An extra-ordinary race at Lime Rock gives Notlad Racing another podium in Michelin Pilot Challenge

Sunday, July 18, 2021

So nearly the double-double for the #23 Notlad Racing Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 team yesterday as they returned to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge again after their lights to flag victory last time out in the series at Watkins Glen.

Now confirmed as seeing out the IMSA season (except Laguna Seca) with their fresh new liveried Aston, Pat Gallagher was again the one who placed their car on pole position for yesterday’s two-hour race – maybe more with luck seeing that an incident behind him brought out an immediate red flag which curtailed that session but sometimes, you need a bit of luck.

The #7 Volt Racing Aston Martin of Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman were a team obviously unlucky with circuit events as they found themselves stuck down in a very uncharacteristic P9 for the race.

With thunderous rain already having affected set up for this weekend’s event, one eye was being kept on the weather radar as the ambient temperature rose steadily ahead of their late Saturday morning start.

With over thirty GS and TCR cars competing for track space around the 1.5 mile circuit, incident and accident was always going to be inevitable right from the off and it was only at the start of the third lap that the first (of many) full course cautions was thrown. Back to green and sure enough another FCY came out again as someone else got bumped off at turn one – fortunately all nothing too serious beyond race ending car damage for all.

Half an hour in and up to FCY number 3 and Gallagher still lead the race although the #7 car had taken a differing strategy to pit during the last caution before the #23 car eventually pitted just before the end of the first hour and after little full race speed mileage.

With the pack kept so close together with these FCY’s, Stevan McAleer came out behind the #95 BMW and despite the BMW having already served a drive through penalty for a start violation but just after the hour mark, McAleer eventually forced his way past to retake the lead again.

Taking his last stop with 45 minutes remaining, a stuck left front wheel delayed the #23 slightly and they came out just behind the #7 Volt car in P16 and P17 respectively but there were still TCR cars ahead that all the GS cars should be able to pass before the end. FCY No 4 came out with half an hour remaining and during the ‘back to green’ bumping and bashing around turn once again, the #23 came out of that in P3 but Hindman had suffered in traffic which dropped him back down to P11.

Getting back up to P2 and 9 seconds behind the race leading Mercedes, the #23 car was hindered again by yet another FCY that meant that the best that McAleer could do was to settle for second with the #4 car steaming up behind again in P4.

A great result for both teams as the Michelin Pilot Challenge now looks from the shortest course at Lime Rock to one of the longest at Road America next time out early next month.

Photo credits – IMSA / Team / F Lagunas
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