At Laguna Seca, the battle for victory in the TCR class of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge came down to two familiar drivers and one familiar team. Mark Wilkins held off a late challenge from his former co-driver, Robert Wickens, to claim the victory in a battle between two Bryan Herta Autosport entries.
Wilkins and Mason Filippi teamed to bring the #98 BHA Hyundai Elantra N home in front of the #33 sister car shared by Wickens and Harry Gottsacker. The victory put the #98 entry 60 points ahead of the #33 in the standings after three rounds.
“I’m proud of this team,” said Wilkins, who teamed with Wickens to win twice last year. “Robert was pushing me hard, and I wanted to try to keep a gap, but he kept closing in and trying to get a bit more. … It was cued up perfectly. This is special.”
After Filippi wrested the lead from Gottsacker near the end of their opening stints, Wickens pursued his former partner throughout the second half of the race, all while being chased by Ryan Eversley. Eversley held on for third place in the #37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic FL5, the car making its series debut that co-driver Mat Pombo had put on the pole Friday.
The series will resume at Watkins Glen on June 23/24.
Laguna Seca – Race
1. M. Wilkins/M. Filippi (Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Elantra N), 73 laps
2. R. Wickens/H. Gottsacker (Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai Elantra N), 1.257
3. R. Eversley/M. Pombo (LA Honda World Racing, Honda Civic Type R FL5), 1.786
1. M. Wilkins/M. Filippi, 950 pts; 2. R. Wickens/H. Gottsacker, 890; 3. M. LaMarra/W. Tally, 810
Picture: IMSA/LAT Images