTP class in IMSA with the JDC-Miller Motorsports “Yellow Banana Boat” Porsche 963, and following a year of customer entries in IMSA, we have seen impressive growth from our original customer buyers.

Mike Rockenfeller and Tijmen van der Helm were both a part of that first race for the GTP entry by JDC-Miller, and while the team has evolved since year one, JDC-Miller truly helped usher in a new era that has created change across the sport.

Since that debut race, IMSA has seen the addition of another Porsche 963 customer entry by Proton Competition and, at the end of last season, a podium finish for Proton, the first customer team to grab a top 3 finish.

In 2024, both teams level of competition hasn’t changed, and with JDC-Miller back where it began, it truly creates a great full-circle moment.

The team already has a victory under their belt this weekend at Laguna Seca in the TCR class in the Laguna Seca 120, giving the team a chance to maybe grab two class wins in the top two IMSA series this weekend, but it might be a challenge given their starting position for tomorrow.

Without JDC-Miller, customer teams and talks may not even be a thought for IMSA. By having the team come back to a track that holds some special feelings, it really comes full circle for the eye-catching, bright, liveried Porsche.

Final Thoughts

Looking forward to Sunday’s feature race, GM’s set of polesitters will definitely be a force to contend with, but there are still some contenders that could make a splash.

Cadillac has been dominant at Laguna Seca and looks to repeat both race wins from 2023 to ’24 and just back-to-back wins consecutively.

It is hard to believe how dominant Chip Ganassi’s entry has been over the past two races since the announcement of their ties being cut, but it is making it into a Meyer Shank-type season like 2023.

The real classes that seem to be open are the GTD classes.

Both classes seem to have a much wider battle for the top podium spot tomorrow, and even though GTD Pro is being run by Corvettes at the top, GTD could be more of a boxing match.

WeatherTech Raceway hopefully should provide a great event. With the added unknowns of a new surface, the opening laps could get dicey up front in movement for position.

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