M8s finish first and third at VIR
Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi in the #25 Team RLL M8 GTE won the two-hour-forty-minute IMSA WeatherTech series race at Virginia International Raceway on August 19. Their teammates John Edwards and Jesse Krohn in car #24 finished third. It was the first ever win for the M8 GTE.
Both BMWs ran near the front early in the race. Jesse Krohn led for a time in car #24, but he fell back to fifth after the car’s final pit stop, regaining positions to finish on the podium at the end of the race. The #25 car fought its way back after a drive-through penalty. After a stop during the only caution period in the race the team kept Sims out until he stopped with just 24 minutes remaining in the race. At that point he held a 52-second edge over the second-place #3 Corvette piloted by Jan Magnussen. Sims returned to the track in the lead, and held off the Vette that Magnussen shared with Antonio Garcia, finishing 1.3 seconds ahead at the end. Not only was the win the first in worldwide competition for the M8 GTE, it was vindication for the #25 car’s near miss at Road America, where the class-leading De Phillippi had to park the car when he ran out of fuel with just two laps remaining in the race.
BMW NA motorsport manager Victor Leleu said, “The race demonstrated a flawless execution from the crew, engineers and drivers. Everyone has put their heart and soul into the M8 GTE program and we couldn’t be happier we were able to deliver the car its first-ever win today at VIR. The team has had to adapt to a lot of changes with this new program. We had a few challenging races this year but no one ever doubted the potential of the new car from day one. Even after the cruel result at the previous race at Road America, everybody felt strong and kept plugging away, knowing it was just a matter of time. Today is that day! I’m very proud we proved the worth of the all-new M8 GTE against the most competitive GT field in the world.”
The Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 with Bill Auberlen at the controls started third in GTD and moved up to lead the class by nineteen seconds. But a broken rear suspension mount that developed after Robby Foley took over from Auberlen dropped the car to tenth in class at the end of the race. The GTD win went to Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli in the #14 Lexus RC F GT3.
BimmerWorld duo extends points lead
In the Saturday Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race Nick Galante and Devin Jones in the #81 BimmerWorld 328i extended their Street Tuner class points lead with a second-place finish. They crossed the line fourth in class, but were promoted to third when the # 37 Mini shared by Nate Norenberg and Derek Jones, which had finished just ahead of the BMW, was moved back to fourth because of a time penalty. The BMW was then moved up to second when the #52 Mini driven by Colin Mullan and Mark Pombo that had crossed the finish line first was moved to last in class when a post-race inspection indicated that the car exceeded the maximum boost pressure. Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra in the #73 Mini, who are second in points to Galante and Jones, were classified third at the end of the race. Max Faulkner and Jason Rabe in the #21 Porsche Cayman were first, scoring their first Street Tuner class win.
In the Grand sport class the best finishing BMW was the seventh place Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 driven by Greg Liefooghe and Ari Balogh. The overall and GS wins went to Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb in the #46 Team TGM Mercedes AMG.
There are two races remaining in the IMSA season. The series runs again at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on September 8 and 9 and ends at Road Atlanta on October 12 and 13.