Dan Weyland closes out the 2016 season with a trip to the Silver Masters podium
Austin, Texas (26 September 2016) – They say things are bigger in Texas, and it was another big weekend for Kelly-Moss Road and Race at Circuit of the Americas. Just one week after claiming both the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup team and driver championship titles with Jesse Lazare, Kelly-Moss Road and Race once again delivered huge results – this time in the Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA season-finale.
Competing in the top-level Diamond category, the father-son duo of Bryce and Russell Ward, both of whom hail from the state of Texas, closed out the year with a double podium finish of third and second respectively, on Saturday. Russell scored another runner-up finish in Sunday’s race with Bryce not far behind, taking the checkered flag in fifth.
Fellow Texan Dan Weyland completed his 2016 Pirelli GT3 Cup Trophy USA season on a high note by taking his first podium of the year in the Silver Masters division.
With wet weather a constant threat throughout the weekend, the changing conditions played a significant role in the double-header event. Thunderstorms surrounded the Austin area on Saturday and track officials delayed the start of Race 15. When the green flag flew, the Porsche machines took to a slightly damp and cool track. Despite challenging track conditions, both father and son ran a smart and clean race while other competitors were caught out.
“I caught (Mark) Nelson in traffic as soon as we hit the GT4s and I was able to get alongside in Turn 8 and carry the momentum past him,” said Russell Ward of his forward progression after starting third. “Then I caught traffic and Nelson and Chiocchetti were able to get by me in Turn 20. Over the course of the race, I hit my apexes and kept my ground. Chiocchetti had an incident in Turn 11 and Nelson spun on the same lap at the Carousel and I was able to pull it up and keep it there. It’s unbelievable: it’s truly a pleasure to be on the podium with my dad: he’s an incredible driver.”
The result is the first-ever shared podium by the father and son and is all the more remarkable for young Russell Ward who is in just his first year of Porsche competition.
“I started sixth and got a good start – I got by Tom Haacker at the start and he harassed me the entire race!” said Bryce Ward of Saturday’s event. “I was quicker than him but when we caught the GT4s he was right on my tail and I had to drive defensively for a few laps. I managed to gap him again and caught up to Chiocchetti, Nelson and Russell and I almost got by all of them in Turn 20, because they all bunched up– but I couldn’t get the power down heading up the main straight. Chiocchetti tried to get around one of the GT4s in Turn 11 and it just wasn’t there. Russell was holding back, to give the GT4s room, as we’ve been asked to do. But Chiocchetti took a gap that wasn’t there. Nelson spun at the exit of the Carousel and I took that position with pleasure. Russell was quick today, though I’d have been happier if I were second! But well done, Russell.”
Weyland, who races in the Silver Masters class which utilizes the Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport also drove a clean race to bring his No. 17 machine home fifth.
Once again, weather was the word of the day on Sunday as thunderstorms not only delayed the start of the final race of the year, but also saw the event shortened to a 20-minute sprint.
Though the track was wet for the start of the race, it was rapidly drying which made for a challenging situation as teams chose between using rain tires or slick tires. Kelly-Moss Road and Race opted for the wet tires, as did much of the field and as the track began to dry out, tire management was key.
Once again both of the Wards made the most of the slippery track conditions through the opening segment of the race and then worked to find wet patches on track in the final stages to cool the tires. Russell Ward managed the tires perfectly and put himself in position to take his second consecutive runner-up finish of the weekend while Bryce took home another top-five result.
Perhaps no driver was happier for the rainy event than Weyland, who loves the thrill of wet weather driving. His experience and skill at the wheel of his Porsche was on full display as he moved his way up to take third for his best result of the year.
“I love rain races!” exclaimed Weyland. “It’s the most fun thing you can do in the car. I’ve raced this track in the rain before and it was fun. It was totally enjoyable. The car was just perfect. There wasn’t that much water to be found out there. I’d try to get close to the pit wall coming down the front straight to try to pick up some water but other than that there was no other standing water on the course, so by the end the tires were really getting squirrely. Pirelli builds a great rain tire, no question about it!”
Kelly-Moss Road and Race will be right back in action next weekend for the final round of the IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Challenge USA by Yokohama with Jesse Lazare, Mike Hedlund, and Wayne Ducote. Though they already have the championship titles wrapped up, Kelly-Moss Road and Race will be looking to add to its win tally.
“It was a great weekend at COTA,” said Team Principal Jeff Stone. “Coming to this track is always fun but coming here with three Texans that really want to be here in front of their home crowd is extra special. To be on the podium with Dan (Weyland) and Russell (Ward) today, and to have father and son on the podium together yesterday, it doesn’t get any better. It’s a great way to finish the season. Looking ahead to Road Atlanta next week, Mike Hedlund just had an awesome run over at Spa and Jesse (Lazare) has no pressure on him heading into the IMSA season-finale. We’re just looking to go have fun and win a couple of races and have a whole lot of celebration.”
The IMSA Porsche GT3 Cup Trophy USA weekend kicks off with a promoter test day on Tuesday at Road Atlanta.