Throughout the year, Continental Tire will focus on celebrating the fans, media, drivers, and teams and their contributions to sports car racing, including a weekly trip down memory lane in Sportscar365’s Continental Tire IMSA Reflections series.
This week, Dillon Machavern looks back on his 2017 IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge championship season.
What were your expectations entering the 2017 season?
“Going into any race season the goal is always to win a championship, but being new to the very competitive GS class we knew we had a lot of work to do.
“We expected to do well but winning a championship the first season competing in any class is a tall order. For the 2017 season in particular there were a lot of unknowns so it was hard to know how things were going to shake out.
“Even though there were a lot of veteran teams to the GS class, the new GT4 platform meant that almost everyone was starting fresh, which leveled the playing field for a new team like ours.”
Was there a race or moment that was a turning point in your championship pursuit?
“We had a few memorable turning points throughout the 2017 season. The first was getting our first GS podium at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, which created a ton of momentum going forward.
“If I remember right we had three straight podiums after that including the pivotal race in our championship campaign VIR.
“I believe we took the lead of the championship the race before at Road America. Our win at VIR was definitely the turning point in the season that put us in really good shape to take home the championship.
“Without the cushion we gained from the win at VIR the final at Atlanta would have been a much different race.”
Who were your closest competitors on track that year and what memories do you have of racing against them?
“Continental Tire Challenge, and specifically the GS class, is known for being extremely competitive, so thinking back it is hard to remember one specific battle or one specific competitor that was the best, because there were so many good ones.
“The Bodymotion Porsche was always right there, as well as the pair of McLaren’s from Compass Racing.
“One specific memory I have, and maybe this one stuck with me because it was my first stint of the season, was battling hard for the lead at Daytona with the Multimatic mustang.
“There was some beating and banging, and I remember thinking how cool it was to be battling for first in our first race, with a team that had so much success in the class over the years.”
What was the celebration like after winning the title?
“The celebration was awesome, it was really cool to commemorate all the hard work the team put in throughout the season to make the championship possible.
“From the outside looking in I don’t think a lot of people realize how much work goes into running a race season, so to celebrate with the entire team and have all their hard work recognized was a really awesome feeling.
“We even got together in the off season for some jet ski racing against each other which was a cool way to cut loose with everyone after a long season of hard work.”
What has that championship meant for you and your career?
“The championship has certainly opened up doors to some awesome opportunities like the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Daytona endurance races this past season.
“Being our first full season back in IMSA since 2014 and being as young as we were, I don’t think many people even knew who Dylan Murcott and I were when we started the 2017 season so the championship certainly got our names out there.”