John Edwards, Augusto Farfus, and Jesse Krohn in the #24 BM Team RLL M8 GTE finished third in the ten-hour IMSA WeatherTech Series Petit Le Mans race at Road Atlanta on October 17. The three drivers led the class often in the car, dominating the second half of the race. But as Farfus was pushed onto the grass by a prototype with 30 minutes left, he had to pit to remove grass from the grill. He returned to the circuit in fourth, behind the #912 Porsche, but when it crashed he was able to move up to third. He finished there behind the winning #911 Porsche driven by Fred Makowiecki, Nick Tandy, and Matt Campbell and the second-place #3 Corvette driven by Antonio Garcia, Jordan Taylor, and Nick Catsburg.
The second Team RLL M8 GTE, the #25 car driven by Connor De Phillippi, Bruno Spengler, and Colton Herta, did a long stint in the garage early in the race. It returned to the circuit to finish a distant sixth in class, 32 laps behind.
Farfus said, “There is not much to say. This was a very frustrating result. The win was in our pocket and I got run wide in the marbles and off the track. I so wanted to bring the victory to the team that worked so hard today.”
Bill Auberlen, Robby Foley, and Dillon Machavern in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 finished ninth in the GTD class after spending extra time in the pits for repairs.
On the Friday before the Petit Le Mans race, Robby Foley and Vin Barletta in the #96 Turner Motorsport M4 GT4 won the two-hour Michelin Pilot Challenge race. James Clay and Greg Liefooghe in the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 finished second just behind them.
More than half of the two-hour race was run under the caution flag because of numerous off-course excursions and contact incidents. The Turner team’s strategy moved Foley to the front; He was running back in the pack with about 45 minutes remaining when the team called him in for a stop, anticipating a full-course yellow. He made it in and out before the pits closed, gaining a significant advantage. He moved up to second under yellow, and moved into the lead after another caution period with about 27 minutes remaining. At that point Greg Liefooghe in the #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 that he shared with James Clay was third, Bill Auberlen was fourth in the #95 Turner car, also co-driven by Foley, and Dillon Machevern was ninth in the #80 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 that he shared with Nick Galante. Yet another yellow came out soon after the track went back to green.
When the track returned to green flag racing with about six minutes remaining, Foley led Mercedes racer Eric Foss, with Liefooghe third and Robin Liddell, on a charge in the #71 Camaro getting by Auberlen for fourth. As Liefooghe and Liddell moved up to second and third, Foss and Auberlen battled for fourth. Foss forced Auberlen onto the grass as they ran side-by-side; he recovered, but lost positions as a result. Foley held on for the win ahead of Liefooghe and Liddell. Auberlen finished tenth, and Machevern came across the line twelfth.
There are two IMSA events remaining in the season, including the October 31 – November 1 event at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, and the season finale at Sebring on November 11–14. The Michelin Pilot Challenge will run a two-hour race at each track, while the WeatherTech series will run for two hours and forty minutes at Laguna Seca and will close with the 12 Hours of Sebring, postponed from March, in the finale. After Petit Le Mans BMW is second to Chevrolet in manufacturers’ points, Edwards and Krohn are third in drivers’ points, and Spengler and DePhillippi are fourth in drivers’ points.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy BMW NA and BMW Motorsport.]