Michael Lewis collected his second Pirelli World Challenge TCR main event victory in the TCR class 40-minute event Saturday at Lime Rock Park, and the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR drivers scored a big points day in the PWC TCR doubleheader at the Connecticut road circuit.
Lewis, driving the No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N sedan, started from the pole position in the Round 6 feature at the famed 1.5-mile, seven-turn road circuit and ran wire-to-wire in defeating his BHA Hyundai i30 N teammate Mark Wilkins by 1.124 seconds at the checkered flag.
“This weekend we came in thinking we weren’t going to be the strongest due to the changes in BoP (Balance of Performance),” said Lewis. “It ended up being OK, but we couldn’t make any mistakes. Mark (Wilkins) executed great in qualifying and race 1. I did some qualifying antics in race 1 to get pole position for race 2 because that seemed to be the only way for me to get a win. That was my plan and it pretty much ended up working out.
“Our team orders are to bring the cars home in 1 and 2, and not take each other out, but we are expected to race. (Mark) was giving a lot of respect there and had a few runs, but my directive was to just pretend it was anybody there and to block to prevent the winning. I think switching from a rear wheel drive to front wheel drive car is a big mental transition. After driving the car for a few laps your instincts on how to drive and how to drive fast take over, so it was a really quick transition for me.”
Wilkins, a two-time 2018 TCR race winner at COTA and VIR, came home Saturday with two second place finishes at Lime Rock Park and closed in the TCR point lead with the No. 99 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR machine. The Canadian placed second to current point leader Ryan Eversley in the first Lime Rock Park contest and finished runner-up to Lewis in the nightcap.
“Michael drove a perfect race in the afternoon with his Hyundai,” said Wilkins. “I tried to get by him a couple of times, but he wasn’t going to allow it. It was a big point scoring weekend for the Bryan Herta Autosport team. This is a tricky place to race and the short weekend schedule can catch you out sometimes. Now, we move onto the Portland weekend (July 13-15) with a tight TCR point race.”
In addition to his victory Saturday, Lewis also finished third in the Saturday TCR opener behind Eversley and Lewis.
So far, team owner Bryan Herta is having a great Memorial weekend of racing with his son, Colton, taking Friday’s Freedom 100 Indy Lights at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and then Lewis capturing the TCR Round 6 at Lime Rock Park Saturday. Now, it’s onto Sunday and the “Greatest Spectacle in Racing” with the 102nd Indy 500. Bryan will call the shots for Mario Andretti and the No. 98 IndyCar as chief strategist.
The Pirelli World Challenge TCR Rounds 7 and 8 now move to the Pacific Northwest for the annual Rose Cup Races on July 13-15 where Lewis and Wilkins seek more 2018 TCR wins.