The Michelin Pilot Challenge championship at Road America this past weekend was the second of just two four-hour races on the schedule (the other being Daytona), but with the way some of the drivers were going out you would think it was a half-hour sprint race. The first half of the race witnessed some overly aggressive driving that drew the ire of IMSA officials as they reminded drivers of the standards expected when behind the wheel and doled out penalties.
Through the race, the Stephen Cameron Racing crew made the right calls on strategy and pit stops and a strong opening stint by Sean Quinlan put them in contention when pro driver Greg Liefooghe got in the car for the closing stages of the race. Liefooghe had some great battles with some of the other competitors in the GS class field in the final hour and worked his way up into second behind the winning Mercedes to give the team their first win of the season.
The podium was a long time coming for a team and drivers that have won championships with the M4 GT4 in the SRO series. “This season in IMSA had been somewhat rough, so it was great to be back at the front,” said Quinlan on social media. “We ran a good strategy during the four-hour race and the M4 GT4 was fast. The late yellow made for a mad dash at the finish, and while we would have loved to finish in the top spot, P2 was a solid result. My first IMSA podium!” The team’s previous best finish was a fifth place at Sebring back in March.
The Turner Motorsport BMWs had some issues in the race, with the #95 M4 GT4 of Dillon Machavern and Bill Auberlen experiencing some radio issues. They ended up in seventh after Auberlen was caught out a bit and lost positions in the final laps after a late race caution period. The #96 M4 GT4 of Robby Foley and Vin Barletta finished in twelfth.
The Michelin Pilot Challenge series has two races to go, at VIR in late August and at Road Atlanta in late September. Despite some successes this year, none of the BMWs are in a hunt for a championship. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy LAT IMAGES]