The Michelin Pilot Challenge season opened at Daytona International Speedway on Friday, as one of the support races for the Rolex 24 at Daytona. If you watched any of the four-hour race except for the end, you would think BMW dominated the race. As it turned out, they could only manage to get two cars in the top five.

There were five M4 GT4s entered in the GS class at Daytona, and they filled the top five positions in the first practice session. A BMW was also on the pole in qualifying, with Sean McAlister setting the fastest lap in the CarBahn with Peregrine Racing #39 M4 GT4 at 1:52.842. The pair of Turner Motorsport cars were also within the top six, with Francis Selldorff in fifth in the #96 car and Dillon Machavern in sixth in the #95 (shown above).

The CarBahn by Peregrine Racing M4 GT4 was on pole but had issues during the race.

Unfortunately, the #39 car had issues from the beginning of the race, with the rear trunk lid coming loose and acting as a big airfoil. The team brought it in to fix that, but it wasn’t long before they were back in with a front right wheel that was askew, which took them out of the running. In the meantime, the pair of Turner Motorsport M4 GT4s were working their way to the front and by the halfway point were running one-two.

The Turner Motorsport #96 BMW finished in fifth after running at the front for most of the race.

The last hour of the race saw a dramatic battle among five cars, including the Turner BMWs, the Winward Racing Mercedes and the TGM Racing Aston Martin, as well as the Random Vandals BMW. Robby Foley maintained the lead in the #96 Turner car, while Robert Megennis traded positions with the Winward Racing Mercedes driven by Daniel Morad. Kenton Koch worked his way into the mix by getting past the Mercedes and pressuring Megennis.

The #92 Random Vandals BMW had to pit from the lead with one lap to go.

With 15 minutes left in the race, it seemed like there could be a potential BMW 1-2-3 finish, but most of the front-running cars were running low on fuel as they had expected a late-race caution in their strategy. The race stayed green, and the Turner BMWs both had to pit for fuel with less than eleven minutes in the race. Kenton Koch then took the lead in the #92 Random Vandals car and seemed poised to take the win, but also had to come in for fuel just before the final lap. The surprise win went to the #91 Porsche of Kellymoss with Riley Racing, followed by the Winward Racing Mercedes and the TGM Aston Martin. The #95 Turner BMW of Dillon Machavern and Robert Megennis finished in fourth, followed by the #96 Turner car of Robby Foley and Francis Selldorff.

The Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 finished in 22nd.

The next race in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series is at Sebring in mid-March. Even though there were no BMWs on the podium at Daytona, they clearly showed that they will be competitive this season, assuming IMSA will be fair with balance of performance adjustments.

The Team ACP by Random Vandals M4 GT4 finished in 26th.

—David Haueter

[Photos by David Haueter]



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