Michael Lewis started from the pole position Saturday at Utah Motorsports Campus and never looked back in scoring his third 2018 TCR class win in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Utah Round 9 40-minute sprint road racing event.
Lewis drove his No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR car to the lead at the drop of the green flag at the 3.048-mile, 14-turn outer road circuit at UMC and led all 20 laps to score Hyundai’s sixth TCR win of the year. Lewis defeated his BHA Hyundai teammate Mark Wilkins by 2.613 seconds and current TCR point leader Ryan Eversley by a double-digit margin.
In the TCA division, another young racing star, Tom O’Gorman, scored his fourth class victory of the year in the No. 94 TOMO Racing Honda Civic Si over Eric Powell and Jeff Sexton.
Bryan Herta Autosport currently leads the TCR team point standings with three rounds remaining in the 12-event series. Hyundai is leading in the manufacturers standings also.
Lewis also recorded the fastest race lap Saturday with a one minute, 59.212 seconds (92.04mph) to secure the pole position for Sunday’s Round 10 sprint event.
“Big thank you to all the Hyundai service managers and all these other corporate members being here,” said Lewis. “It’s cool to get the win and see them cheering us on. Going to a front-wheel drive has definitely been something to learn. It’s been cool to see how Mark was driving, especially last race when he was quick in qualifying. On the driving side, the experience can get you most of the way there, but the rest of it is having good teammates and absorbing the information that’s around you and applying it.
“We’re trying to get points for Manufacturers’ championship and Team championship. As far as the Drivers’, if that works out for us, it’s cool but first and foremost is that we’re working hard for the Manufacturer and for the Team points.
Wilkins, also a three-time 2018 TCR race winner in the No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, pressured Lewis early in the race from his third starting position, but the Canadian racer settled for the runner-up slot at the checkered flag.
“It’s a great day for Hyundai — another 1-2,” said Wilkins. “Congrats to Michael. He did a great job in qualifying and took it all home to win the race. Overall everything was functioning as normal, the balance was still good and we just tried our best to stay out of trouble. This is big for Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai and all the support they’ve brought here today so it feels to good to win 1-2. All this week we’ve been making subtle changes to try to improve the balance, to get enough All in all, we made a few tweaks but it’s just a great platform to begin with. The track is technical, there’s a lot of variety, there are a lot of high-speeds and brake zones and the track lets you test all the aspects of the car.”
Eversley, a three-time race winner this year in the No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR, started second in the 40-minute contest but couldn’t hold off Wilkins challenge for second in turn one following the green flag. But the personable Atlanta racer still recorded his eighth podium finish in 2018.
Rounding out the top five in TCR Saturday at Utah was former TCA series champion Matt Fassnacht in the No. 74 Fooji/Murillo Raci.ng Audi RS3 LMS and Michael Hurczyn in the No. 71 FCP Euro by HRD Volkwagen Golf GT1 TCR. Jarett Andretti, in his first road racing season after several years in dirt sprint cars, scored his best TCR in 2018 with a sixth in the Copeland Motorsports/Tilton Racing Volkwagen Golf GT1 TCR.
“We had a welcome change of being the fastest car in a straight line this weekend for the first time,” said O’Gorman. “A ton of credit goes to the team to get it running on the front still and staying under me, even managing those tires. I was really starting to feel those tires with all the pressure during the middle of the race. We came in with a big points lead and now we’ll stretch it out a little more. The points game now isn’t necessarily to drive any differently, but really just to drive clean, because no one can afford a zero in points for a race.”
The TCR/TCA Round 10 event will be at 3 p.m. ET/1:00 p.m. MT Sunday.