Bill Auberlen took over from Robby Foley with over an hour and forty-five minutes remaining in the two-hour-forty-minute WeatherTech Series race at Lime Rock Park, and stayed in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 for the duration of the race to finish third in the GTD class on what had to be one of the hottest ever race days at the track. The Team RLL M8 GTEs had a difficult race, finishing seventh and eighth in the GTLM class.
Foley had qualified the Turner car fourth on the grid; he ran as high as third on his stint. Auberlen ran fourth through much of his stint in a pack of cars contesting third through sixth. He closed on the third place Mercedes-AMG GT3 driven by Jeroen Bleekemolen late in the race, found his way by and motored away, keeping Patrick Long in the #73 Porsche at bay in the waning laps. It was the third consecutive podium finish for the Turner team, who were coming off a win at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
Auberlen said, “At Lime Rock with the BMW M6 GT3, this podium is like a victory for us. It is now on to Road America. I think the car is going to love it there. Hopefully, it will be a little cooler there because with how hot it was today in the car, during my double stint I was just counting the seconds to when I could get into an air-conditioned room.”
Connor DePhillippi in the #25 Team RLL M8 GTE that he shared with Tom Blomqvist ran third behind the leading Porsches early in the race. He pitted early to hand off to Blomqvist, who had never run at Lime Rock before. The car stayed in the hunt, running fifth much of the way. De Phillippi got back into the car for the final stint, falling back to seventh when the team had to make a late stop for tires. The #24 M8 GTE struggled from the beginning; when Edwards got out of the car on an early pit stop he told the TV commentator that he was experiencing understeer. Krohn took over, and Edwards got back into the car for the final stint, but neither driver could get the car back into contention. There was no margin for error at Lime Rock; the entire race was run under the green flag, so catching up after falling back was very difficult.
The races for the win in both classes were dramatic; Richard Westbrook in the #67 Ford GT that he shared with Ryan Briscoe came back from a late-race tire stop to end Porsche’s five-race win streak, getting by Earl Bamber in the #912 Porsche with just over six minutes remaining and holding on for the win. The battle for the win in the GTD class was even closer; Dennis Olsen in the #9 Pfaff Motorsports Porsche that he shared with Zach Robichon was running on the tail of Mario Farnbacher in the leading #86 Acura NSX when an opportunity to pass in traffic came up with just five minutes remaining. Olsen took the lead, finishing just .010 seconds ahead of Farnbacher as the Porsche pilot kept the car in the lead despite a last-lap puncture.
BimmerWorld M4 GT4 finishes fourth in Michelin Pilot Series
James Clay and Devin Jones in the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 finished fourth overall and fourth in the Grand Sport class in the two-hour Saturday morning Michelin Pilot Series race at Lime Rock. Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsport M4 GT4 finished tenth in class.
Clay started the #82 car fourteenth on the grid and moved up on his stint. Jones continued to move up on his stint, finding his way up to fourth. Even after the single caution period just over a half-hour before the end, he was unable to get close enough to the leading trio of cars to battle for a podium finish. Auberlen had qualified the Turner car fourth; he ran from fourth to sixth in the early going, handing off to Foley at about 45 minutes into the race. Foley was running fifth on his stint, and looked like he could move up further, but he had to pit with a cut left rear tire. After that he found his way into tenth, but was unable to move further up in the pack.
The win went to Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb in the Team TGM #46 Mercedes-AMG GT4, who reprised their 2018 Lime Rock win. They finished just .377 seconds ahead of Jeff Westphal in the Audi R8 GT4 that he shared with Tyler McQuarrie. After Lime Rock Clay and Jones are a scant three points behind Westphal and McQuarrie in drivers’ points going into the race at Road America, where both the MPS and WeatherTech series run on August 2–4.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy Brian Morgan.]