The Hyundai duo of Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis continued their impressive 2018 TCR debut with a 1-2 finish Saturday for the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian team in the TCR Round 7 race for the 58th Rose Cup Races featuring the Pirelli World Challenge presented by Honda Racing/HPD at Portland International Raceway.
It marked the fifth win in seven races for the BHA contingent after Wilkins and Lewis had each collected two victories entering the PWC return to PIR for the first time in 13 years.
While the story is good for Wilkins and Lewis in their No. 99 and No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N hatchbacks respectively, the whole story did not include them. Current TCR point leader Ryan Eversley started on the pole in his No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR and led the 31 laps for most of the 40-minute race under beautiful Northwest skies.
However, traffic posed a problem for Eversley while he was in the top position, and both Wilkins and Lewis were able to slip by in the event. Despite his third place, Eversley still holds the TCR point lead entering Sunday’s Round 8 set for 10:40 a.m. PDT.
At the finish, Wilkins took the checkered flag by 0.963 seconds over Lewis with Eversley back another 1.674 seconds. With the fastest lap in the race, Lewis will gain the pole position for Sunday’s TCR Round 8 contest.
“The Hyundai was great today and I feel for Ryan in the traffic,” said Wilkins after his third 2018 TCR win. “These TCR cars are blast to drive. It’s hard racing with top notch drivers too. And to have Michael Cooper jump into the Honda is great for this weekend also. He is a champion driver. We need to keep our heads down and find a little speed for Sunday’s race. This track is fun but also tight, so you have to be cautious at times. It was a flat out sprint today. I wasn’t conserving tires. I was just running hard to stay with Ryan. There was nothing out there.”
“It was some fun racing today and I was just trying to conserve my tires for a run at the end,” said Lewis. “It got really exciting when Ryan got caught up in the slower traffic and that allowed Mark and I to fight for the lead. We had a lot of people from Hyundai here to cheer us on. So, the 1-2 finish was very popular for all who were in attendance. It’s great to have that support as well as having clean, tight racing today. It’s fun for the drivers, teams and fans.”
“I think we all had a similar pace today, but the traffic really caused a big problem for me,” said Eversley, a two-time TCR race winner this year. “The traffic was the worst we have had this year, as some of the guys just didn’t look in their mirrors. I had a nice lead but, with the slower traffic, Mark and Michael were able to catch me and get by me. We’ll take third today and move on to Sunday’s race. It’s fun to drive this TCR cars. And these cars are the closest to what are in our parking lot this weekend. I think we put on some really good racing for the fans too. We have a standing start for Sunday and those are always exciting.”
Fourth in the TCR division Saturday at PIR was former GTS and GT SprintX champion Michael Cooper in the No. 44 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR followed by former TCA champion Matt Fassnacht in the No. 74 Murillo Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS.
In the TCA division, young Jeff Sexton drove his No. 89 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS to his first 2018 victory with second going to former TCA champion Tom O’Gorman in the No. 94 TOMO Racing Honda Civic Si and third to Moisey Uretsky in the No. 55 Murillo Racing Mazda Global MX-5 Cup.
“I was staying conservative at the beginning and waited to see how things would shake out after the start,” said Sexton. “I knew the race would come to me at the end. It was unfortunate for Eric (Powell, Sexton’s Subaru teammate who retired from the event). I was able to capitalize at the end to get the win. Tom O’Gorman was running a good race behind Eric and was able to get by him late for the lead. I was able to use the traffic to my advantage for the win. It is exciting.”
1,1, TCR,Mark WILKINS,Mulmur, ON,CAN,Hyundai I30 N TCR,31,Running,41:15.748,
2,2, TCR,Michael LEWIS,Laguna Beach, CA,USA,Hyundai I30 N TCR,31,Running,41:16.711,0.963
3,3, TCR,Ryan EVERSLEY,Atlanta, GA,USA,Honda Civic Type-R TCR,31,Running,41:18.385,2.637
4,4, TCR,Michael COOPER,Greenwich, CT,USA,Honda Civic Type-R TCR,31,Running,41:19.254,3.506
5,5, TCR,Matt FASSNACHT,Lancaster, PA,USA,Audi Sport RS3 LMS,31,Running,41:31.323,15.575
6,6, TCR,Michael HURCZYN,Granby, CT,USA,Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR,31,Running,41:53.535,37.787
7,7, TCR,Mason FILIPPI,Alamo, CA,USA,Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR,31,Running,41:54.588,38.840
8,8, TCR,Nate VINCENT,Pomfret, CT,USA,Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR,31,Running,42:06.004,50.256
9,9, TCR,JT COUPAL,Bloomfield, NY,USA,Audi Sport RS3 LMS,31,Running,42:17.449,1:01.701
10,10, TCR,Dwight MERRIMAN,New York, NY,USA,Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR,31,Running,42:25.291,1:09.543
11,11, TCR,Anthony GERACI,Glen Head, NY,USA,Audi Sport RS3 LMS,29,Running,41:27.546,2 LAPS
12,1, TCA,Jeff SEXTON,Austin, TX,USA,Subaru BRZ tS,28,Running,41:30.820,3 LAPS
13,2, TCA,Tom O’GORMAN,Mason, OH,USA,Honda Civic Si,28,Running,41:32.066,3 LAPS
14,3, TCA,Moisey URETSKY,Yekaterinburg, RU,RUS,Mazda Global Mx5 Cup,28,Running,41:48.201,3 LAPS
15,4, TCA,Breton WILLIAMS,Clinton, Iowa,USA,Subaru BRZ tS,28,Running,42:04.941,3 LAPS
16,5, TCA,Spencer PATTERSON,Pittsburgh, PA,USA,Subaru BRZ tS,28,Running,42:42.818,3 LAPS
17,6, TCA,Jenny GANNETT,Steamboat Springs, CO,USA,Mazda Global Mx5 Cup,28,Running,42:43.350,3 LAPS
18,7, TCA,Eric POWELL,Atlanta, GA,USA,Subaru BRZ tS,20,Not Running,29:28.069,11 LAPS
19,12, TCR,Jarett ANDRETTI,Indianapolis, IN,USA,Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR,16,Not Running,22:26.476,15 LAPS
20,8, TCA,P.J. GROENKE,Richmond Hill, ON,CAN,Subaru BRZ tS,10,Not Running,19:54.070,21 LAPS