Earl Bamber will be hoping to forget his time at Virginia International Raceway after the Kiwi finished several laps down after a clumsy collision with a rival BMW as Corvette claimed yet another unlikely victory after the leading Porsche suffered a puncture in the closing laps.
Antonio Garcia and Jordan Taylor looked content to hold onto second behind the #911 Porsche of Frederic Makowiecki and Nick Tandy but with 18 minutes left on the clock, the runaway leaders were whistled into the pitlane with its second damaged tyre of an action-packed race.
Porsche had dominated qualifying and had largely been expected to blot away from the field in the GT-only round of the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship, but a lightning start by Connor de Phillippi in the BMW split the Porsche duo for the opening few laps.
The race’s first caution was waved to collect some standard debris at Turn 1 and the subsequent restart saw Bamber’s co-driver Laurens Vanthoor reclaim second position.
Second then became first as race leader Makowiecki experienced a left-rear puncture just as the Corvette duo began scything towards the front of the pack. A second yellow was deployed moments later when a GT Daytona Audi R8 found the tyre barrier but not before Bamber had taken control of the #912 Porsche during the compulsory pitstop window.
The Kiwi took the restart in second but came under fire from a stubborn De Phillippi in the BMW. The pair clashed as Bamber relinquished the position but was compelled to cycle the pitlane to repair loose bodywork.
Only a few laps passed before Bamber again suffered dramas with a damaged diffuser which demanded the attention of his mechanics.
By the time he rejoined the race, the #912 Porsche was several laps down and out of contention for the win.
After their earlier puncture, a shrewd race strategy had ensured Tandy and the #912 regained the lead after the pitstops and cautions played themselves out; and the advantage to the front took a healthy boost when De Phillippi spun from second.
This gifted second to the fortunate Corvette of Taylor and when Tandy picked up another puncture, the American pilot cruised to their third victory of the year and strengthens their vice-like grip on the championship.
In GTD, Bill Auberlen claimed his 61st career win which makes him the most successful driver in IMSA history.
The 51-year-old series veteran guided his BMW M6 GT3 to victory after cycling to the race lead during the driver change pit sequence.