Earl Bamber has crashed out from the lead in a wild GT Le Mans race in round four of the IMSA WeatherTech Championship from Road America as biblical rains caused havoc in the final half of the event.
Meanwhile, a last-lap pass saw Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor clinch a remarkable victory to continue Corvette’s sublime start to 2020.
Bamber and Porsche co-driver Laurens Vanthoor had rocketed to pole position at the Wisconsin venue the previous day and despite falling behind Taylor off the line, the #912 Porsche quickly recovered ground to establish a comfortable lead.
By the time Bamber had taken control of the car after the mandatory round of driver changes, the Kiwi had a 15-second lead over his nearest rival but came unglued in a tactical misshape as driving rain quickly flooded the circuit.
Corvette had wisely opted to whistle their drivers in for a switch to the wet tyres with Bamber left hung out to dry as he had to cycle on worn slicks around an increasingly greasy surface.
Consequently, the Kiwi aquaplaned at Turn 1, skating across the gravel before coming to rest against the barrier. A certain maiden win of the season immediately slipped from the team’s grasp just as race officials waved the red flag to suspend all running as they waited for the rain to abate.
Nick Tandy in the second Porsche had miraculously found himself at the head of the queue at the restart but was forced to cycle through pitlane for a top-up of fuel so as to make the finish.
That left John Edwards’ in the #24 BMW, which was unquestionably the less superior car in the GTLM field, in the lead ahead of Garcia.
A shock win for the German manufacturer was on the table but only for Edwards to run off the road at the Turn 7 kink while navigating the slower GT Daytona cars, gifting the victory to Garcia and Corvette’s third successive triumph.
Bamber would finish the race two laps down on Garcia in fourth, with that elusive win yet to be captured.
“We had two great cars today,” said a disappointed Bamber after the race.
“With the 912 we opted for the right tyres to win, but the message about the rain didn’t reach me. I made a mistake and flew off the track.
“Now we have to look ahead and earn as many points as possible at the next race.”
Helio Castroneves and Ricky Taylor in the #7 Acura would claim outright honours, muscling their way past Renger van der Zande in the dying stages to finish three-tenths ahead of their rivals at the chequered flag.
Bamber’s next chance for victory will come from Virginia International Raceway on August 23 for the Michelin GT Challenge event.