Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 scored their fourth consecutive podium finish in the GTD class in the two-hour-forty-minute IMSA WeatherTech Series race at Road America, while the BMW Team RLL M8 GTEs had another difficult race weekend despite their improved pace. The entire race was run under the green flag.
Foley started #96 sixth on the grid. He ran the first stint, while Auberlen ran the last two, just as he had at Lime Rock two weeks earlier. The car ran in the top five for the entire distance, with Auberlen moving up to third with twenty minutes remaining in the race. The class win went to Matt Campbell and Zach Robison in the Pfaff Motorsport Porsche; it was their second straight win. The podium finish enabled Auberlen and Foley to hold on to second in drivers’ points going into the next race.
Team principal Will Turner said, “When we realized that we did not have the fastest car coming in here, we asked ourselves what our strategy would be. We would not take any big risks and stick to textbook racing to improve our odds for a good finish. We actually did have a top five car as far as speed goes. The strength of Robby Foley’s first stint, followed by awesome Bill Auberlen, Don Salama’s strategy and the whole crew making some very precise pit stops got us on the podium today.”
Turner came to Road America directly from the Los Angeles premiere of The Art of Racing in the Rain. The film, based on Garth Stein’s novel and starring Milo Ventimiglia, Amanda Seyfried, and Kevin Costner as the voice of Enzo, the dog who narrates the story, features the Turner team’s M4 GT4. The movie will be in theaters beginning August 9, but you can find an in-depth story about the car used for filming in the February 2019 issue of Roundel.
The Team RLL M8 GTEs were quick at Road America, with Tom Blomqvist qualifying #25 first and Jesse Krohn qualifying third in #24. But the cars were sent to the back of the eight-car GTLM grid because of ride height violations discovered in post-qualifying technical inspection. The cars were able to move up during the race, with #25, shared by Blomqvist and Connor De Phillippi, running second and John Edwards leading in #24. Unfortunately #24 fell back with grip issues and then developed brake problems that led to a four-lap stop for repairs. It fell to eighth, and remained there. Car #25 stayed in the hunt, but finished fifth.
Blomqvist said, “Very disappointing result because we had a quick car this weekend. We need to get on top of the issues and resolve them. The drivers and the crew are all giving it their best so it’s not for a lack of effort. We are just not getting the results so we need to look at ourselves and find out why.”
On the day before the WeatherTech Series race, the Michelin Pilot Series ran aA GT4s ran at Road America; Greg Liefooghe and Henry Schmitt in the #88 Stephen Cameron Racing car finished eleventh, while Ari Balogh and Seth Thomas in a second BimmerWorld M4 GT4 finished twentieth.
Both series run again at Virginia International Raceway on August 24–25.—Brian Morgan
[M6 GT3 and M8 GTE photos courtesy BMW NA, BimmerWorld M4 GT4 photo courtesy Brian Morgan.]