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Michelin Pilot Challenge

First Win for Archangel in Mid-Ohio Fuel Milage Thriller

First-time winners in both classes in four-hour enduro that came down to fuel strategy…

Photo: Mike Levitt/IMSA

Aaron Telitz and Todd Coleman delivered Archangel Motorsports its first IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge win with a fuel milage masterclass in Sunday’s O’Reilly Auto Parts Four Hours of Mid-Ohio.

Telitz saved a significant amount of fuel in his extended final 54-lap stint aboard the No. 88 Aston Martin Vantage GT4, having made one fewer pit stop than the rest of the GS class front-runners.

Archangel emerged as a contender when it inherited the race lead after the final round of pit stops, but appeared to be one fuel fill short of the rest of the field. However, Telitz was able to save enough fuel to allow the Mike Johnson-led squad to claim its first series victory after starting the race in 16th and running the majority of the race outside of the top-ten.

Points leader Matt Plumb came home second with Paul Holton in the No. 46 Team TGM Aston Martin, with the duo having fought at the front of the field for the entire four-hour enduro.

Daniel Morad was forced to aggressively save fuel at the end of his final stint, and took the checkered flag in third.

Morad led the race twice in his No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, despite serving a mid-race drive-through for unattended pit lane equipment, but was forced to relinquish a position to Plumb in order to make it to the checkered flag on fuel.

Ruckus Racing’s Scott Blind and JP Southern finished fourth after Riley Dickinson went off at Turn 1 in the final moments while fighting to keep Southern and Robin Liddell behind.

Liddell rounded out the top-five for Rebel Rock Racing, having also saved fuel in the final 90 minutes to regain ground after early troubles and a drive-through penalty for teammate Frank DePew which saw the No. 71 squad fighting to stay on the lead lap in the middle of the race.

The pole-sitting Not 69 Motorsports in Action McLaren Artura GT4 suffered a disastrous pit stop after leading in the opening hour when the car’s air jack line appeared to fail, leaving the crew to lift the car with manual jacks to change tires. Michael de Quesada lost two laps as a result.

Simultaneously, Danny Formal lost ground in his No. 19 van der Steur Racing Aston Martin while running third, with a fuel flow issue in the pits hindering the team’s progress in the pits.

While Holton’s No. 46 Team TGM Aston Martin then inherited the lead, Parker Thompson, Nick Shaeffer, and Morad also spent time at head of the field utilizing a variety of fuel strategies.

Three full course cautions interrupted running and shuffled the order throughout the race, with the first stoppage coming after a bizarre early incident when the No. 70 Deily Motorsports Audi RS 3 LMS TCR’s entire rear left wheel and hub assembly suddenly appeared to sheer off, stranding the car in the middle of the Turn 4 runoff.

The second caution period was for the recovery of the No. 15 Rockwell Autosport Development Audi from the gravel trap after Alex Rockwell made contact with Tyler Chambers’ No. 89 Honda of America Racing Team Honda Civic Type-R TCR.

Chambers was issued a drive-through penalty for the contact.

The field fell under caution for a third time with 90 minutes remaining following a massive accident when Jeff Westphal’s No. 39 CarBahn Motorsports BMW M4 GT4 careened into the underside of the concrete bridge overlooking Turn 1 after rear contact from Kenton Koch’s No. 92 Random Vandals Racing BMW.

Westphal climbed from his destroyed BMW uninjured, while Koch collected a hefty five-minute stop-and-hold penalty for incident responsibility.

Bryan Herta Autosport Wins TCR With Late Splash-and-Dash

Dennis Dupont drove the No. 76 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR he shares with Preston Brown to victory lane after a late, short fuel fill to stay ahead of the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR of Tim Lewis Jr.

Dupont moved to the head of the TCR field after an efficient pit stop during the race’s final caution that saw him leapfrog the three BHA Hyundais and the No. 5 Alfa Romeo he had been tailing for the first two-thirds of the race.

Once in the lead, Dupont saved enough fuel to only have to short-fill his No. 76 machine in the final minutes to maintain track position and take the pair’s first win in the series.

Second-place finishers Lewis Jr. and William Tally also benefitted from a strong fuel strategy that helped them climb the order in the second half of the race after starting tenth, just behind the winning, No. 76 entry.

The championship-leading No. 17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi of Mikey Taylor and Chris Miller claimed the final step on the podium after running inside the top-five for nearly the entire race.

A comeback effort for the No. 33 BHA Hyundai of Harry Gottsacker and Robert Wickens saw them finish fourth after starting the race last following a post-qualifying penalty for running under the minimum permissible ride height.

Wickens made up significant ground, making his way into the top-ten after only ten minutes in his opening stint before handing the car off to Gottsacker, who brought the car further into contention. The pole-sitting No. 93 Montreal Motorsports Group Honda rounded out the top-five.

Despite leading in the first half of the race, Daijiro Yoshihara was forced to serve a drive-through penalty in the No. 93 MMG entry after contact with the No. 99 Civic Type-R of Victor Gonzalez resulting in a picture for the Puerto Rican.

A late puncture serviced during a late fuel stop thwarted the No. 98 BHA squad’s chances of victory after Mark Wilkins led the race at various stages in the car he shares with Mason Filippi.

RESULTS: O’Reily Auto Parts Four Hours of Mid-Ohio

Jonathan Grace is the host of Sportscar365's Double Stint Podcast and a contributor to the web site's IMSA-sanctioned race coverage.

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