TCR Talk Reviews: 2019 TC America – Watkins Glen

Race 1

TC America Race 1 was held under the late afternoon sun at Watkins Glen International with Michael McCann Jr and his #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS leading the field to the green flag.  At turn 1 to start the race, championship leader Michael Hurczyn would get his #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI around the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo of James Walker to grab third position.  A few corners later, Mason Filippi and the #12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N would leap past McCann for the lead, just prior to a full course caution being called for a heavy incident by Nick Wittmer’s #91 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS just two minutes into the forty minute event.

The race went back to green with 22 minutes left on the clock with Filippi leading McCann in TCR and Tyler Maxson in the #74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup leading Mark Pombo’s #59 MINI Cooper JCW in TCA.

Heading into the bus stop with 19 minutes remaining, McCann was able to slip past Filippi for the TCR lead with the top five running within 1 second of each other.  McCann would slowly draw away from the rest of the field and go on to take his first TCR win of the season.

At the same time, Mark Pombo was able to get past Maxson going into the bus stop and take the lead in TCA.  Pombo would never look back and go on to take the class victory, his second of the season.  Behind Pombo the TCA class would finish with Maxson in second and Taylor Hagler third in the #77 X-Factor Racing Honda Civic Si.

With 13 minutes left on the clock, Nate Vincent and his #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI was able to get past both Hurczyn and Filippi to claim second position.  Shortly after, championship leader Hurczyn would follow Vincent past Filippi for third.  With under 2 minutes remaining Hurczyn would make his run at Vincent, but came just short and had to settle for the final podium position.

The TCR Cup victory would go to the #41 TWOth Autosport Audi RS3 LMS of Travis Hill with the #18 EXR Team by Premat Audi RS3 LMS of Stephen Vajda second and Christian Cole in the #27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS third.


Race 2

TCR championship leader Michael Hurczyn and his #71 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI lead the TC America field to the green flag with race 1 winner, Michael McCann Jr and the #3 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS, quickly moving past Nate Vincent in the #72 FCP Euro VW Golf GTI for second place.  James Walker and the #34 Risi Competizione Alfa Romeo would also slip by Mason Filippi’s #12 Copeland Motorsports Hyundai Veloster N for fourth.  Filippi would need to pit for a mechanical issue a few minutes later, essentially ending his race.

With 27 minutes remaining, Michael McCann Jr would take the lead after slip-streaming past Hurczyn going into the bus stop and instantly gap the field, pulling a 1.2 second lead.  McCann would go on to cruise to the overall victory, his second of the weekend.  “It was a really good weekend.  The Audi had really good pace, especially in a straight line.  The guys got the car ready and we made it happen!” said McCann.

In TCA, Mark Pombo and the #59 MINI Cooper JCW would lead from the start with Nate Norenberg in the #60 MINI Cooper JCW in second, Tomas Mejia in the #62 MINI Cooper JCW third with Tyler Maxson and the #74 Copeland Motorsports Mazda MX5 Cup fourth.  Taylor Hagler, who spun on lap 1 and fell to the back of the grid, would fight her way back through the field and find herself fifth in class with 20 minutes remaining.

Maxson would get past Mejia for third with 19 minutes left on the clock and would start his pursuit of Norenberg for second.  With 11 minutes left in the race, Maxson would catch and pass Norenberg going into turn 1 while Mejia would get past Norenberg on the next lap.  Later in the lap both Norenberg and Halger would suffer flat tires and retire.

Mark Pombo would control the TCA field and go on to take the class win with Tyler Maxson second, and Tomas Mejia third.  “Early in the season we had some trouble with the MINIs, but the guys at LAP Motorsports have really found something with the car and this weekend has saved our season,” said Pombo.  PJ Groenke in the #44 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS and Sally McNulty in the #780 TEAMSALLY Honda Civic Si would round out the top 5.

TCR Cup saw the #41 TWOTh Autosport Audi RS3 LMS of Travis Hill grab his second win of the weekend with Stephen Vajda and the #18 EXR Team by Premat Audi RS3 LMS finishing second and Christian Cole in the #27 McCann Racing Audi RS3 LMS third.

The TC America TCR/TCA classes will next be in action September 20th-22nd at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

TCR Talk Review: 2019 Michelin Pilot Challenge at Watkins Glen

Qualifying

Michael Lewis put the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Veloster on pole with a time of 1:56.888, nearly a half second faster than the #54 JDC Miller Audi RS3 LMS DSG of Michael Johnson.  Jay Salinsky and the #23 FAST MD Racing Audi RS3 LMS DSG was third quickest as the teams prepped for the 4-hour race.


Race

The #73 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic Type R TCR of Mike LaMarra and Matt Pombo took the victory after skating home in the rain on slick tires.  This was the third victory for a LA Honda World car this season after the sister #37 machine won the opening two rounds.  The pole-sitting #98 Hyundai would come home second with the #61 Roadshagger Racing by eEuroparts.com Audi RS3 LMS DSG of Gavin Ernstone and Jonathan Morley third, the pair’s second-straight podium finish.

With 35 minutes left in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at Watkins Glen, it was hard to imagine the Honda Civic of Matt Pombo and Mike La Marra would salvage a finish in the TCR class.

Pombo became a victim of the rain on slick tyres, skating into the Turn 11 barriers alongside a GS car to bring out a full course yellow. Running second at the time, Pombo was able to hold the position and continue on before restarting with around 15 minutes left.

Not having changed tyres, the Honda suffered early on the restart and Pombo watched the Hyundai Veloster N driven by Mark Wilkins pull away on wet tyres. But the track dried, and conditions came back to favour the Honda. After trailing the Hyundai by more than five seconds, Pombo captured the lead and sped off to an impressive 21-second victory.

Wilkins and co-driver Michael Lewis – the polesitter for the race – finished second, while sneaking into third, earning their second straight podium finish was the Audi RS 3 LMS of Gavin Ernstone and Jonathan Morley.

The tyres – especially the front left ones – were a decisive factor in the 4-hour race. After a blown tyre forced the championship-leading Honda of Tom O’Gorman and Shelby Blackstock to start from the back of the grid after a crash in Qualifying, a series of flat tyres resulted in incidents during the race.

Three Honda cars crashed at the very same corner: Matt Mullan’s, Chad Gilsinger’s and Todd Lamb’s; only the latter was able to rejoin. Michael Johnson’s Audi too was a victim and collected the other Audi of Nick Galante. The O’Gorman-Blackstock Honda crashed again but rejoined to finish fifth and so its drivers retained the lead in the standings, eight points clear of Lewis-Wilkins.

The Alfa Romeo Giulietta of Tim Lewis and Roy Block was classified sixth after fighting for the lead during the first two hours.

The #37 LA Honda World Racing Honda Civic still sits atop the championship standings with 122 points with the #98 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai second with 114.  The #12 eEuroparts.com Rowe Racing Audi sits third with 107, just ahead of their team #61 eEuroparts.com car with 104.

The Michelin Pilot Challenge series is next in action at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park in Bowmanville, Ontario on Saturday July 6th @ 1:45pm ET with the race streaming live on IMSA.TV.