Mark Wilkins came back from disappointment on Saturday to score his second Pirelli World Challenge TCR race victory of the year Sunday in the Round 4 40-minute sprint race at VIRginia International Raceway in the PWC Grand Prix of Virginia presented by Audi Sport.
Wilkins, driving the No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, took over the top position on lap nine from his BHA Hyundai teammate Michael Lewis, who started from pole in the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR. Lewis, after finished second in Round 3 Saturday, had to retire from the event with a mechanical issue Sunday.
After Lewis’ retirement from the race, Wilkins opened his advantage over runner-up Ryan Eversley to 13 seconds with five laps remaining in the 40-minute contest. The COTA race winner then slowed his pace and took the checkered flag by 7.8 seconds to Eversley, who won Saturday’s Round 3 TCR race in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR car.
Eversley, who started third, had to come back from a first-lap incident where he slid into the grass near turn four. He has now recorded four consecutive podium finishes in the first four TCR races this year. Unofficially, Eversley holds the TCR point lead as the TCR class moves to Lime Rock Park for Rounds 5 and 6 on May 25-26.
Third on Sunday in TCR went to Jerimy Daniel in the No. 2 The Racing Company Audi Sport RS3 LMS followed by J.T. Coupal in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS and Denmark’s Martin Jensen in the No. 70 Alfacr.USA Alfa Romeo Giulietta TCR.
The top seven finishers Sunday in Round 4 were five different auto makes with Hyundai, Honda, Audi, Alfa Romeo and Volkswagen.
“It was a great day for Hyundai and the i30 N TCR,” said Wilkins. “Michael and I hadn’t done a whole lot of practice starts in the car, so we were a little nervous to be honest. We knew the car from Europe would get off the line quite well so if we could do it right from the driver’s seat, we’d be ok. We managed to have a good start, as did Ryan (Eversley) and it’s nice the whole field was on the hunt for the first standing start of the year.
“I love the standing starts. It’s a whole other element. It’s a tough day for Michael (Lewis). He drove really well. But that’s racing; there’s always going to be adversity.
“I must thank Bryan Herta Autosport, and all the crew guys since they haven’t had much sleep this weekend. We had a bit of a tough weekend. We found some issues that we didn’t expect. We had a great weekend at COTA and thought that things went smoothly, so coming here it seems like we had to fight a little more adversity and we had to fight for that. Kudos to the guys for late nights and early mornings. It takes a vigilant and great team to put this together and we have one.”
“I think it was our first standing start for World Challenge this whole year and we all got out of turn one,” said Eversley. “These cars are front-wheel drive, have a ton of power on cold tires. Michael Lewis was leading into turn one and I couldn’t see him, but I could see the other car and it looked kind of squirrely. I checked up, got sideways, and that gave a run to some of the other guys that were behind us. So, (I was) going into fourth side-by-side with Mark which you can do and then we got into four and I got into the grass.
“All in all, we rebounded and, fortunately Michael Lewis had a couple of mechanical issues that helped us get into second. I just put my head down and was trying to make the best of the traffic and catch Mark. This is the fourth podium in a row for us so we’re pretty excited. I don’t like to lose to anybody but if I had to lose to someone, I’m glad it was to Mark Wilkins.”
In the TCA division, Eric Powell held off a determined Travis Washay in a sensational race with his No. 95 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS for his second TCA win of the 2018 Pirelli World Challenge campaign.
Washay, in the No. 30 Indian Summer Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI, ran on Powell’s rear bumper before the Subaru driver took the checkered flag with a 0.261 second victory. Third went to Round 3 race winner Tom O’Gorman in the No. 94 TOMO Racing Honda Civic Si followed by Bryan Ortiz of Puerto Rico in the No. 4 Copeland Motorsports Mazda Global MX5 Cup and Spencer Patterson in the No. 79 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS.
“I was lucky enough to hold (Washay) off,” said Powell. “Washay was giving me constant pressure the whole time. That car is an absolute rocket ship down the straight-away so it took everything I had to hold on. All I could do with him was try to build the gap as big as I could through the low-speed stuff and hope that it’s enough to keep him behind me on the straightaways. He was able to get beside me in the braking zone, so that I’m happy I came out on top every time.”