Best performance to date from AMR teams in Michelin Pilot Challenge

Saturday, March 20, 2021

Sebring and the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge again provided us all with another highly exciting two hours of mixed GT4 and TCR class racing yesterday as thirty-five cars thundered again the infamously bumpy former military airbase circuit.

Yesterday’s Qualifying had seen a great performance from the two participating Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4’s from both Volt Racing/Archangel Motorsport and the Stoner Car Care/Automatic Racing teams however the third placed #7 Volt car of Alan Brynjolfsson was soon to be penalised for a technical infringement on the cars suspension post Qualifying. That would see them start from the rear of the GS field whilst the #09 Automatic car of a deputising Brandon Kidd would start from P7.

With weather systems of no concern this year, the race opening under clear blue skies and sunshine with high track temperatures that would prove problematic for some at the compulsory stops. Early gains from Brynjolfsson got him up the order whilst Kidd consolidated their starting position as the opening laps passed by.

Trouble soon hit the #7 car in their over exuberance to get forward with rear end contact with the #18 Toyota – contact and damage that would see that car sadly pit and retire as well as an action that would earn the #7 with a drive through penalty and a return to the rear of the GS field to boot.

After forty minutes of racing the pit window opened with the #7 car first to come in from the pair of AMR’s with Brynjolfsson giving way to Trent Hindman, soon followed by Kidd after a terrific debut drive at the circuity for the team. Automatic would later report that the #09 car had suffered a puncture during Kidd’s stint but that didn’t appear noticeable on his performance.

Just after these cars had pitted, the race suffered its first FCY caution period as tyre carcasses were left strewn around the track. During this period (as having pitted with 1hr 16mins left to go) the #7 car pitted for fuel to help any longer fuel stop later in the race. Rob Ecklin, now aboard the #09 was now getting muscled out by the younger/better drivers and they would drop from the high of P2 during the start of the pit stop cycle and their average position of P8 during Kidd’s stint down to P13.

Back to green with just under an hour remaining quickly saw a flying Hindman hit the top 10 for the first time claiming the fastest lap of the race so before (just 15 minutes later of their last stop)  pit again for a final splash to fuel him to the end.

As the final fifteen minutes counted by, Ecklin was holding onto P13 in his Stoner Car Care company liveried GT4 whilst Hindman out front was chasing down the car in front for P3 overall. Sadly for them, time ran out and they had to ‘settle’ for an incredible P4 finish after their earlier demotion to the rear of the grid and subsequent drive through. Automatic would later state third party contact for Ecklin hampered any chance of progression during his stint.

Each result was an improvement on their last at the opening race at Daytona as the series moves onto Mid-Ohio in mid-May!

Photo credits – CSJ Motorsport / IMSA / Team
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