Paul Holton dashed past Jeff Westphal on the final restart with 11 minutes remaining and pulled away to take a dramatic win in Friday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season-opening BMW Endurance Classic at Daytona.
Holton dominated the early part of the four-hour race from pole in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 but the team was handed a setback when his co-driver Kuno Wittmer was assessed a drive-through penalty for jumping a restart with under 90 minutes remaining.
A caution shortly after the drive-through was served helped to neutralize the penalty, but Wittmer was still outside of the top-20 with an hour remaining.
Wittmer had made significant progress when he handed the car back over to Holton with 44 minutes left, and the McLaren factory driver did the rest, tearing through the field and to the lead.
Holton was running second going into the final restart and wasted no time making the pass on Westphal’s Audi R8 LMS GT4 into Turn 1. He never looked back, scoring the win by 6.931 seconds.
Second place went the way of Kris Wilson in the No. 99 Stoner Car Care Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 who won the drag race to the line for second over Jesse Lazare in the No. 69 MIA McLaren by a mere 0.007 seconds.
Westphal and his Carbahn Motorsports team were on a fuel economy run and came up short, ultimately having to pit for a splash of fuel on the final lap. That stop dropped him to 16th.
The race was a stop-and-start affair punctuated by nine full course yellows, all precipitated by contact on track.
LA Honda World Goes 1-2 in TCR
Tom O’Gorman took advantage of the late race caution and swept around James Vance in the waning minutes to give the LAP Motorsports-run LA Honda World Racing team its first win with the Honda Civic Type R TCR along with his co-driver Shelby Blackstock.
O’Gorman’s teammate Mat Pombo was charging hard in the final laps, but had to settle for second in the sister No. 73 entry, while James Vance completed the podium for Fast MD Racing.
Two of the TCR frontrunners, including the class pole-sitter, were eliminated after just 70 minutes.
Michael Johnson’s No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS TCR and the No. 10 eEuroparts Audi TCR of Lee Carpentier made contact entering the Bus Stop while battling for the class lead.
The contact sent both cars into the outside wall and eliminated two of the class favorites from the race.
Another contender was eliminated in the final hour when the No. 3 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR of Alex Popow slowed on track with smoke coming out of the back of the car.
Popow had been battling for the lead with O’Gorman prior to the problem.
RESULTS: BMW Endurance Challenge