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BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona - IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge


# 88 BMW M4 GT4, Henry Schmitt_Greg Liefooghe

# 88 BMW M4 GT4, Henry Schmitt_Greg Liefooghe

 

Daytona, 25 January, 2019

The BMW Endurance Challenge race was the feature support race to the main Rolex 24 Hour race, and formed part of the 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge series. It was a 4 hours long race held on the Friday afternoon preceding the main event, and attracted a colourful varied entry across the two classes, with 35 starters in the main GS class for GT4 cars and 14 starters in the TCR saloon car class. The qualifying sessions saw the # 75 Compass Racing entered Mclaren GT4 driven by Holton / Wittmer take the overall pole position, with the TCR class pole position going to the # 54 JDC-Miller MotorSports entered Audi RS3 LMS TCR of Johnson / Simpson / Taylor. The race saw the series debut of a pair of Alfa Romeo Giuliettas in the TCR class, entered by KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering, and although both eventually retired from the race, they showed potential. 

The race enjoyed the best weather of the weekend, with clear blue skies and a reasonable ambient temperature, although cool by Florida standards for the time of year. With a total of 49 cars jockeying for position on the track contact was almost inevitable, and it proved to be the case, with a number of incidents causing a flurry of full course yellows during the course of the frenetic race. However, in between these there was some exciting and close racing, with the final result in doubt until the dying minutes, when the pole sitting # 75 McLaren of Holton / Wittmer managing to pull away from the pursuers in the closing laps. It eventually took the overall win by a fraction over 6secs from the # 99 Automatic Racing entered Aston Martin Vantage GT4 of Ferrera / Wilson, which had the # 69 Motorsports in Action entered McLaren GT4 of Lazare / Fergus alongside as they took the chequered flag, with only 0.007sec between them. The TCR class win was even closer, with the pair of LA Honda World Racing entered Honda Civic TCRs coming to the front as the race wore on. Eventually the team’s # 37 example driven by O’Gorman / Blackstock took a narrow win by 1.605secs from the # 73 example of Pombo / LaMarra. The final podium spot went to the Fast MD Racing entered # 29 Audi R3S LMS TCR in the hands of Galante / Vance / Salinsky, which was only some 2.5secs in arrears at the flag.

 

Podiums

Overall & GS Class

1st – # 75, McLaren GT4, P. Holton / K. Wittmer
2nd – # 99, Aston Martin Vantage GT4, G. Ferrera / K. Wilson
3rd – # 69, McLaren GT4, J. Lazare / C. Fergus

TCR Class

1st – # 37, Honda Civic TCR, T. O’Gorman / S. Blackstock
2nd – # 73, Honda Civic TCR, M. Pombo / M. LaMarra
3rd – # 23, Audi RS3 LMS TCR, N. Galante / J. Vance / J. Salinsky

 

Keith Bluemel
02/2019