The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC) traveled to the Road America circuit in Wisconsin and faced significant challenges with a newly repaved circuit, but the Paul Miller Racing team came away with a big win in the GTD class while BMW M Team RLL had a forgettable day in the GTP class.

Road America was newly repaved before this season, which made it the fastest track on the IWSC calendar in terms of average speed, but the new asphalt also caused some major issues. According to the drivers, the track had fantastic grip on the racing line, but was incredibly slippery if you ventured off of that line.

There were a lot of crashes in the practice sessions leading up to the race, but Paul Miller Racing kept their #1 M4 GT3 clean and Madison Snow put the car on the GTD class pole with a 2:03.291 lap. The other pair of M4 GT3s entered by Turner Motorsport followed in seventh (Patrick Gallagher in the #96) and eighth (Chandler Hull in the #97). In GTP qualifying, the pair of BMW M Team RLL M Hybrid V8s ended up in fifth (Connor De Phillippi in the #25) and eighth (Philipp Eng in the #24). De Phillippi was around a half-second off the pole time of the #31 Cadillac, and Eng was another six-tenths behind De Phillippi.

The slippery track surface took Connor De Phillippi by surprise before the race even started. He spun on cold tires on the warmup lap, went into the gravel, and had to be pulled out by a tow truck, which put him in dead last at the start of the race. He was working his way up through traffic when he lost control of the car in the challenging Kink turn on the track and went into the wall, which ended the day for the #25. It was very unfortunate, as De Phillippi and Nick Yelloly were in second place in the championship coming into Road America. The #24 had a bad day as well, with Eng tangling with Mike Rockenfeller in a Porsche 963 and going off track, and then retiring with electrical problems later in the race.

As bad as the day was for BMW M Team RLL, it was a great day for Paul Miller Racing. They started the race from the pole and never looked back, leading the race from start to finish despite an early battle with the Inception Racing McLaren. They took their fourth win of the year and extended their lead in the GTD points championship. The win was also their first at the Road America circuit. “We came out of the gate strong,” said Snow. “This repave was difficult for a lot of people. Fortunately, it seemed like it really suited the BMW well. It was strong out of the gate.” The Turner Motorsport #97 car of Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull finished in sixth in GTD, while the #96 car of Robby Foley and Patrick Gallagher finished twelfth after running out of fuel on the last lap.

The next race for IMSA will be a GT-only race at VIR on the weekend of August 25th-27th. All the classes will be back for the Indianapolis race on September 15th-17th, followed by the Petit Le Mans finale at Road Atlanta on October 11th-14th. IMSA announced the schedule for the 2024 at Road America and it remains fairly consistent with this year. The most notable changes are that Lime Rock Park has been dropped from the schedule, while the Indianapolis race will be six hours in duration next year and part of the North American Endurance Cup. Another bit of news that was announced at the Road America race was the Paul Miller Racing will be moving up to the GTD Pro class in 2024.

—David Haueter

[Photos courtesy LAT Images]



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