Volt Racing fly the flag as the new Porsche dominates opening round of the Michelin Pilot Challenge Series

Saturday, January 29, 2022


The opening salvo of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series from Daytona International Speedway yesterday was just another exciting round of inter-class battles around the banked and infield layout of the Florida circuit but was sadly not one to necessarily remember for many of the Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 runners.

With forty-seven of the expected forty-eight entries eventually taking the green flag, it wasn’t too surprising to see the all-new Porsche 718 GT4 RS runners extended their Qualifying place lead on track to gap the main field of GS class runners even before the race was double digits minutes old so yesterday’s opener was always going to be an uphill battle for the clearly slower AMR teams.

Early laps from the more established Michelin Pilot Challenge crews of the #7 Volt Racing and Alan Brynjolfsson and the #09 Stoner Car Care of Ramin Abdolvahabi saw them each consolidate their race positions as the race quickly panned out into another exciting race for which we have become accustomed from the Series.

We also welcomed by the #27 Automatic Racing AMR of Jon Branam and Paul Kiebler to the series within its new Bronze Cup class as well as the #12 NTE Sport prepared AMR GT4 of a revised crew line up of Manny Franco, Josh Hurley and Tom Merrill.

Sadly, for both the #09 and #12 cars, early and suggestively persistent contact against the #09 car had them spinning out a couple of times to end their race prematurely back in the garage as the team tried to repair rear quarter suspension damage. Tried as they might, that damage would eventually see both Abdolvahabi and Rob Ecklin retire from the race.

For the new squad within the #12 car, their race too would end prematurely as a constant and unsustainable oil leak from the engine would also see then consigned to the garage at only just over the halfway mark of the four-hour opener. It will now be a question of time to see whether they confirm any full season continuation within the MPC Series this year or whether it would be just at ad-hoc rounds.

Unseen issues on track for the #27 Automatic car would see them eventually take the chequered flag in P36 overall and P27 in class albeit seventeen laps down to the leader whilst the #7 car from Volt Racing of Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman would come through to take a much-merited P7 overall finish at the end for some early Championship points.

Such was the dominance of this new Porsche was that there was only one other non-Porsche runner ahead of the yellow Aston Martin within the top seven which leaves us a little concerning as for the outcome of the Series next race at Sebring in mid-March.

It would be nice from our point of view if the Porsche was reigned in a little before Sebring but at the end of the day, we must salute the race winning attributes of former Aston racer Stevan McAleer aboard his RS1 prepared Porsche last night! Well done you!!

Photo credits - Teams
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