Notlad Racing secure a dramatic race win at latest round of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge

Sunday, June 27, 2021


Incredible scenes at the latest round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series at Watkins Glen last night that saw all three Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4’s lead the four-hour race on merit and for one to come through to steal the top step with just minutes to go.

Racing under the baking sun of the up-state New York circuit, yesterday’s Qualifying had seen the series guesting #23 Notlad Racing AMR of Pat Gallagher take a P3 starting position behind two front line McLaren 570’s. The #09 Stoner Car Care with Automatic AMR of Brandon Kidd was next fastest in P7 with the bright yellow #7 Volt Racing with Archangel Aston of Alan Brynjolfsson an uncharacteristic P9.

Again running as part of a combined grid of twenty four GS (GT4) cars and fourteen TCR cars, it was the #23 car of Gallagher who made the most significant move on the opening lap to claim P2 whilst the two McLarens were squabbling for position on track whilst the #09 and #7 cars each lost a position on track relative to their starting position.

Just fifteen minutes into the four-hour race, the first caution period was thrown for a self-inflicted high-speed impact with the tyre wall for the #46 Team TGM Camaro that left debris strewn across the track. Thankfully, the driver was OK and was also to drive the wreck of his car to a place of safety which helped to shorten that FCY.

At the restart, Gallagher strangely dived into pit lane for a splash from P2 but was soon able to catch the pack again as the field again went under caution for another car stuck in the gravel. Whilst the other GS runners would then pit once pit lane opened, the #23 would stay out as they were now running on a different strategy.

Just after the first hour mark, a more significant incident on track involving a GS and TCR car in two singular accidents at the same place would to a further (and longer) period of caution whilst drivers were seen to, and debris fields cleared. Kidd in the #09 then assumed the lead with Gallagher down in P12 and the #7 car having swapped to Trent Hindman in P15.

Back to green and then back to caution seemed to be the theme of the event whilst Hindman and Gallagher trading fastest laps in-between before Stevan McAleer finally got his turn aboard the #23 car from the lead of the race.

At the three-hour mark, McAleer made the cars final stop of the race giving the race lead to Hindman but the #7 Volt Racing crew were to come to the attention of the Stewards as they pitted marginally after another FCY weas called for a stranded TCR and barrier damage. Whilst the cars circulated around behind the Safety car, Stewards later awarded the #7 car with a Drive Through Penalty for that act and that would cost them a chance of winning the race.

Going back to green with just 16 minutes remaining, it was a straight forward dice between the #95 Turner BMW for the win and all it was was the smallest of mistakes from Bill Auberlain to let McAleer through with just three minutes remaining for the #23 Notlad Racing car to take an emotional (and first) win in the IMSA Series.

The #7 would eventually finish P8 overall with the #09 car done in P23 after they also received a Drive Through for an earlier pit stop transgression.

Photo credits – Teams

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