Michelin Pilot Challenge: Mark Wilkins and Hyundai win TCR


Having qualified the car, Jesse Lazare took the start of the race for MIA and things looked promising. Same for Compass Racing with Kuno Wittmer’s teammate Paul Holton starting the race. Both ran in the top three for the first part of the race that was marked with several full course yellow due to the ever changing track condition. Light rain was again part of the plan for Mother Nature to keep things interesting. With a track that proved very slick, drivers in the pursue of bettering their position, found themselves in trouble more often than none.

And unfortunately, Sometimes you become victims of someone else’s mistake. And this happened to Paul Holton when he got hit by a competitor. The damage were important enough that the car needed to be brought back to the trailer for repair. Kuno Wittmer, who was waiting in the pits to take over from his teammate for the second half of the race eventually was able to get back on track following repairs to the car to finish in 22nd place some 21 laps behind the winner. After the race, Kuno had this reflection: “Today was just one of those days. Our race was off to a great start in the McLaren 570S GT4 until there was a contact from a competitor. The contact was significant enough to send us behind the wall and repair the rear suspension. We rejoined the race with 30 minutes to go. All in all, The Compass crew did a great job and the McLaren was stellar. Off to the next one!”

All the while, the Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N TCR of Toronto driver Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis(USA) were in a good battle for a podium. With strategy playing a big role throughout the race and amidst all the full course yellow brining the field back together, the last 15 minutes were full of action at the front as drivers were making their last attempt at gaining a place on the podium. Unfortunately for MIA that was not the case anymore after a strong showing in the beginning.

At the checkered flag, it was the Park Place Motorsport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson who took the honours in the GS class followed by Riley Motorsport Mercedes AMG James Cox and Dylan Murry and in third place Carbahn Motorsport Audi R8 of Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie.

Korh Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 had a good finish with Kyle Marcelli(5th) and Kenny Wilden(6). MIA McLaren GT4 of Jesse Lazare/Craig Fergus were classified in seventh place and finally the AWA team of Scott Hargrove/Orey Fidani came in 17th.

Things ended much better for Mark Wilkins and the Bryan Herta Autosport team in the TCR class as they came across the finish line in first place securing the first IMSA victory for Hyundai. Second place went to Roadshagger Racing Audi RS3 LMS of drivers Gavin Ernstone/Jon Morley and third eEuroparts.com ROWE Audi RS3 LMS of Russell McDonough/Ryan Nash.

The Mark Motors pair Marco Cirone and Remo Ruscitti came close to the podium but lost a battle in the final minute of the race to finish fourth while James Vance’s Fast MD Racing Audi RS3 LMS did not finish the race.

Lots of action on the track and on the grass for this Michelin Challenge. The next race will take place at Watkins Glen on June 27-30.

Image: PMstills Photography

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