The second half of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season officially started at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (CTMP) this past weekend and it couldn’t been a better weekend for Paul Miller Racing, who took home their third win of the year in the GTD class, after winning at Sebring and Long Beach. BMW Team RLL also had a strong race with their #25 car, which finished on the podium in the GTP class.

The #1 Paul Miller Racing M4 GT3 was coming off a podium finish at Watkins Glen just two weeks ago and proved to be a contender from the start at CTMP, with Madison Snow qualifying third in the GTD class. Snow was just a tenth off the pole time of the #27 Aston Martin, and the top four cars in GTD were within a half-second of each other. Patrick Gallagher also had a strong qualifying session, putting the #96 Turner Motorsport car into fifth, with Chandler Hull in eighth in the #97 Turner car. The #97 car at CTMP was a spare chassis the team had to turn to after Bill Auberlen wrecked the previous car at Watkins Glen.

In GTP qualifying, the BMW M Hybrid V8 cars were both well off the pace of the pole-sitting Acura. Augusto Farfus qualified the #24 car in sixth out of nine cars, followed by Nick Yelloly in seventh in the #25 car. Both were over a second off the pole. Like Turner, BMW Team RLL also had car repairs to contend with before the CTMP round. The #24 car had to be sent to Dallara in Indianapolis for tub repair after Farfus wrecked it on the first lap at Watkins Glen two weeks ago, as the tub was punctured by a broken suspension piece in that accident.

Once the race got underway, Madison Snow made it quickly to the front of the GTD class, getting past the leading #27 Aston Martin and holding onto the lead until turning the car over to Bryan Sellers with around two hours left in the race. Sellers came out behind the #27 Aston Martin after pitting, but also made it around and held onto the lead to take their third victory and extend their points lead in the GTD class championship. “This was a great day! I’m so proud of everybody on this team for today’s performance,” said team owner Paul Miller after the race. “We had great strategy, great pit stops, great driving by both Bryan and Madison. And it’s extra impressive because they did it all without telemetry coming off of the car to the pit box. Today wasn’t easy, it was a challenge for everyone, and to come out on top in those conditions is just the best thing we could have asked for today.”

The pair of Turner Motorsport M4 GT3s were also having a strong race in the first half, with both cars in the top five at one point. The race ended for the #96 car of Patrick Gallagher and Robby Foley after an accident with another car damaged the left front suspension. They were ultimately classified in thirteenth. The #97 car of Chandler Hull and Bill Auberlen recovered to finish in fifth after serving a drive-through penalty for not meeting the minimum refueling time.

In the GTP class, the BMWs certainly didn’t have the pace to win the race and it didn’t look like they would even be on the podium, but clever strategy calls put the #25 car of Nick Yelloly and Connor De Phillippi in the top three by the end of the race, and they finished on the podium in third behind the pair of Acuras. It was the 100th podium finish for BMW M Team RLL and their fourth podium of the year, putting them just ten points out of the points lead. “P3 here today was not expected to be honest,” said Yelloly. “We really struggled all weekend with the car being quite difficult to drive particularly over the bumps at a track that we’ve not been to before. So, this was as good as we could have hoped for. Great job by the strategy team. Great job by Conner to obviously keep it on the black part. It was quite difficult to do. And yeah, thanks to BMW for all the effort.”

The duo of Philipp Eng and Augusto Farfus have had a miserable couple of races. Farfus crashed the #24 car on the first turn of the first lap at Watkins Glen two weeks ago, and both drivers were handed down penalties for on-track conduct at CTMP. Eng nearly hit a safety vehicle while under caution, and Farfus forced Cadillac driver Renger van der Zande off the track and into the wall in the final stages of the race. They ultimately finished in eighth out of nine cars.

Next up for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship is a GT-only race at Lime Rock Park on July 22nd, with all of the classes going to Road America on August 4th-6th.
—David Haueter

[Photos courtesy LAT Images, Paul Miller Racing]



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