Volt Racing claim their first podium of the year after another exciting Michelin Pilot Challenge race

Friday, March 18, 2022


It was another exciting and dramatic round of the Michelin Pilot Challenge Series yesterday as over forty GS and TCR cars battled it out at the second round of the series with a two-hour race around the 3.7-mile former wartime airfield circuit of the Sebring International Raceway.

After some mixed weather running earlier in the week the grid, race day yesterday was at least warm and dry as the four Aston Martin Racing powered teams looked to make up on ground lost from the opening round of the season at Daytona in January.

The #7 Volt Racing car of Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman was at the front of the pack after Qualifying, starting from P5 whilst the #12 NTE Sport prepared car of Manni Franco and Josh Hurley who both had a much better run this time around to claim P9 at the start. The two Bronze Cup runners from the Automatic Racing team had Ramin Abdolvahabi and Rob Ecklin claim P18 overall / P2 in class over the #27 car of Paul Kiebler and Jon Branam who would start from P25/P4 in class in only their second IMSA sanctioned race together.

Indeed, we would later learn that the #27 crew have now committed to a full season of the Series as did the NTE Sport team crew did after Daytona.

With the Porsche 718 GT4 having been slowed by means of an increased base weight and smaller fuel capacity, the chances of them being able to stretch an unassailable lead would be reduced – that it did and made for another cracking race in-between the multiple periods of full course caution.

The first of those was unfortunately for the #27 car of Kiebler who tried to get past an Audi at the hairpin on only the second lap – that move resulted in contact between the two and broken front suspension and steering for the Aston.

Getting back to green, the #7 and the #12 cars were having great battles for position as both Brynjolfsson and Franco won some and then lost some (positions on grid) to effectively hold station to that of their start positions.

After thirty minutes of running, an incident between a Toyota GT4 and a TCR lead for another short period of caution which allowed many GS cars to pit for fuel/tyres (as permitted to do so) instead of maybe having to stop again later.

Back to racing but quickly a prolonged period of caution as a serious incident between another GT4 and TCR lead to another large debris field and tyre wall damage that needed to be repaired. At that point, only seven of the competed twenty race laps had been completed under green!

Fortunately, both drivers were able to walk away but the FCY did lose over thirty minutes on the race clock before getting back to green at which point the Am drivers minimum time had all been served and there was a mad rush for the pit lane.

The #12 NTE Sport car had already gambled on pitting early and only time would tell if Hurley could improve upon their present P12 position but for the final half hour of the race, more terrific battles within the GS class would prevail as racy looking Hindman counted off the cars lap after lap.

Another FCY close to the end for an Audi nosed dived into the tyre wall gave us a two-lap dash to the flag to complete the second round of the year, and with that one of the best final laps that you would care to watch as Hindman finally secured second overall at the chequered flag, claiming their first podium of the year.

Hurley also improved upon their position at the end in claiming P10 overall after their DNF at Daytona with Ecklin bringing home the #09 car P21 overall but importantly P2 in the Bronze Cup.

Photo credits - Teams
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