Nov 14, 2022
2022 welcomed the first full season of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship for Mercedes AMG Customer Racing team Winward Racing, and what a year it was.
After 10 rounds of the ultra-competitive IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship, Winward Racing finished P5 in their first shot at the IWSC GTD title. The team earned 2 class wins at Road America and Virginia International Raceway, as well as a P2 finish at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park. Winward also claimed the GTD Front Runner Award for most laps led throughout the season, and GTD Pole Award for Russell Ward after his qualifying performance at Daytona International Speedway, WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca and VIR.
Despite their success, Winward encountered a series of frustrating near misses in the journey to claiming their first 2022 win, looking to follow up their Rolex 24 win from their inaugural performance in 2021. Falling victim to mechanical failure at Daytona, Sebring, Long Beach and Lime Rock (at the final turn), perfect execution seemed to not be enough for a spot at the top of the podium. The team suffered another blow, along with 8 other teams, at Watkins Glen after their Sahlen’s 6 Hour win was stripped in Victory Lane for a drive-time infraction due to the hour-long lightning delay (This rule has since been modified).
Despite the bad-luck, the team’s impressive performance throughout August made them 1 in 4 teams going to Road Atlanta with a shot at the championship – Just a hand full of points separating the top GTD teams.
Just as the three preceding endurance races of the year, the season finale Petit Le Mans was a long, hard-fought battle all the way to the end. With Road Atlanta being a favorite for Winward’s drivers, and the momentum coming from their two previous back-to-back wins, the team had a lot of excitement and energy going into the weekend. Winward took the green flag P7 GTD and raced hard for about 9.9 hours. Unfortunately, however in theme, the #57 got caught in a DPi battle that sent Philip Ellis in the wall with 5 minutes remaining until the checkered flag, losing their P3 spot. One final near miss for their crazy season.
Now in the off-season, Winward is focused on learning from the trials and successes of the previous year and working hard to prepare for the competitive field to come in 2023. Winward plans to compete in another full season of IWSC - More to come.