If you happened to turn on the Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Road America on Sunday with just ten minutes left in the race, you would have assumed it was going to be a great day for BMW. At that point, there were three M4 GT4s running in the top three, with the #95 Turner Motorsport car in the lead, followed by the #96 Turner car and the #92 Random Vandals car. Ten minutes later, the top finish of a BMW was a fourth-place for the #96 car of Robby Foley and Vin Barletta, followed in fifth by the #92 car driven by Kenton Koch and Paul Sparta.
The finishing positions don’t really reflect what had been a dominant race for the BMWs. Turner Motorsport driver Robert Megennis was on the pole in the #95 car that he shares with Cameron Lawrence and built a substantial lead over the second place Porsche until the first round of pit stops. Robby Foley came out of the pits ahead of Cameron Lawrence, but Lawrence then got by Foley and the pair caught up and passed the leaders with Kenton Koch slotting into third in the #92 Random Vandals car.
The trio of leading BMWs were running in formation and would have likely finished the race that way if there had been a caution period after the final round of pit stops. There wasn’t, so the top three BMWs all had to pit with less than ten minutes to go, which gave the win to the #71 Chevy Camaro. It almost worked out for the BMWs. A Toyota Supra crashed heavily with around ten minutes left in the race but managed to make it back to pit lane. If the Supra had stopped on the track, the yellow flags would have been flown and it would have probably been a BMW 1-2-3 finish. That’s racing.
Aside from the Turner Motorsport and Random Vandals cars that finished in the top five, the #95 Turner car of Megennis and Lawrence finished in the top ten in seventh, while the #43 Stephen Cameron Racing car of Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan ended up in twelfth and the #26 Fast Track Racing car of Toby Grahovec and Garrett Adams finished in thirteenth.
The fourth-place finish by Robby Foley and Vin Barletta did allow them to gain some points and stay in second place in the championship behind the Murillo Racing Mercedes of Kenny Murillo and Christian Szymczak, with just three races to go. The next round of the Michelin Pilot Challenge championship is at VIR on the weekend of August 25th-27th. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy LAT Images]