Two races after a hard-earned maiden victory for longtime IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competitors Team TGM, the team’s No. 46 Mercedes-AMG GT4 and co-drivers Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb returned to victory lane in a challenging Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway.
A brief rainstorm early in the race that drenched half of the 3.27-mile VIR circuit wreaked havoc with the race strategy for many of the teams, but it ended up playing right into the hands of Team TGM. While many opted to switch to rain tires, Trinkler bravely opted to remain on the standard dry-weather slicks from Continental Tire.
As the course dried, Trinkler worked his way forward and took the lead for the first time with just over one hour remaining in the race when Andrew Davis brought the race-leading No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R onto pit lane.
Trinkler surrendered the lead with slightly more than 46 minutes remaining when he pitted to turn the car over to Plumb, and for most of the next half hour, the battle for the lead came down to Robin Liddell – who had taken over in the No. 71 from Davis – and Jesse Lazare in the No. 69 Motorsports In Action McLaren GT4.
But with 14 minutes remaining, both Lazare, who took the lead when Trinkler pitted, and Liddell came to pit road for one last splash of fuel. Plumb, on the other hand, had plenty of fuel to make it to the finish without another pit stop and he cruised to victory 6.046 seconds over Lazare.
It was Plumb’s fourth Continental Tire Challenge victory at VIR and the eighth of his career in the series, while it was Trinkler’s second VIR win and 11th in the series. Trinkler won the Street Tuner (ST) class last year with then-co-driver Sarah Cattaneo.
The victory also enabled them to extend their lead in the Grand Sport (GS) class standings to 18 points, 226-208, over No. 60 Roush Performance/KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 co-drivers Kyle Marcelli and Nate Stacy, who finished sixth in Saturday’s race.
“VIR is a special place, we won here last year and to repeat is awesome,” Trinkler said. We never went to rain tires, we made a great strategy call. The front side of the track was just horrible from Turn 1 all the way to about Turn 7, but the back side was dry. They said just keep it on the track.
“We were talking about coming down and taking rains, but I said give me another lap and let me see. I was just checking the track out and the line was coming back. I knew if we pitted it would ruin our day. I’m just say happy for [team owner] Ted [Giovanis] and everyone at Team TGM. We’re just doing our thing.”
Lazare and co-driver Corey Fergus combined to lead a race-high 21 laps of the 59-lap race to finish second and take their first podium result of the season. It was their second consecutive top-five run after they finished fifth two weeks ago at Road America.
Series veterans Davis and Liddell came home third in their first race in the No. 71 Camaro after returning to the Continental Tire Challenge this weekend with Rebel Rock Racing.
Koch, O’Gorman Put eEuroparts.com Racing Into TCR Victory Lane for First Time in No. 12 Audi
Tom O’Gorman won his second consecutive Motul Pole Award in TCR class qualifying on Friday, and on Saturday, he and co-driver Kenton Koch converted that pole to the first Continental Tire Challenge victories for themselves and the eEuroparts.com Racing team.
It was anything but a flag-to-flag win, however, as O’Gorman made a trip into the tire barrier during the early race rainstorm. Undeterred, O’Gorman eventually got the No. 12 Audi RS3 LMS TCR back on course and he and Koch methodically worked their way back to the front as many of their competitors encountered their own issues.
It took just seven laps for the No. 12 to get back to the head of the TCR field after the early incident, and Koch claimed the lead from Tom Long in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS TCR for the final time with 15 laps remaining. Koch and O’Gorman went on to win by a lap over the No. 74 Compass Racing Audi pairing of Kuno Wittmer and Rodrigo Sales.
“It’s a joy to finally break through that glass ceiling and to get that first win,” O’Gorman said. “It’s a lot of tension building up to the first win and once you get it it’s a sigh of a relief and you can really focus on getting more. We’re hoping to finish off the rest of the season with this momentum. Huge props to my co-driver Kenton Koch to bring home the car. We had some struggles in my stint, but I think we had the least struggles in the field. It was a really, really challenging race so it’s even more rewarding to win this one.”
The runner-up result for Wittmer and Sales bolstered their TCR points lead to four, 257-253, over co-drivers Long and Britt Casey Jr. with two races remaining this season. Long and Casey came home third in the No. 77.
Faulkner, Rabe Score First Continental Tire Challenge Win In ST After Penalty
No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman co-drivers Max Faulkner and Jason Rabe took their first Continental Tire Challenge race victory when the No. 52 MINI JCW Team entry co-driven by Colin Mullan and Mark Pombo that crossed the finish line first in class was penalized due to a technical infraction.
Post-race technical inspection revealed that the No. 52 exceeded maximum boost pressure and was moved to last in class.
Faulkner and co-driver Rabe earned their fifth podium result of the season in the ST class with the victory. ST class points leaders Nick Galante and Devin Jones finished second in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i. The No. 81 team was elevated to third post-race when the No. 37 MINI shared by Nate Norenberg and Derek Jones encountered a drive-time infraction and then moved to second following the penalty to the No. 52.
Mat Pombo and Mike LaMarra wound up third in the No. 73 MINI JCW entry. Galante and Jones are now 13 points ahead of Mat Pombo and LaMarra, 257-244.
Next up for the Continental Tire Challenge is the penultimate round of the 10-race season at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, Sept. 8. The two-hour race will be streamed live starting at 6:05 p.m. EDT on IMSA.tv with audio commentary from IMSA Radio, which also can be heard on RadioLeMans.com.
The television broadcast of the Biscuitville Grand Prix will air on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 12:00 Noon ET on FS1.