Earl Bamber and Scott Dixon settled for fifth in the Petit Le Mans at Road Atlanta.
A late call-up to drive the No.1 Chip Ganassi Cadillac, Bamber was instantly on the pace despite having limited seat time beforehand.
The Kiwi was third in the warmup and played an integral role in Chip Ganassi Racing’s strategy across the 10-hour race.
The team had to start at the back of the prototype field because Bamber was drafted in late.
Renger van der Zande started the race for the team and kept the car clean and tidy over his stint.
Bamber looked as if he was a prototype veteran when he eventually hopped into the car. His race was only kicking into gear when he was clipped by Loic Duval, damaging the No.1’s rear wing.
The team temporarily fixed the damage under caution, and Bamber remained on the lead lap.
Dixon took over from his homeland compatriot for the next stint. The team were nicely nestled in the top-five until a suspected loose brake rotor cost time and Dixon dropped a lap on the leaders.
A lap proved too much to get back, and van der Zande brought the car home in fifth overall, one tour down.
Harry Tincknell gave Mazda the perfect farewell for their IMSA programme, winning the race after a late overtake with 20 minutes remaining.
Felipe Nasr fended off a wild last-lap move by Ricky Taylor to finish second overall in the Whelen Engineering Racing Cadillac.
Australian Matt Campbell took top honours in the last-ever GT Le Mans race, the class being replaced by GT Daytona Pro next year.
Bamber’s impressive form may be a positive omen for the Kiwi and Chip Ganassi Racing as he joins the team full-time in 2022.
Dixon, meanwhile, will remain as a third driver for the longer endurance events.
The 2022 IMSA series begins with the traditional Daytona 24 Hour on the last weekend of January.