SA’s Simpson closes IMSA season in style
South Africa’s Stephen Simpson closed off his 2017 IMSA WeatherTech Prototype challenge in typical forceful style as he and teammates, Russo-Canadian Misha Goikhberg and US driver Chris Miller drove the JDC-Miller Motorsport Oreca-Gibson home to sixth at Road Atlanta’s Petit Le Mans season finale in Georgia over the weekend. The trio had led the race earlier, but lost time following a clash, although the result was good enough to clinch a championship fourth, first of the privateers behind the mighty factory Cadillacs.
“As expected, the season finale at Petit Le Mans was a great event with tough battles and strong competition throughout,” Stephen explained. “Heading into the weekend, we had a shot at finishing second in the championship, but with additional strong entries from Penske and Rebellion who entered with Oreca cars just like ours, we knew it was going to be tough, but also a good opportunity.
“It was good to lead a portion of the race during my first few stints and we were nice and competitive, but at just after the half distance, my teammate had an incident which put us down a few laps. “We were able to get a lap back but we were out of contention for victory. “All in all the JDC-Miller team did a fantastic job and it’s been a strong year.”
Indianapolis-based Capetonian Simpson, Goikhberg and Miller’s performance in the essentially privateer JDC-Miller Motorsport’s Oreca-Gibson should not be understated. The small outfit running out of Eastern Creek Minnesota was consistently in the fight through the season and regularly the only car to trouble the Cadillacs in the championship through 2017 and although it never won a race, the team consistently led races and placed on the podium.
The WeatherTech championship moves up another gear in 2018, with new factory entries from the likes of Acura — Honda’s US brand racing with top team Penske and Mazda moving over to multiple FIA World Endurance champions Joest racing alongside the Cadillacs and several other exciting new developments, but Simpson and the little JDC-Miller team can’t wait for the new challenge starting end-January with the Daytona 24-hour.
“Attention now is focused on 2018,” Stephen Simpson concluded. “We will be on track in a few weeks testing for the new season.”