Robert Wickens has claimed his first win since his devastating IndyCar accident, teaming with Mark Wilkins to take top TCR honors in Saturday’s IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Watkins Glen International.
The 33-year-old paraplegic driver, in only his fifth series start, returned to the top step of the podium for the first time in nearly five years in a controlling run in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Wickens, who started third in class, took over the lead through his stint before handing over to fellow Canadian Wilkins with 57 minutes to go in the two-hour Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120.
A well-timed caution just five minutes later kept the Hyundai out front, where Wilkins held off the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR of Tim Lewis Jr. by 0.374 seconds at the line.
It marked Wickens’ first win since the 2017 DTM round at the Nürburgring and the first in a car utilizing hand controls, successfully completing one of the sport’s remarkable comebacks.
The No. 2 BHA Hyundai of Ryan Norman and AJ Muss completed the TCR class podium in third.
Up front in the GS class, Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern broke through for Turner Motorsport’s first win of the season, thanks to a late-race pass for the lead at the Bus Stop Chicane.
Auberlen got around the No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Christian Szymczak with 12 minutes to go and opened up a 2.055-second gap at the checkered flag.
The pole-sitting No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport of Stevan McAleer and Eric Filgueiras, which battled a deteriorating hood, finished second, with Szymczak fading to third by the checkered flag.
Robin Liddell brought the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R home in fourth, bouncing back from an early race puncture, with the No. 55 FCP Euro Mercedes completing the top-five.
The No. 7 VOLT Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 pairing of Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson rebounded from a puncture to finish sixth, extending their points lead in the process.
Kenton Koch and Eric Foss came home seventh after leading in the final hour in their No. 56 Murillo Mercedes, meanwhile.
While the first half of the race ran caution-free, a series of incidents and stoppages led to multiple yellows over a 40-minute period in the closing hour.
RESULTS: Tioga Downs Casino Resort 120