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VIR Post-Race Notebook

Sportscar365’s post-race notebook from Michelin GT Challenge at VIR…

Photo: Porsche

***Trouble struck all but one GT Le Mans class car in Saturday’s Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway, in what race winner Jordan Taylor characterized the two-hour and 40-minute sprint as an “endurance race” for the normally bulletproof category.

***The pole-sitting No. 911 Porsche 911 RSR-19 of Fred Makowiecki and Nick Tandy had two tire-related issues, while contact between the No. 25 Team RLL BMW M8 GTE of Connor De Phillippi and No. 912 Porsche of Earl Bamber resulted in a broken diffuser that had to be changed twice.

***Oliver Gavin had an off-course excursion in the No. 4 Chevrolet Corvette C8.R that clogged the car’s radiator while the No. 24 BMW of John Edwards lost more than 20 laps with a steering-related mechanical issue and the eventual race-winning No. 3 Corvette of Taylor and Antonio Garcia limped home with a loose diffuser.

***Corvette Racing’s fourth consecutive GTLM win — the first time since 2014 for the Pratt & Miller-run team —  has given Taylor and Garcia a 19-point lead in the drivers’ championship, with Chevrolet 11 points up on BMW in the manufacturers’ title race with five races into the planned 11-round season.

***Bruno Spengler claimed his first podium finish in IMSA competition with a runner-up finish in the No. 25 BMW alongside De Phillippi. The Canadian, in his first visit to VIR, said his virtual experience of the 3.27-mile circuit in the IMSA iRacing Pro Series was “awesome training” for the weekend.

***While Bill Auberlen became the winningest driver in IMSA history on Sunday, there is some discrepancy whether it was actually his 61st or 62nd win, due to a potential miscalculation in the record books.

***Auberlen’s first class win in an IMSA-sanctioned event came on March 28, 1993 in a non-points race at Fuji Speedway in Japan, as part of a joint IMSA GT Challenge event with the all-Japan Grand Touring Championship (JGTC), which later became known as Super GT.

***His first registered IMSA win on U.S. soil, meanwhile, came nearly four months later at Road America on July 11, at the wheel of a Mazda RX-7, having taken top GTU class honors in the 500km race.

***IMSA has been unable to confirm whether the Fuji race, which featured a half-dozen IMSA GTS and GTU teams alongside regulars from JGTC, counted towards Auberlen’s tally.

***The majority of Auberlen’s wins came in BMW machinery through his illustrious 30-plus year career. “Bill has been an integral part of our motorsport team through the years and we could not be happier for him to have achieved this record. There is no one better,” said BMW North America Motorsport manager Victor Leleu.

***Mario Farnbacher proved to be Auberlen’s biggest challenger in Saturday’s race, with the German nearly getting around the No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M6 GT3 for the class lead before locking up his brakes entering Turn 1.

***As a result of their second place finish, Farnbacher and co-driver Matt McMurry are now tied with AIM Vasser Sullivan’s Jack Hawksworth for the lead of the GTD drivers’ championship.

***Hawksworth and co-driver Aaron Teltiz, however, are still out front in the WeatherTech Sprint Cup standings as neither Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo took part in the Sprint Cup-only round at Sebring International Raceway last month.

***Lexus’ four-race GTD class win streak came to an end on Saturday, with neither of the AVS-entered Lexus RC F GT3s finishing on the podium for the first time since the season-opening Rolex 24 at Daytona.

***Hawksworth and Telitz were elevated to a fourth place class finish following the post-race penalty for the No. 48 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo, which was moved to the rear of the GTD finishing order due to a fuel capacity issue.

***Paul Miller Racing team manager Mitchell Simmons explained the car was found to have been 0.8 liters above the fuel capacity post-race, which is something “we can’t allow to slip past us. We fully support IMSA’s decision in how they handled it, the rules are rules. We’ve just gotta look at the process and make sure it’s a mistake that is only made this once.”

***The No. 63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 Evo 2020 of Cooper MacNeil and Toni Vilander was forced to retire in the final hour due to boost-related engine issues. The car had been in the mix for a top-five finish at the time. “We had a good strategy playing out for a strong finish, but wasn’t to be,” said Vilander.

***A drive-through penalty due to a pit lane speeding infringement for the No. 74 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3 Evo of Gar Robinson and Lawson Aschenbach erased hopes of a potential class victory, with Aschenbach ending up third in the race after being on a similar strategy to the WeatherTech-sponsored Ferrari and No. 44 Magnus Racing Lamborghini.

***Michelin North America’s motorsports director Tony Ménard gave the command to start engines on Saturday, while IMSA again had a limited selection of VIP guests take part in a socially distanced grid walk.

***The next WeatherTech Championship round, the Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sept. 5, will be open to fans. Check out Sportscar365’s social media channels on Tuesday for a chance to win free tickets to the race.

John Dagys is the founder and Editor-in-Chief of Sportscar365. Dagys spent eight years as a motorsports correspondent for and SPEED Channel and has contributed to numerous other motorsports publications worldwide. Contact John

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