Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 finished fourth overall and first in the GTD class in the 100-minute IMSA WeatherTech Series race for GT cars on the roval at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The win, Auberlen’s 62nd in IMSA competition, broke the record that he had set at VIR in August.
Car #96 finished just behind the Team RLL M8 GTEs. John Edwards and Jesse Krohn finished second overall and second in class in car #24, while Connor De Phillippi and Bruno Spengler finished third in #25; it was Team RLL’s fifth consecutive trip to the IMSA podium. The race started in heavy rain. Krohn passed the pole-sitting #3 Corvette C8.R of Jordan Taylor for the lead on the fourth lap and pitted under an early yellow for a driver change. Edwards took over and held on to the position until Taylor’s co-driver Antonio Garcia passed him to take the lead for good with about 25 minutes remaining in the race. The Vette and the two BMWs were the only finishers in GTLM. Both Porsches went out early in separate incidents, and Tommy Milner in the #4 Corvette crashed heavily with suspension failure, bringing out a full-course yellow with just ten minutes remaining. Garcia in the #3 Corvette managed to hold off Edwards when racing resumed with just five minutes remaining, winning by a scant 1.47-second margin. While the rain had abated, the track remained wet for the entire event.
Edwards said, “Jesse was super in the opening laps in very sketchy conditions. Obviously, it was bittersweet to finish second after leading for so long, but ultimately, we did not have the pace the Corvette did over a full stint. Racing on such a challenging track in a deluge of rain, we can be pleased to have both cars finish with no scratches”
While Auberlen lost the substantial edge he had built up before the caution period, he held on for the GTD win, holding off Patrick Long in the #16 Porsche 911 GT3 that he shared with Ryan Hardwick.
IMSA racing resumes next weekend with the ten-hour Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta. The prototypes will rejoin the GT cars there, and the Michelin Pilot Series will run a two-hour race on Friday.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW NA.]