Saturday’s inaugural TCR race dominated by Hyundai drivers
AUSTIN, Texas (March 24, 2018) – It was a dominant performance for Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins Saturday at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) in the inaugural running of the all-new TCR class in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Texas with an impressive 1-2 finish in their Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR cars.
The 40-minute TCR sprint event at the 3.427-mile, 20-turn road course was the first TCR event held with the Pirelli World Challenge road racing series and the two Hyundai i30 N TCR competitors were the class of the 14-car field at the drop of the green flag Saturdayafternoon.
Earlier in the day, Wilkins captured the pole position in qualifications with the No. 99 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR and looked to be the favorite in the Round 1 event. Wilkins, the veteran racer from Mulmur, Ont., Canada, also led the TCR practice sessions on Friday at COTA after his car made its first appearance on Thursday in testing. The car had not turned a wheel before the COTA test runs.
Wilkins, from the pole, and Lewis, from the outside front row, went side-by-side into turn one at the top of the hill at the famed COTA circuit, but Lewis, the 27-year-old Laguna Beach, Calif., driver, used a strong line into turn two and grabbed the lead in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR. Wilkins kept his teammate honest throughout the 17-lap feature and right on his car’s rear bumper.
In fact, Lewis had to slow on the final lap for lapped traffic and Wilkins tried the inside in turn one for a pass. But the youngster didn’t waver and held his margin in taking the checkered flag by 1.137 seconds.
“Mark was able to beat me in qualifying and we had clean race into turn two at the start of the race,” said Lewis. “Under breaking, he was better than me and he was pushing me. The Hyundai i30 N TCR was good throughout the race and we need to consider tire life after this race. On the last lap, I saw a lapped car going very slow in a yellow flag area and I couldn’t pass him. Finally, I was able to get by the car and hold off Mark on the final lap for the win. It’s a big team effort and want to thank everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport, Hyundai and my teammate Mark.”
“We were side by side in turn one and the track was a little dirty outside of turn two,” said Wilkins. “I didn’t want to press the issue. It was a great 1-2 result for the Hyundai i30 N TCR in its North America debut and we are thrilled with that. It is a start of a great new class and a great product. We did have some issues today with tire degradation and we have been learning every session since we didn’t test before last week. All in all, a great result for the N brand for Hyundai and for Bryan Herta Autosport. And I’ll start from the pole again on Sundaytoo.”
Veteran road racer Ryan Eversley of Atlanta, Ga., took third in the No.43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR with Denmark’s Martin Jensen fourth in the No. 70 Alfatcr.USA Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR.
Sunday’s Round 2 sprint race at COTA is scheduled at 12:25 p.m. CDT with Wilkins and Lewis starting on the front row with their identical Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR machines. The event will be live streamed on www.world-challenge.com.
SOURCE: Bryan Herta Autosport