Porsche achieved a dream debut for the new 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport with a 1-2 finish Friday in the Grand Sport class of the BMW M Endurance Challenge, the opening round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season.
Stevan McAleer, in the No. 28 RS1 Porsche, stalked Owen Trinkler’s identical No. 64 Team TGM Porsche for several laps as the final 30 minutes of the four-hour race unfolded, finally edging past in the tri-oval section of Daytona International Speedway with just under 13 minutes remaining.
From there, McAleer eased the Porsche he shared with Eric Filgueiras to a 4.631-second margin of victory over the No. 64 car co-driven by Ted Giovanis.
It was the tenth Pilot Challenge victory for McAleer, a 37-year-old Scotsman, and the first for Filgueiras in his first IMSA race of any kind.
It was also Porsche’s first win in any form of IMSA competition at Daytona since 2018, also delivered by RS1 in Pilot Challenge.
McAleer said he encountered a gearbox glitch about 30 minutes into his stint that required him to recycle the Porsche’s electronics. After that, the car was flawless and fast – albeit, no longer in the lead.
The final restart came with McAleer running sixth, but he was confident in working his way to the front. He harbored a bit of worry about Trinkler in the leading Porsche.
Gary Ferrera and Kris Wilson, in the No. 11 Capstone Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT4, won the Bronze Cup awarded to the top-finishing entry with an all-Bronze rated driver lineup. The No. 11 finished 11th overall.
After a plethora of lead changes in the TCR class, Tim Lewis gapped the field in the closing laps and drove on to the class victory in the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR.
Lewis, who shared the car with Roy Block, won by 9.524 seconds over the reigning class champions Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler in the No. 1 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Tim Lewis took the lead for good with a half-hour remaining when he passed Stephen Simpson in the No. 54 Michael Johnson Racing with Bryan Herta Autosport Elantra.
It led to Block’s fourth Pilot Challenge win and the third for Lewis, who delivered Alfa Romeo a pair of breakthrough victories last year.
Lewis said attrition was a factor. Friday’s race is one of just two on the Pilot Challenge schedule to run four hours; the remaining eight are each two hours in length.
Third place continued the inspirational story of the week, with Robert Wickens getting a podium finish in his series debut in the No. 33 BHA Hyundai. It was Wickens’ first race since he was paralyzed in a 2018 IndyCar crash.
He logged nearly 90 minutes in the car before handing off to co-driver and fellow Canadian Mark Wilkins.
RESULTS: BMW M Endurance Challenge