CrowdStrike Racing by APR sealed third place in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Battle On The Bricks at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway (15-17 September).
George Kurtz was in the lead fight throughout a drama-filled and stop/start opening hour, and Ben Hanley put in a valiant push to recover a podium result that keeps them in the fight for the LMP2 titles and the Trueman-Akin Award for Bronze-graded drivers, which guarantees an invitation to the 2024 24 Hours of Le Mans.
CrowdStrike Racing laid some solid groundwork for the Battle On The Bricks, as Kurtz and Hanley were the third fastest LMP2 pairing in Practice 1 (1m17.287s) before progressing to second in Practice 2 (1m16.823s).
In Qualifying, Kurtz came agonisingly close to sealing a third pole position of the season, as he was just 0.002s off the ultimate pace when red flags interrupted the session, his 1m18.390s standing to the end of play and keeping him and Hanley on the front row of the grid.
The Battle On The Bricks itself commenced with CrowdStrike’s Kurtz trying to get a run around the outside of the pole-sitting #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport car of Ben Keating at Turn 1.
He was forced to settle back into second position but snatched P1 after a brief Full Course Yellow (FCY), and then recorded fastest laps in an attempt to gap his pursuers.
However, there were further changes in the running order as the lead LMP2s struggled to lap wayward and uncooperative LMP3 and GTD traffic cleanly, but CrowdStrike Racing retook the initiative in a swift pit stop that occurred during a second neutralisation.
As is normal, a pass-around was initiated to put the field into class order for the restart, but, in a confusing turn of events, the rival #52 car went before the #04 and back to the head of LMP2.
CrowdStrike Racing by APR expected the positions to be reversed while still behind the Safety Car, but the race went on and teams then began boxing once their Bronze-graded drivers had completed their minimum hour-long stints, Kurtz giving up the #04 ORECA 07-Gibson to Pro teammate Hanley.
The British racer was fourth at the start of his stint and after the final round of scheduled pit stops, but he did his utmost to bring CrowdStrike Racing back into play for another podium result, snatching P3 in the final throes for 332 points that put the team third in the championship with a tally of 1580, with only Motul Petit Le Mans remaining.
George Kurtz (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “We earned solid points in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Battle On The Bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, but of course we wanted to be on the top step of the podium. The #04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA had good pace and we enjoyed the on-track battles in a very competitive LMP2 class. We will regroup and be ready for Motul Petit Le Mans.”
Ben Hanley (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “Although a podium is good, we are a bit frustrated with third place. It was a great job by CrowdStrike Racing by APR and George (Kurtz) and we had a good car throughout the weekend at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, so we deserved a bit more. We lost a bit of pace between free practice and the race and need to look into that, but we can add it to our experience for Motul Petit Le Mans, as it’s all to play for in the championships.”