Robin Liddell came from fourth on the final lap before making an astonishing overtake on Kuno Wittmer at the finish line to win Saturday’s dramatic and wet IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Road America.
The Rebel Rock Racing driver put two wheels of his Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R on the grass to get around Wittmer’s No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 in a photo finish in the shortened 1 hour and 15-minute race.
Wittmer slowed just before the line after accidentally hitting his car’s pit speed limiter button instead of activating the pit-to-car radio.
This enabled Liddell to squeeze through and take the win with co-driver Frank DePew, marking Rebel Rock’s second Pilot Challenge victory in three races.
A late caution period resulted in the field being bunched up for a single-lap dash to the flag, with Jesse Lazare leading in the Motorsports in Action McLaren from Wittmer.
Wittmer made a lunge down the inside of Lazare to take the lead at Turn 3 and looked set to take Compass Racing’s first series win since the Daytona season-opener.
But Liddell, who had started the final lap in fourth place, charged through to second with a brilliant sweep around the outside of both the No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 and the No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 LMS GT4 at Canada Corner.
The Scot then powered through at the checkered flag to win by just 0.070 seconds, marking the fourth-closest finish in series history.
It capped a Road America 120 that ran to a reduced 75-minute duration after thunderstorms delayed the start by more than an hour.
Eric Foss and Kenny Murillo finished third in their No. 56 Mercedes, while the pole-sitting Carbahn Motorsports Audi of Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie came through in fourth.
The overall top-five was completed by the No. 7 Park Place Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport of Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman, despite a late trip through the grass for Hindman just before the final caution.
The caution itself was caused by a crash for the No. 09 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, which had been a key contender in the early stages.
Akhil Rabindra moved the Aston into the lead when he drafted past Kenton Koch in the No. 2 eEuroparts ROWE Racing Audi on the pit straight with 40 minutes to go.
However, Rabindra’s co-driver Kris Wilson hit the right-side wall coming out of the kink and retired on the spot with just over 10 minutes remaining.
Both the Automatic Racing and eEuroparts ROWE Racing cars ran the first half of the race on wet tires, despite parts of the track drying out fully by the midway point.
These cars and a handful of others, including the Compass and MiA McLarens, only made one pit stop each which helped them reside in the podium battle at the end, while the winning Rebel Rock Camaro GT4 managed on two stops.
The MiA car ended up finishing down in seventh after a chaotic final lap, behind the eEuroparts Audi which Koch shared with Tyler Cooke.
Penalty Decides TCR Contest
A drive time penalty for the on-the-road winner handed victory in the TCR class to the No. 21 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster TCR of Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi.
The No. 89 HART Honda Civic Type R TCR of Chad Gilsinger and Ryan Eversley crossed the line first, but its final pit stop overlapped an adjusted minimum drive time requirement because of the shortened race length.
Eversley’s sub-25-minute stint meant the HART car was handed a penalty which dropped it to the back of the class order.
It gave the No. 21 BHA Hyundai its first win of the season after it scored its first top-three result last time out at Lime Rock Park.
The HART car’s infringement promoted the No. 37 LA Honda World Honda up to second, while the No. 61 Roadshagger Racing Audi RS 3 LMS TCR was classified fourth.
RESULTS: Road America 120