Michelin Pilot Challenge goes down to the wire at season finale for Kohr Motorsport

Sunday, November 01, 2020

The results of yesterday’s penultimate round of the 2020 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge from the iconic Weathertech Raceway Laguna Seca takes the title chase down to the wire for the #60 Kohr Motorsport Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 at the final round of the season at the equally challenging Sebring International Raceway in two weeks time.

Despite drivers Nate Stacey and Kyle Marcelli taking another podium finish in third place by the end of yesterday’s two-hour race, their main Championship contender had a stronger weekend which took them from pole to eventual race winners to narrow their points deficit to just fifteen ahead of the final round in Florida.

Laguna Seca also saw the new AMR convertees, Archangel Motorsport return with their rebuilt and highly distinctive AMR Vantage GT4 (not a new chassis we have on good authority from those at CSJ Motorsport and contrary to what the race commentators said) having taken delivery of their new car just ahead of the last round at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta only for their Gentleman driver Alan Brynjolfsson to have a sizeable ‘off’ on the opening laps.

Having realised his mistake at Road Atlanta as soon as he had made it, Brynjolfsson qualified the yellow #7 car in an equally career best P5 whilst AMR Academy Driver Stacey would be on the front row in P2 and alongside the Championship chasing #39 Carbahn Audi.

Unfortunately the opening half hour of the race descended into something undesirable as first a multi car collision at the first corner of the first laps which sadly eliminated at least two TCR cars on the spot with subsequent debris falling off those impaired by that collision (as well as other later but still avoidable impacts) lead to only five racing laps being completed within that time period.

The #7 car elected to pit early for a top up in fuel and new tyres as the top five (including Stacey in P2) remained out on older rubber and that would eventually mean that those who pitted would only be a few cars back in the Safety Car train by the time the race eventually went back to green. By the end of the first hour, over half that race time was lost to periods of track cautions!

Eventually the race got back to green and what happened after that proved why GT4 racing is so exciting and unpredictable despite the cars tight balancing of performance. Whilst the #39 Audi controlled the pace from the front, Stacey was certainly able to keep their advisory in visual contact as each would have to pit for a driver change and avoid any foul in driver minimum times – something that excluded the #39 from the results of Road Atlanta two weeks ago.

Pitting from second just after the hour mark, Stacey handed the #60 car over to Kyle Marcelli for the race to the flag and having pitted two laps prior to the Audi he was able to easily pass the #39 car for position as it exited pit lane on cold tyres. Ahead of them both Brynjolfsson eventually brought his #7 car into pit lane and for Trent Hindman’s first racing laps within the Aston having missed out at Road Atlanta.

Going into the final half hour, it wasn’t known if the #60 car would need to pit again for a splash and dash so when Marcelli’s pace obviously slowed slightly, it was clear that he was in a fuel save mode to the end although it did still take an error on his part (going wide at the bottom of the corkscrew) for the chasing Archangel and Carbahn cars to pass him for the lead two places in the race going into the final corner.

With the lead now lost, the #60 car just needed to finish to secure vital Championship points and considering their then 20-point advantage going into the race – the pressure wasn’t on them as the Audi needed to pass Hindman to maximise their points haul going into Sebring.

Unfortunately for the #7 crew, that pass appeared easy for the #39 Audi along the start straight to commence the final lap of the race with the Audi being the best car of the weekend performance wise and completed their otherwise effective lights to flag win.

A podium none the less for Brynjolfsson and Hindman in only their second race with their AMR Vantage GT4 and another podium for the #60 crew of Stacey and Marcelli.

With these results waiting to be confirmed by the Series, it appears that the #60 cars point advantage going into Sebring has been reduced to 15 points and just a handful of points into between Aston Martin Racing, Audi and Mercedes Benz for the Manufacturers Championship. 

With 35 points still on offer the Sebring’s race winner – winner takes all really!!

Photo credits – IMSA / CSJ Motorsport / Kohr / Archangel
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