In the second round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Sebring, the TCR class win went to the Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce of Tim Lewis and Roy Block run by the Florida-based KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering.
Lewis made his move to the lead after several corners of intense side-by-side racing with the Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N of Robert Wickens, pulling ahead just before the race’s final full-course caution came out with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the two-hour event.
Wickens, who shared the car with Harry Gottsacker, had taken the lead with about an hour remaining when his Hyundai pitted ahead of a caution period near the race’s midpoint. While the rest of the TCR class came in for driver changes during that ensuing yellow, the Elantra had already completed its service and driver change.
Wickens held off Lewis and the 15-car TCR field by nearly a second at one point with Lewis fighting back and ultimately pulling up to challenge Wickens, corner after corner as the caution flag came out.
“I don’t think it was side-by-side,’’ Wickens said. “Visibility in these cars is quite challenging and I could see that he was close and wasn’t sure if I was exactly clear, so I left him some space and then I saw the flashing light in my car, so I lifted. And he proceeded to overtake me. So, in my mind, he wasn’t ahead of me.’’
“There was a disabled car on the side of the track for two laps before, and conversing with my team, they said ‘Hey, if you’re going to go for it, you need to go for it now,’’’ Lewis said, “And that’s when Robbie made just the slightest mistake and we went side-by-side for three turns.’’
Lewis said there was no question he had made the pass prior to the yellow flag, noting his team also called into race control during the caution period to verify his position out front.
A second Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra, driven by Michael Wilkins and Mason Filippi, inherited P3 when the Victor González Racing Team-run Honda Civic Type R of Karl Wittmer retired with twelve minutes left on the clock. Mike LaMarra and William Tally finished fourth in the LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic Type R and moved up on top of the standings on equal points with the pair of Wilkins and Filippi.
The third round of the IMSA series will take place at Laguna Seca on May 13.
Sebring – Race
1. T. Lewis-R. Block (KMW Motorsports, Alfa Romeo Giulietta), 41 laps
2. R. Wickens/H. Gottsacker (Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Elantra N), 1.671
3. M. Wilkins/M. Filippi (Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Elantra N), 2.242
1. M. La Marra/W. Tally, 600; 2. M. Wilkins/M. Filippi 600; 3. R. Wickens/H. Gottsacker 570
Picture: IMSA/LAT Images