Michelin Pilot Challenge at Road America
A rain-soaked event, late-race restart and ballsy driving from one of the sport’s most accomplished GT racing veterans were all of the ingredients needed to make August’s Michelin Pilot Challenge race at Road America one of the most memorable finishes of the year, if not of the decade.
IMSA Radio’s John Hindhaugh even proclaimed it as the “best final lap you will ever see.”
Robin Liddell came from fourth on the final lap before making an astonishing overtake on Kuno Wittmer at the finish line, to take an unexpected victory for Rebel Rock Racing.
Liddell 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 after Wittmer slowed just before the line after accidentally hitting his car’s pit speed limiter button instead of activating the pit-to-car radio.
A late caution period resulted in the field being bunched up for a single-lap dash to the flag, with the Motorsports in Action McLaren of Corey Fergus leading from Wittmer.
Wittmer made a lunge down the inside of Fergus 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.
Runner Up: Kyalami 9 Hour
The return of international sports car racing to the historic South African circuit produced fireworks on and off the track, with a thrilling night-time race to the finish won by Frikadelli Racing’s Nick Tandy, Dennis Olsen and Mathieu Jaminet.
Staged as the fifth and final leg of the SRO Motorsports Group’s Intercontinental GT Challenge powered by Pirelli, the revival of the famed event, most recently held as a nine-hour race in 1982, helped put Kyalami back on the international motorsports map.
Impressive renovations to the former South African Grand Prix facility, along with enthusiastic support from locals, has resulted in a further boost to the region, with the FIA World Endurance Championship now set to hold a race there in February 2021.
Honorable Mentions: Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour (Matt Campbell’s heroic winning comeback drive), WEC 6 Hours of Spa (snow-impacted GTE-Pro thriller), ‘Super Sebring’ (successful first joint WEC/IMSA event at Sebring despite all odds)