The Michelin Pilot Challenge championship held their fifth round of the season with a two-hour race at Watkins Glen in upstate New York on Saturday, and the race ended with two BMWs in the top five for the GS class contest.

The weather forecast was iffy all weekend at Watkins Glen, but it stayed sunny and humid during the Michelin Pilot Challenge race. None of the four BMWs were that fast in qualifying. Francis Selldorff had the best time of M4 GT4 entries with a 1:55.960 lap in the #96 Turner Motorsport car that put him in eighth spot and around 1.3 seconds off the pole time of Trent Hindman in the RS1 Porsche. Dillon Machavern qualified thirteenth in the #95 Turner car, while Paul Sparta qualified eighteenth in his Random Vandals Racing BMW.

We’ve consistently seen this season that the M4 GT4s qualify better than they race, and that was also the case at Watkins Glen. Dillon Machavern started to make up ground from the drop of the green flag in the #95 Turner car (in top photo), and Robert Megennis continued to move up once he got into the car. They ultimately finished a strong second behind the winning (and championship-leading) Team TGM Aston Martin. The #96 Turner car of Selldorff and Robby Foley finished seventh, and the #92 Random Vandals car of Paul Sparta and Kenton Koch finished 20th after they had to come into the final laps while leading for a splash of fuel.

One of the most interesting storylines in the Watkins Glen race was the fifth-place finish for the #39 CarBahn M4 GT4 of Sean McAlister and Jeff Westphal. The car the team raced at Mid-Ohio just two weeks before was totaled when Westphal was hit from behind and went into a bridge abutment, forcing the Steve Dinan-led team to prepare their spare car for Watkins Glen. When they got to Watkins Glen, they found the electronics weren’t working correctly, so then had to send parts overnight from the wrecked car in California to get the new car running at Watkins Glen. They missed qualifying and had no practice but made it to the race and put in a very impressive performance, moving up into second in the closing laps. They ended up fifth after the car ran low on fuel and sputtered across the finish line on the last lap.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge series will race next at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park on the weekend of July 12th-14th. —David Haueter

[Photos by Ingrid Kretschmann]




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