VIR

Photo courtesy of IMSA

IMSA: Michelin GT Challenge provides second GT-only showcase in ’17

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Three race weekends remain in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, but not three races for all four of its classes.

While the Prototype and Prototype Challenge classes are off until Monterey and Road Atlanta, respectively, this weekend’s two-hour, 40-minute Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway provides the GT Le Mans and GT Daytona their second of two GT-only standalone showcase events this season (Sunday, 1:30 p.m. ET).

Like last race at Road America, variety has been the spice of life among GTLM winners. Risi Competizione, Porsche North America and Corvette Racing have won at VIR the last three years with the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia, No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR and No. 3 Corvette C7.R, respectively.

Each of those three car numbers is somewhat intriguing to note this weekend for different reasons.

Photo: Risi Competizione

Risi’s No. 62 Ferrari 488 GTE is back after a several-race hiatus, the team having withdrawn temporarily after an expensive, crash-laden first half of the season through Le Mans. Out of the championship and with nothing to lose, the capable duo of Toni Vilander and Giancarlo Fisichella can properly play spoiler.

Engineer Rick Mayer describes the challenge of picking the best Michelin tire compound for VIR depending on the temperatures: “Michelin tire selection might come into play here as the track is dark and if its sunny will get very hot, maybe favoring one tire compound over another. All GTLMs have Michelin options that span the temperature window. Predicting weather and the best tire compound could be important if the track temperature is variable.”

The No. 911 Porsche, driven this year by Patrick Pilet and Dirk Werner, remains on the fringe of title contention in GTLM at 22 points back in fifth place and look to complete a sweep of the two GT-only races this year, having delivered the new mid-engined car’s first overall win at Lime Rock Park a month ago.

“I have fond memories of this storied racetrack deep in the heart of America. In 2015, we celebrated one-two finish there with Porsche. It’s an old school circuit with many fast curves where you can’t afford to make one mistake. If you end up on the grass, you might as well drive straight back to the pits to get the radiator cleaned,” Pilet said.

Meanwhile it’s No. 3 Corvette C7.R of Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen that, having weathered the storm of a few tough races where the Corvette has not had the Balance of Performance in its favor, maintains the points lead and looks for an encore of its win here last year. Magnussen has matched Garcia as one of the series’ best GT drivers really since this race last year. With Corvette having been given a bit of BoP help this weekend (a 0.5 mm air restrictor increase and an increased fuel flow restrictor), it should help the team get back to its usual race winning contention.

Two sets of pairings – Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand (No. 66 Ford Chip Ganassi Racing Ford GT) and Bill Auberlen and Alexander Sims (No. 25 BMW Team RLL BMW M6 GTLM) – remain within striking distance in points at eight and nine points back (239-231-230) of the lead. The second Ford pairing of Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook needs a bit more help at 14 points back.

Consistency has kept the Alessandro Balzan and Christina Nielsen (No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3) pairing atop the GT Daytona charts despite not winning a race yet this year. At 15 points clear (254-239) of closest rivals Jeroen Bleekemolen and Ben Keating (No. 33 Riley Motorsports-Team AMG Mercedes AMG-GT3), it’d take a poor finish in the 16-car GTD class to see them lose their grip.

Paul Miller Racing won this race last year, the first and thus far only IMSA win for the Lamborghini Huracán GT3 in the hands of Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow, but its post-qualifying technical violation has all but killed any championship hopes here.

Elsewhere Patrick Long is back alongside Daniel Morad in Alegra Motorsports’ No. 28 Porsche 911 GT3 R, as he was at Lime Rock, while the WeatherTech team continues with its Porsche for a second straight race, 3GT Racing keeps its revised Road America lineups, Michael Shank Racing keeps its revised Road America liveries (albeit with a new frame needed to replace the damaged No. 93 Acura NSX GT3 after accident) and Lone Star Racing continues with its Mercedes-AMG GT3, hoping to start its second race after being unable to with various mechanical niggles at Road America.

Photo courtesy of IMSA

“The layout at VIR is an excellent track that makes you feel like you’re really driving somewhere when you’re going around,” explained Mike Skeen, one of Lone Star Racing’s drivers, in this week’s Continental Tire pre-race advance. “It feels like someone just meandered through some fields on a tractor to plan the layout. The result is a great combination of technical corners and flowing, high-speed sections with over 130 feet of elevation change.

“There is plenty of runoff area for the drivers to work with, but all of that beautiful grass proved to be an issue last year for many people that went off course and then had to pit to clean out the grill to avoid overheating. There are also many curbs that we have to use to improve lap times, but they can cause problems if taken too aggressively when the air pressures in our Continental tires are too low.”

Cautions are generally a rarity here with only eight total caution laps over the last three years. Additionally, Lime Rock went caution-free, so it’ll be interesting to see if that cleanliness keeps up.

OTHER NOTES

  • While Tequila Patron ESM with its Nissan Onroak DPi (Pipo Derani) and Team Penske with its Acura ARX-05 (Juan Pablo Montoya and Dane Cameron) have kicked off the IMSA driver market silly season, Mazda Motorsports’ John Doonan provided an update on the Mazda Team Joest status in this week’s Sportscar365 podcast, linked here.
  • In the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, a 31-car field heads to VIR for this weekend’s race as well. The GS class points standings are particularly tight with points leaders Dylan Murcott and Dillon Machavern just four points ahead of Cameron Cassels and Trent Hindman, and eight clear of Marc Miller and Till Bechtolsheimer. Miller, who with Danny Burkett took CJ Wilson Racing’s first GS win at this race last year, and his new teammate will have a revised Andy Blackmore Designs livery this weekend with new partner Unit Nutrition adorning the team’s No. 33 Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
  • Military appreciation at race tracks is always a good thing, and will be part of this weekend at VIR. Operation Motorsport is partnering with the USO of North Carolina this weekend at the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, with the organization hosting 11 wounded soldiers and veterans from the surrounding Raleigh, Ft. Bragg area and embedding them within a few teams so that they can be part of a motorsports experience as a recovery activity. The organization’s website is linked here.

PWC: VIR’s SprintX weekend packs intensity, drama, surprises

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The Pirelli World Challenge weekend at VIRginia International Raceway saw the GT and GTS divisions run their first SprintX event of the season, which brought with it its own unique set of circumstances and additional elements beyond the standard sprint races that have been the staple of PWC events otherwise.

Breaking it down to just the overall winners of Saturday and Sunday’s races, Daniel Mancinelli and Andrea Montermini in their No. 31 TR3 Racing Ferrari 488 GT3 on Saturday and Ryan Dalziel and Daniel Morad in their No. 2 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 on Sunday, limits a further explanation of how they got there.

On Saturday, Mike Skeen scored pole in what was meant to be a pro/am GT entry for McCann Racing in the team’s No. 82 Audi R8 LMS with co-driver and team principal Mike McCann. McCann fell under the weather, which left it to Atlanta native and Audi veteran Andrew Davis to fill-in, and thus bump the car up to a pro/pro classification.

Skeen led away early but ran wide through the esses when trying to lap a slower car, just before making his scheduled pit stop to change over to Davis. That promoted to the No. 2 car of Morad and Dalziel to the lead, with Dalziel handing off the car to the Canadian for the finish.

That car, however, was one of seven then adjudged by PWC to have not met the 60-second minimum total pit lane delta time on the mandatory pit stop – coming up fractionally short – and would need to serve a drive-through penalty as a result. This 60-second minimum was in addition to pro/pro cars also having a 30-second minimum pit stop time for the driver change, as a result of competitor feedback, to ensure drivers would leave safely with their belts done up.

Dalziel told the live stream of the race he didn’t think that many cars could all be in violation. Others besides the No. 2 car that were dinged included the No. 58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R of Patrick Long and Jörg Burgmeister, the No. 61 R. Ferri Motorsport Ferrari 488 GT3 of Alex Riberas and Kyle Marcelli and the No. 3 Cadillac Racing Cadillac ATV-V.R. of Johnny O’Connell and Ricky Taylor.

Mancinelli and Montermini had had their own controversial moment earlier in the race when Mancinelli collided with Pierre Kaffer’s No. 4 Magnus Racing Audi, knocking Kaffer off the road and out of the race, and leading to this in-typical-Magnus-form type of tweet to describe the contact. The incident was deemed to have no further action taken.

Despite Skeen’s earlier spin, the raft of penalties brought that car back within shouting distance, but Davis was unable to get around Montermini. In his 300th career race, the ex-Formula 1 driver who managed to run for the trio of mid-1990s backmarker teams Simtek, Pacific and Forti and has since raced in selected IndyCar events before becoming a Ferrari GT veteran, Montermini got a win in PWC.

“I was racing in the Blancpain Series in Europe,” said Montermini. “Luckily, I was called by the guys and I was so happy to be back here in the U.S. It’s like a second home to me.  I had some great days here in the past. I had a good feeling about the racing since I jumped on the track Thursday. Everybody is so nice and professional, and it’s so competitive. To be honest, this is the kind of racing you can’t find in Europe.”

The pro/am winner on the road was Laurens Vanthoor and James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG Racing Porsche 911 GT3 R, but that car was later docked 40 seconds post-race for passing under a yellow, dropping it from third overall down to 10th. Wright Motorsports was the beneficiary with Jan Heylen and Michael Schein picking up the spoils, moving into third overall in their No. 16 Porsche.

Post-race, rumors percolated there might be further changes coming to the Race 1 results beyond the Vanthoor/Sofronas penalty, but the results were upheld following a series audit.

Sunday’s race was a far more straightforward affair and provided a nice bit of redemption for the No. 2 CRP team of Morad and Dalziel, Morad having done the lion’s share of work on Sunday in his second major U.S. sports car victory of 2017 (also co-drove winning class entry at Rolex 24 at Daytona). In 10th overall, another Mercedes took the pro/am class win with Jeroen Bleekemolen reuniting with longtime co-driver Tim Pappas at Black Swan Racing.

Pro/pro entries from K-PAX Racing (No. 9 McLaren 650S GT3, Alvaro Parente and Ben Barnicoat) and Cadillac Racing (No. 8 Cadillac ATS-V.R, Michael Cooper and Jordan Taylor) completed the overall podium in second and third.

This race ended under caution following a heavy accident that Stefan Johansson sustained in his No. 7 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 458 GT3 after contact with a GTS class entry, although Johansson was fortunate to exit his car.

The takeaway from the weekend in SprintX was that there were a lot of new elements to adjust to. Certainly, the deep grid of more than 30 cars from GT, GT Cup and GTS – and most of the lineups populating them – only enhanced the caliber of the grid.

Where PWC generally excels is in its simplicity.  If there was one easy thing to note about VIR, it’s that simplicity would not be the one word used to describe the pair of headlining races. PWC continues to work hard to grow in stature as a championship in coordination with the SRO, but also must work to ensure it continues to satisfy its existing customer base – both in the paddock and among fans.

SPRINT X RACE 1 RESULTS
SPRINT X RACE 2 RESULTS

The separate GTS races saw Nico Jamin continue his recent torrid run of form, as the Frenchman seems to step into different cars with ease and win in all of them. Jamin, who hadn’t even seen the ANSA Motorsports KTM X-BOW GT4 he’d be racing until he arrived, promptly won both races overall. In his last six combined race starts, Jamin has won five of them – he won both IMSA Prototype Challenge presented by Mazda races in an LMP3 Ligier JS P3 at Sebring, he won his first Indy Lights race in his No. 27 Synova Dallara IL-15 Mazda for Andretti Autosport at Barber last week, and now he has won two PWC races in this class. Jeff Courtney was second in his No. 99 JCR Motorsports Maserati GT4 in both races, as well.

SprintX wasn’t alone in having post-race penalties applied. After a contentious battle for third in race two, Ian James and Panoz’s potential first podium for the new Esperante Avezzano went away post-race, as James was docked one position by the stewards following contact with Lawson Aschenbach. Aschenbach took third in the new Blackdog Speed Shop Chevrolet Camaro GT4, which made its first permanent road course starts this weekend after debuting on a street course at St. Petersburg.

GTS RACE 1 RESULTS
GTS RACE 2 RESULTS

Touring Car also kicked off its season with a pair of races, and more than 50 cars on the grid between its three classes (TC, TCA, TCB). Paul Holton took a well-judged debut win for C360R’s new Audi RS 3 LMS in TC on Saturday with Matthew Fassnacht (TCA, Mazda MX-5) and Canaan O’Connell (TCB, Chevrolet Sonic) took class wins. Fassnacht doubled up on Sunday with Greg Liefooghe (TC, BMW M235R) and Travis Washay (TCB, MINI Cooper) winning class.

TC driver Jason Fichter survived a massive accident in Saturday’s race in his Honda Accord for Shea Racing (video here), but walked off under his own power – a testament to the strength of the car he was in.

TOURING CAR RACE 1 RESULTS
TOURING CAR RACE 2 RESULTS

The full results page for the weekend is linked here. PWC resumes after a several-week break at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park May 20-21, as part of a back-to-back for SprintX there and at Lime Rock Park a week later.

PWC: 36 SprintX cars, lineups pack variety, diversity at VIR

Photo: PWC
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No less than 36 cars are set to compete in the first of five Pirelli World Challenge SprintX weekends, this weekend at VIRginia International Raceway.

Breaking down those 36 cars, they’re split this way:

  • 12 GT Pro/Pro
  • 16 GT Pro/Am
  • 1 GT Am/Am
  • 1 GT Cup Pro/Am
  • 1 GT Cup Am/Am
  • 2 GTS Pro/Am
  • 3 GTS Am/Am

And that’s before you get to the rest of the entry list: GTS: 9; GTSA: 10; TC: 32; TCA: 15; TCB: 8.

In sports car racing, the easiest way to get hooked is to embrace the variety and diversity of machinery first and ask questions about how complex it is later.

So with that in mind, here’s a breakdown of the GT SprintX entries (which themselves are split between three classes, but we’ll set that aside for a minute) and their respective lineups.

Cadillac Racing, Cadillac ATS-V.R

3 – Johnny O’Connell/Jordan or Ricky Taylor
8 – Michael Cooper/Jordan or Ricky Taylor

The fully professional Cadillac lineups give the Taylor brothers a chance to dip their feet back into Pirelli World Challenge competition alongside the team’s full-season drivers. That being said, it’ll be weird to see Jordan and Ricky racing against each other again, and Cadillac still hasn’t confirmed which brother goes where.

Magnus Racing, Audi R8 LMS

4 – Pierre Kaffer/Spencer Pumpelly (Kaffer misses Lime Rock)
44 – John Potter/Marco Seefried (Seefried misses Lime Rock)

For Magnus Racing, a return to the mini-endurance racing with pit stops could see the team with a slight advantage over those PWC-only teams in recent years. Kaffer and Pumpelly is as good a lineup as you’ll find on the grid while Potter and Seefried know each other’s nuances well.

K-PAX Racing, McLaren 650S GT3

6 – Bryan Sellers/Jonny Kane
9 – Alvaro Parente/Ben Barnicoat
98 – Mike Hedlund/Michael Lewis

With Strakka Racing coming to McLaren, Jonny Kane is the ace of reckoning added here with Sellers. Meanwhile Parente has the talented but inexperienced McLaren GT junior driver Barnicoat alongside; Hedlund and Lewis provide a very solid all-American duo.

GMG Racing, Porsche 911 GT3 R

14 – James Sofronas/Laurens Vanthoor (VIR and CTMP)
14 – James Sofronas/Matt Halliday (Lime Rock, Utah and COTA)

Calvert Dynamics, Porsche 911 GT3 R

77 – Alec Udell/Preston Calvert (partnership with GMG)

In simple terms, Sofronas’ team is one that should benefit from the SprintX format. Porsche places factory driver Vanthoor in when available while Halliday is a team veteran. Udell and Calvert will share a Calvert Dynamics entry prepared by GMG, which combines the two top teams from the series’ GT Cup class.

Wright Motorsports, Porsche 911 GT3 R

16 – Michael Schein/Jan Heylen
58 – Patrick Long/Joerg Bergmeister

Two solid lineups here for John Wright’s team. The iconic pairing of Long and Bergmeister is reunited in the team’s all-pro entry with Heylen and Schein one of the top pro/am entries.

RealTime Racing, Acura NSX GT3

43 – Ryan Eversley/Tom Dyer
93 – Peter Kox/Mark Wilkins

Wilkins and Dyer, the team’s SprintX additions, are underrated for a reason – they’re solid, quiet, capable drivers who aren’t flashy but usually get the job done. But they’re going to have to rise up against some of the other pros competing, especially when Acura’s four full-season drivers in IMSA aren’t added here.

Bentley Team Absolute, Bentley Continental GT3

78 – Yufeng Luo/Alexandre Imperatori (VIR and CTMP)
88 – Adderly Fong/Vincent Abril

Past Blancpain GT Series champion Abril is an excellent addition to this young lineup, and he and Fong will be the car to watch versus the pro/am No. 78 car.

CRP Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3

2 – Ryan Dalziel/Daniel Morad

“Razzle Dazzle” and “State of Moradness” combine for one of the coolest nickname and driver pairings on the grid. The Canadian should learn the Mercedes quickly and combined with the rapid Scot who’s based in Florida, this team should excel.

TR3 Racing, Ferrari 488 GT3

31 – Daniel Mancinell/Andrea Montermini

Mancinelli has raised more than a few eyebrows in his first two weekends in the series, but has the pace to star. Ferrari GT veteran Montermini is a nice counterbalance.

R. Ferri Motorsport, Ferrari 488 GT3

61 – Alex Riberas/Kyle Marcelli

Remo Ferri’s entry is one of the best ones out there, with two very talented drivers sharing the team’s Ferrari 488 in the SprintX races. Marcelli’s vastly experienced for his still tender age of 27; Riberas is a rising GT star in sports car racing.

Scuderia Corsa, Ferrari 458 GT3

7 – Martin Fuentes/Stefan Johansson

Giacomo Mattioli doesn’t usually enter something unless he thinks he can win, and this pro/am lineup of last year’s GTA champ (Fuentes) and Ferrari veteran and team sporting director Johansson, is one of the best in this category.

M1 GT Racing, Audi R8 LMS

23 – David Ostella/James Dayson

Pair of Mazda Road to Indy veterans-turned-sports car Canadians share a car that will be consistent if not the outright fastest among pro/am entries.

MOMO NGT Motorsport, Ferrari 458 GT3

30 – Henrique Cisneros/TBA

Cisneros usually assembles a good effort, and the identity of his co-driver will be interesting.

Black Swan Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3

54 – Tim Pappas/Jeroen Bleekemolen

The band has come back together for the past GTC champions of American Le Mans Series. Bleekemolen remains rapid as ever; he and Pappas have gelled well before.

DXDT Racing, Mercedes-AMG GT3

63 – Aaron Povoledo/David Askew

Team’s strength comes from its 2016 SprintX experience, something many others don’t have.

Always Evolving Racing/AIM Autosport, Nissan GT-R NISMO GT3

75 – Ricardo Sanchez/Frankie Montecalvo

There’s a lot of newness for the AE/AIM/Nissan combo including a new driver lineup and new 2017 car. While it’s unfortunate past Nissan winners Bryan Heitkotter and James Davison aren’t here, young guns Sanchez and Montecalvo have potential in spades.

McCann Racing, Audi R8 LMS

82 – Mike Skeen/Michael McCann

This SprintX-only, pro/am entry could provide an avenue for “ginger stig” Skeen to live up to his lanky frame and produce some typical giant-killing performances.

MCC Motorsports, Mercedes-AMG GT3

92 – Alexandre Negrao/Alexandre Negrao Sr.

Little known here about this entry, other than it’s another Mercedes that features a past GP2 veteran in Negrao.

TRG, Aston Martin V12 Vantage GT3

007 – Kris Wilson/Drew Regitz

Wilson has been capable of winning races with TRG before but it’s hard to see this aging car and the lone am-am labeled driver lineup doing much of that here. That said, in the hands of James Davison, it does still have some speed left.

Dream Racing Competition, Lamborghini Huracán GT3

07 – Cedric Sbirrazzuoli/Lawrence DeGeorge

The pairing has driven together in Lamborghini Blancpain Super Trofeo North America, the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship and now PWC SprintX. Sbirrazzuoli’s got the speed here between this duo.

DIME Racing, Lamborghini Huracán GT3 (First Alternate)

111 – Jonathan Summerton/Michael Macs

Past Atlantic series race winner Summerton leads this lineup, although whether he’ll get a chance to race depends on one of the primary entries having a pre-race issue that promotes the first alternate into the field.

REST OF THE FIELD

There are also seven additional entries for the first SprintX race of the season, with two GT Cup and five GTS entries. Those cars may interfere with the GT competitors but will have their own interesting race within the race, as well.

Fisichella: Placed on probation by day, DJing in Austin by night

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Giancarlo Fisichella’s had a fun last 24 hours in Austin.

The Formula 1 veteran who now shares the No. 62 Risi Competizione Ferrari 488 GTE with Toni Vilander was in the spotlight for the wrong reasons this morning via an IMSA release, but for good, fun reasons last night.

A post-race altercation between Fisichella and the No. 912 Porsche, driven by Earl Bamber, at the most recent IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship round at VIRginia International Raceway at the end of August, now sees the Italian placed on probation for the final two rounds of the season at Circuit of The Americas this weekend and Road Atlanta for Petit Le Mans in October.

Fisichella and Bamber were battling over third in the GT Le Mans class before Bamber hit and knocked Fisichella off course. A less than pleased Fisichella reportedly slammed the side of the No. 912 car in pit lane after the race.

Here’s IMSA’s release confirming the probation:

No. 62 driver Giancarlo Fisichella has been placed on probation for the next two IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship events for his post-race on-track conduct in the Aug. 28 race at VIRginia International Raceway.

Fisichella was determined to have violated Rule 48.4 (unjustifiable risk) of the 2016 IMSA Sporting Regulations & Series Supplementary Regulations for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.

The bright side for Fisichella is that in his side gig – his role as “DJ Fisico” (yes, he’s really a DJ, with more info here from a Sportscar365 Q&A last year) – he played at Party on POP in Austin last night.

See a few tweets below from the @IMSA account:

IMSA: CJ Wilson Racing, HART Honda win crazy, wet CTSC race at VIR

Photo courtesy of IMSA
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Strategic timing and masterstrokes of driving in treacherous, rainy conditions helped drive the first victories of the season for CJ Wilson Racing and HART (Honda of America Racing Team), respectively, in the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge GS and ST classes at VIRginia International Raceway.

The No. 33 ONE Capital/Motor Oil Matters Porsche GT4 Cayman Clubsport pair of Danny Burkett and Marc Miller finally broke through for an elusive first victory, after coming up close on so many other occasions this year – notably at Watkins Glen.

Burkett, the young Canadian, made an early smart call to be first into the pits for rain tires – a key decision when a few minutes later, the skies opened and VIR turned from sunny and clear to swampy, wet and miserable, with flooding occurring a bit later.

Then when the race resumed after nearly an hour of red flag conditions, the No. 33 Porsche pitted along with fellow GS class contenders the Nos. 15 and 76 Ford Shelby GT350R-C from Multimatic Motorsports and Compass360 Racing, respectively. CJWR’s pit stops have been under the microscope this year but a flawless stop occurred there to switch from Burkett to Miller.

Miller then seized the momentum on the final restart, passing Billy Johnson (co-drove with Scott Maxwell) in the No. 15 Ford for the lead after Turns 1 and 2.

Miller held on to the finish and won by 4.509 seconds over Johnson, who did well to hold off a hard-charging Trent Hindman (Cameron Cassels co-driver) in the No. 12 Bodymotion Racing Porsche for second.

While Miller and CJWR have won in Continental Tire action before – CJWR was ST class champions a year ago – this marked both their first wins in GS, and Burkett’s first win in the series.

“Pure elation! This is awesome! It’s been such a long time coming. To finally do it… it’s almost surreal at this point. We had to come out here and do this. We had a fantastic race,” Burkett told IMSA Radio’s Shea Adam.

Miller, who had a birthday on August 24, added, to IMSA Radio’s Jim Roller, “Man I just didn’t want to slide off the track. Car placement was so important. This feels so good!”

In ST, Ryan Eversley and co-driver Chad Gilsinger put on a wet-weather driving clinic in the No. 93 HART Honda Civic Si for their first win since Road America last year.

Gilsinger got out to the lead early in the race and led the majority of his stint, Eversley doing the rest once he took over in the afternoon after pit stops and driver changes were completed. Eversley, ultimately, won by 10.417 seconds over good friend Eric Foss (co-drove with Jeff Mosing) in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman.

“I did it because my team is awesome,” Eversley told Adam. “I didn’t lose any spots in the pits. When I got in the car everything was perfect. Chad Gilsinger, you should talk to more. He made the right choice to go to rains. If he would have been finishing, he would have done the same thing. HART, Honda Racing HPD. I’m blown away.”

Said the aforementioned Gilsinger to Roller, “Usually we don’t do well here. We were hoping it would rain. The first rain isn’t what we wanted. Nobody wanted that, especially on slicks. But we fought through and got to the pits in time, and the conditions suited our car quite well.”

Despite the heavy rain, lightning in the area and wet conditions in the pits (see below), there were no major accidents of note in the two-hour, 30-minute race.

The Wilson pair’s win closes them, unofficially, to 20 points of Maxwell and Johnson for the GS points lead, while Porsche and Ford are tied for the Manufacturer’s Lead.

In ST, Spencer Pumpelly and Nick Galante still lead the points by seven in their No. 17 Rennsport One Porsche Cayman, after a 14th place finish. Defending class champions Chad McCumbee and Stevan McAleer finished seventh in the No. 25 Freedom Autosport Mazda MX-5 and closed that gap.

The series resumes Friday, Sept. 16, at Circuit of The Americas for the second-to-last race of the year.