UPDATE: Tom Long didn’t complete his minimum drive time during the race. As a result the team was handed a post-race penalty and #09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin lost its second place finish.
This promoted the #69 Motorsports In Action McLaren to second and the #46 Team TGM Mercedes to third.
Sebastian Priaulx, in his North American racing debut, and Austin Cindric in the #15 Multimatic Ford Mustang won the final Michelin Pilot Challenge race of the season in Road Atlanta.
“It’s unbelievable, I can’t believe it, I thought we would be quick but defiantly not a win it’s amazing to win. Ford Performance did a great job to give us a car that could win,” Priaulx said.
Seb Priaulx — son of former Ford WEC driver and multiple World Touring Car Champion Andy Priaulx — started the race in second and kept the car within striking distance of the pole-sitting #09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage.
Four Full Course Yellows broke up the race and left little room for extended periods of green flag running, setting up a race where track position was largely decided by the executions of pitstops. No one was able to consistently challenge the #15 Mustang and #09 Aston Martin on pace, however.
The #15 Mustang was able to stay near the sharp end of the field with clean stops — setting up Cindric to take full-advantage of the race’s final restart. With less than half an hour to run, Cindric moved past the #99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin and into the lead of the race.
Three seconds behind the #15 Mustang at the chequered flag was the aforementioned #09 Aston Martin of Akhil Rabindra and Tom Long. The #09 Aston — which had been at the front of the field — had a slow final pitstop dropping Long down to 15th in class. The Aston Martin had pace, though, as Long scythed through the field and moved the car up to second.
Cindric was able to match the speed of Long and never allowed the gap between first and second to dip below three seconds.
Rounding out the GS podium was the #69 Motorsports In Action McLaren 570s. At one point in the season, Jesse Lazare and Corey Fergus looked like title contenders, but streaks of woeful luck in the second half of the season dented the Canadian team’s chances of a championship.
A podium finish here will still leave the team looking back at races at Virginia International Raceway and Road America as ones that got away from them, though.
The #39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 of Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal finished off the lead lap but had a high enough advantage in the points to secure the driver’s championship. Meanwhile, Mercedes-AMG with three wins on the season took home the manufacture’s championship in GS.
In TCR, the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster N of Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis took home the win.
With this win, Lewis and Wilkins claimed the driver’s championship in TCR for themselves and the Hyundai Veloster N in its debut season.
“Thank you to Hyundai for building such a fast car, all weekend long we could turn fast laps. It was a little bit stressful but we did it!” Lewis exclaimed with relief after getting out of the car. “The whole team executed. It’s such a great feeling were going to party hard tonight,” Lewis added.
The #17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS of Mike Taylor and Britt Casey Jr. ended the race in second. Their podium finish helped Audi secure the manufacture’s championship in TCR. Ending the day in third was the #23 FAST MD Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR of James Vance and Nick Galante.
Image courtesy of IMSA