Lewis and Wilkins claim last gasp victory for Hyundai
04 May 2019
All eyes were glued to the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge TCR battle in the final 15 minutes at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course on Saturday. It was Hyundai versus Audi as the race approached the chequered flag, with Bryan Herta Autosport’s #98 Hyundai Veloster N battling against Audi RS 3 LMS entries from Mark Motors Racing and Roadshagger Racing.
Michael Lewis in the Hyundai had all he could handle against Remo Ruscitti in the #81 Mark Motors Audi, with the two continuously swapping lead changes. The #61 Roadshagger Audi of Jon Morley lurked in third and was looking to make a move to second if one of the top two faltered.
Two moves decided the race with the first coming with less than three minutes remaining. At that point, Lewis slid his Hyundai around Ruscitti and a GS car blocking the latter to take the lead. The move solidified Hyundai’s first IMSA win in just its third start for Bryan Herta Autosport, Lewis and co-driver Mark Wilkins. On top of this the pair finished an outstanding fifth overall, 33 seconds behind the GS winning Porsche 718.
“I’m so happy I was in this Hyundai Veloster,” said Lewis. “It was really grippy. I was confident in the car, and then the only thing I was thinking about is where to place my car because Remo behind me was doing a good job of placing his car in that traffic. So, I was thinking about each corner ahead and then even a bit further ahead to see where he would time a run. With about two laps to go, I thought I had to make this one move, and if I was going to crash, that was what I had to do to try to win. And if I would’ve crashed, hey, it happens. We ended up sticking it, I think it was on the outside of eight or nine on a Mustang and got some clear air. Then in the last corner again, another Mustang got in the way, but we were able to get the win. Honestly, it was just pure driving. That was touring car racing and multi-class racing at its best.”
With Lewis’ pass, Ruscitti was relegated to second and left to battle Morley. Contact with the #61 sent Ruscitti spinning into the grass, ultimately winding up fourth, and Morley with co-driver Gavin Ernstone runner-up.
Rounding out the podium in their best finish-to-date as rookies were Russell McDonough and Ryan Nash in the #12 ROWE Racing Audi RS3 LMS.
The fourth round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will be the 4 hours of Watkins Glen on June 29.
1. Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Veloster N (Lewis / Wilkins), 68 laps
2. Roadshagger Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS (Morley / Ernstone), 1.077
3. eEuroparts.com ROWE Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS (McDonough / Nash), 8.708
4. Mark Motors Racing, Audi RS 3 LMS (Cirone / Ruscitti), 12.677
5. LA Honda World Racing, Honda Civic Type R (O’ Gorman / Blackstock), 15.225
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