The #39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 GT4 with Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie took home the GS win in the Michelin Pilot Challenge race from Sebring.
McQuirre, who started the race from third did a good job early in the race to move the car to the fore of the pack. After an hour at the wheel, he handed the car over to his teammate, Westphal. Westphal then led the field back to green after the final Full Course Yellow and held the lead for the final thirty minutes to take home the win.
“We knew we had to manage tyres here, so we worked really hard on the first couple of days and it all came together. The car was flawless in the race!” said Westphal after the race.
Second place was claimed by the #82 BimmerWold Racing BMW M4 GT4. James Clay did the first stint, completing 19 laps, before handing it over to Devin Jones. Jones made a great pass into Turn 17 on the #69 Kohr Motorsport Ford Mustang GT4 wit20 minutes to go to find third. He then moved his way past an ailing #69 Motorsports in Action McLaren 570s GT4 for second.
That #69 McLaren of Jesse Lazare and Corey Fergus claimed the final podium spot. Fergus enjoyed a strong first stint and moved the car up to fourth position from where he started the race in eighth. A final pitstop under Full Course Yellow moved the car to second overall but Lazare would soon begin to struggle for pace.
Lazare had to deal with a braking issue after mounting a challenge for the lead. It left the Canadian about a second per lap slower than the cars around him, but Lazare managed to defend the podium from a hard-charging #35 Riley Motorsports Mercedes AMG GT4. That third place finish for Lazare and Fergus means they are now tied for the lead in the championship after the team secured its second podium finish in a row to start the season.
“It was a great way to start the season, which is a great place to be after two races. We were very smart about how we dealt with the race today and took points on ahead of Mid-Ohio. Jesse and I are in a good position,” Fergus told DSC after the race.
“Everything was great except the brakes,” added Lazare. “Due to the new Michelin tyre, in my opinion, we have so much grip that we come out of the corners faster and therefore go into corners faster, which means it’s like doing qualifying laps all the time during the races. The brakes had a hard time keeping up with that!
“It was a strangely similar race to Daytona, there we were running out of fuel at the end, here we were running out of brakes! I knew I had more top speed than the Mercedes behind, so even if he got real close I knew I could keep him behind. I knew the BMW was going to pass me, so I didn’t fight, I let him go and kept third place at the end!”
In TCR Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock in the #37 LA Honda World Civic TCR took home the win. O’Gorman was virtually unchallenged for his dash to the finish after taking the car over, and managed his fuel perfectly, running out on the cool down lap. As a result, Blackstock and O’Gorman extend their championship lead in TCR.
The #17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR ended the race second. Britt Casey Jr. and Mikey Taylor started their race from pole position and did well to stay out of trouble and secure a top-two finish.
Third in the class was the #89 HART Honda Civic TCR of Chad Gilsinger and Ryan Eversley. A solid return to the MPC following the team’s efforts last year in the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
Hyundai also had a relatively good day with its #21 Bryan Hereto Autosport Veloster N coming home in fourth. The car struggled on its debut in Daytona but two decent runs from the #21 crew of Mason Filippi and Harry Gottsacker actually means they are second in the championship standings, despite early season woes.