The Michelin Pilot Challenge season held its season finale on Friday at the Road Atlanta circuit, and Turner Motorsport brought home a win with the #95 M4 GT4 driven by Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern. It was the last race in the series for the F82 generation M4 GT4, which will be replaced by the new G82 generation M4 GT4 in the 2023 season.
The #95 car was fast from the get-go, with Auberlen setting the fastest time in the first practice session and Machavern putting it on the GS class pole for the race. Sean Quinlan also had a strong qualifying session, putting the #43 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 into eighth. Once the race got underway, Machavern was passed on the first lap by Tom Dyer in his Porsche, but Machavern fought his way back and got by the Porsche about thirty minutes into the race, after making contact with Dyer when he made an overly aggressive move to defend.
The Turner crew did a great job in the pits with fast stops for the #95, and Auberlen controlled the last half of the race to take the win, despite a brief challenge from Billy Johnson in his Ford Mustang after the races only caution period bunched the cars up. The #43 car of Quinlan and Greg Liefooghe finished in tenth. The #96 car of Robby Foley and Vin Barletta came into the race in third place in the standings, but had a rough day, with Barletta getting hit twice, which caused suspension damaged that forced the car to retire after 35 laps.
The win for Auberlen and Machavern was a great way to end the season and a great way to send off the F82 M4 GT4, which had two wins, four podium finishes, and ten top-fives in the season. Auberlen and Machavern ended up third in the GS class driver’s championship, after nearly winning the championship last year. “It was a little bit rocky for sure,” said Machavern. “We had some ups and downs, kind of contrary to the previous season where everything seemed to go pretty smoothly. The Turner guys always do a great job. It wasn’t for a lack of effort.”
The championship was won by the Volt Racing Aston Martin team and drivers Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson. Hindman’s name may be familiar, as he won the championship in an E92 M3 with Fall Line Motorsports several years ago.
The new Michelin Pilot Challenge season opens up on January 27th, which will also be the race debut of the new G82 generation M4 GT4.—David Haueter
[Photos courtesy LAT Images]