The GS class title fight in Michelin Pilot Challenge has tightened into a three-horse race between two teams entering the penultimate round of the season this weekend at Virginia International Raceway.
The No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 duo of Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern head into Sunday’s two-hour race still as the championship leaders, although their lead has been reduced to just 40 points over their sister entry of Robby Foley and Vinny Barletta.
What’s more, Jan Heylen, fresh off his first victory of the season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca, is now within 80 points of Auberlen and Machavern, whose No. 95 BMW M4 GT4 suffered a puncture while leading at Laguna.
Eighty points in IMSA’s new-for-2021 points system is the equivalent of eight in the series’ previous system, meaning there’s little room for error with only two rounds to go.
A total of 35 cars are entered for the Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix, with a number of changes since the last round at Laguna Seca.
Ryan Hardwick is set to return as Heylen’s co-driver in the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport after missing the last round due to a positive COVID-19 test. Max Root subbed for Heylen, giving the team its first win with the platform.
Winward Racing will be absent from the grid with its two Mercedes-AMG GT4s for the first time this season, as the team prepares for next weekend’s Indianapolis 8 Hour, although both Rebel Rock Racing (Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R) and Notlad Racing by RS1 (Aston Martin Vantage GT4) are back in action after missing recent races.
Rob Ecklin will be joined by Ramin Abdolvahabi in the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin while newly crowned Pirelli GT4 America Silver class champion Kenny Murillo will sub for the injured Jeff Mosing in the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes this weekend.
Mosing broke his right foot, ruling him out of the weekend.
There’s also a change of lineup in the No. 14 Riley Motorsports Toyota GR Supra GT4, with Milo Valverde making his series debut alongside fellow Costa Rican driver Javier Quiros.
The TCR class expands to 15 entries thanks to the debut of New German Performance’s Audi RS 3 LMS TCR for Tristan Herbert and former class champion Britt Casey Jr., as well as the Rockwell Autosport Development Audi for Eric and Alex Rockwell.
Todd Lamb, meanwhile, is set to sub for Scott Smithson in the No. 94 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic Type-R TCR.
Track activity for Pilot Challenge competitors kicks off on Friday afternoon with qualifying and the race scheduled for Sunday, the day after the Michelin GT Challenge for WeatherTech SportsCar Championship competitors.
It will be streamed live on Trackpass on NBC Sports Gold beginning at 2 p.m. ET.