CrowdStrike Racing by APR returned to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship podium with George Kurtz and Ben Hanley, following several enthralling battles for LMP2 glory in the MOTUL Course de Monterey Powered by Hyundai N at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca (12-14 May).
The #04 CrowdStrike pairing started the weekend on a strong footing, as Kurtz and Hanley finished a close second in Friday’s one and only free practice session and were a solid top six contender when the build-up recommenced the following morning (Saturday 13 May).
Conditions in Monterey, California were scorching by the time Qualifying came around, and Bronze-graded Kurtz’s pace was just as hot.
The American Am had been fast throughout practice and converted his pace into a maiden LMP2 pole position, beating the competition by just 0.061s with a magnificent final effort of 1m19.262s, having been impeded by traffic for much of the 15-minute session.
As a result, spirits were high within the CrowdStrike Racing by APR camp on raceday (Sunday 14 May), but, having previously bathed in warm sunshine, the IMSA paddock awoke to find a cold Laguna Seca blanketed in fog.
While thick enough to significantly delay and curtail the “Warm-Up” and support races, the murk and ambient temperatures slowly lifted as the morning wore on and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship headliner started on time just after midday.
Poleman Kurtz gave up track position to the #52 PR1 Mathiasen Motorsport car during a predictably frenetic opening lap, which was interrupted by an early Full Course Yellow (FCY).
The CrowdStrike driver went with the new leader while also protecting P2 from a hard-charging #11 TDS Racing entry when the green flags flew, but the #04 ORECA 07 LMP2 tumbled to fifth when the prototype field flooded into pit lane for fuel during a second neutralisation.
The field spread was minimal at the restart and Kurtz kept the class forerunners in view, eventually finding a way past the #35 TDS machine to be knocking on the door of the podium places at the end of his 65-minute stint.
A third FCY served up an opportunity to conduct “cheap” driver changes, and the #04 was the first LMP2 off the lane after CrowdStrike Racing by APR placed Hanley at the controls.
The American-flagged team led the way once again, but Hanley was chased hard and lost out when he and his nearest LMP2 opponents became entangled in a fierce GTP battle, ultimately boxing from sixth during a final-hour caution period.
However, the British Pro was soon back in the lead, the top four running nose-to-tail in an ever-intensifying fight that included a pass for P1 by the opportunistic #11 entry and a staunch defence against the attacking #52, which later found a route through into second position.
George Kurtz (#04 CrowdStrike Racing by APR ORECA 07 LMP2): “A podium here at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca is a solid result for CrowdStrike Racing by APR. Of course, we wanted a little more after starting from pole position because it’s all about winning, but to come home in third position having never tested or run at this circuit before is great. It was a good team effort all-round and the #04 ORECA 07 LMP2 was great throughout the weekend. I’m already looking forward to seeing what can be achieved in the next event and how the championship shakes out, because we’re definitely in a spot we can build on in the remaining races that make up the 2023 IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup.”