DETROIT, Mich. – The OAK Racing Nissan-Morgan was impressively fast on the challenging 3.52-mile street course at Belle Isle, but it seemed there was little the team could do to upend the Corvette Daytona Prototypes running 1-2-3 on their home track in Saturday's TUDOR United SportsCar Championship (TUSCC) race.
Gustavo Yacaman started the car fourth, behind three of the Corvette Daytona Prototypes. The Colombian moved up a spot early, only to see the team fall back to fifth during the driver change pit stop. Olivier Pla put in a very strong closing stint, moving the Nissan-Morgan back up to fourth spot in the closing laps. It appeared that's where the car was destined to finish the race.
Then it happened. The DP Corvette of Joao Barbosa made contact with race leader Jordan Taylor on the final lap, breaking a rear tire rim and causing a blowout that shattered bodywork that covered the track. As the wounded race car limped around the track, the pink trimmed black LM P2 prototype slipped by for its first podium finish in the new racing series.
"We have always had a car to land us on top, so I am very happy to be on the podium," said Yacaman. "We struggled a little at the start. For some reason, I wasn't able to get the tire temperature that I was getting at Long Beach and Laguna Seca. We have had a podium car in every race, but luck hasn't come our way. While we are very pleased with the finish we got today. Our next goal now is to win the race."
Yacaman had race experience at the Detroit-Belle Isle circuit, having won a race in the Indy Lights Series and finishing seventh in the Rolex Sports Car Series event in 2013. He leaves Detroit fourth in driver championship points. Frenchman Pla, who has raced for OAK all over the world, had never seen the track before this weekend, making his solid performance even more impressive.
"It was a tough race, but it is great to get a podium finish here," said Pla. "The DP cars were very fast today, but I was pleased that I was able to push for another position at the end."
The TUSCC teams move on to Watkins Glen (NY) for the Sahlen's Six Hour at the Glen on June 27-29.
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