Robin Liddell said he was just “lucky” in being able to charge from fourth to the win on the final lap of Saturday’s wet and wild IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Road America.
Liddell and co-driver Frank DePew celebrated Rebel Rock Racing’s second victory in the last three races in their Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R, benefiting from a late-race downpour that put nearly the entire field back on wet-weather Michelin tires.
The Scot, who took over the car in 21st overall in the race, which was shortened to 75 minutes prior to the green flag, carved his way through the field before emerging in fourth while under the race’s final yellow with ten minutes to go.
It set up a one-lap shootout to the finish that will go down in the Pilot Challenge record books as one of the craziest in history.
“We were lucky, if I’m honest,” Liddell said. “Obviously we gained a lot of positions but I was quite lucky.
“I wasn’t making any inroads, to be fair, most of the lap. Then I came out of the Carousel and had a pretty decent run and went right around the outside.
“Then coming through the Kink, I got a sense I that I was going to be able to go quicker through the Kink than they were, so I just basically hung back a bit and and had a run through the Kink and came out and I had just put my bumper on him and he had a wee wobble.
“So I was like, ‘Right, I’ve got a chance here.’
“Coming down into Canada [Corner], the 69 [car] was defending on the inside, he was right up his ass and I just went to the outside and braved it.
“I was running all over the curbs, basically off the track on the exit. but I kept my foot in and got back on. I turned the traction control off so I could get a good drive off the exit, so it wouldn’t bog me down when I went to power.
“I was in second thinking, ‘happy days, this ain’t bad then coming out of the last corner coming up the front straight, suddenly I see the McLaren just slowing down.”
Just yards from crossing the start/finish line, race leader Kuno Wittmer in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren 570S GT4 accidentally hit the pit speed limiter instead of the radio button, which gave Liddell the chance to pull off the jaw-dropping finish.
“I pulled over to the middle and then he started coming back,” he said. “I said there was no way I was lifting here, so I just kept my foot in and went by in the grass. It was pretty cool.”
Liddell crossed the line 0.070 seconds ahead of Wittmer, marking the fourth-closest finish in series history.
The view of the photo finish from the pits was just as unclear, described DePew.
“Only when [engineer] Phil [Pierce] told me,” said DePew, of when he realized the win. “We saw the McLaren slow and we didn’t know what was going on. It had to be inches or a foot or something. It was not visible to us, but all of a sudden Phil said we were P1, so everybody went crazy.”