Point leader Ryan Eversley held off the constant challenge of Michael Lewis to collect his fourth TCR class victory of the year Saturday at Watkins Glen International in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Watkins Glen presented by TM Performance.
Eversley, driving the No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R, started from the pole Saturday in the 40-minute sprint contest and grabbed the lead immediately at the drop of the green flag. But Lewis, starting third in the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR, never let Eversley get away during the 18-lap race at the famed 3.4-mile road circuit.
Both drivers raced bumper-to-bumper and wheel-to-wheel in a spectacular demonstration of driving control as their machines danced over the corner berms while just inches apart. At the checkered flag, Eversley defeated Lewis by 0.221 seconds.
“It was great race — battled with Michael the entire time — and excited put the Civic Type R TCR car on the top step for our RealTime Racing team,” said Eversley, who now leads the TCR points by nine entering Sunday’s Round 12 race. “We scored important points in the drivers’ championship with one race to go, and thanks to Michael for a tough, clean race and all the support from Honda and HPD. Really looking forward to our final race tomorrow.”
For Lewis, the runner-up finish wasn’t a disappointment as he set the fastest race lap and will start from the pole in Sunday’s Round 12 event set for 3:25 p.m. ET at Watkins Glen.
“That was a fun race,” said Lewis. “It was a really good time to race that way against Ryan and have that level of trust between us, especially going into some brake zones. So, congratulations to him and his team, they definitely deserve it. For us, the Bryan Herta Autosport team was definitely working so hard during practice to get the car going and set up well. We had the first objective to get one point for fastest lap and we did that and that was pretty cool and the next item on the list was to try to win the race. That was a little bit harder and I did have the car to win, but I just couldn’t make it happen. There was some overlap from Ryan’s lines to mine and I tried to use that to my advantage. Good points day, fun race, and good to get the fast lap point to start on pole for Race 2.”
Third went to Mason Filippi in the No. 44 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR followed by Mark Wilkins in No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR and teenager J.T. Coupal in the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi Sport RS3 LMS.
In the TCA category, series point leader Tom O’Gorman recorded his sixth race win of the year in his No. 94 TOMO Racing Honda Civic Si and clinched the TCA series championship Saturday.
Placing runner-up to O’Gorman Saturday was Spencer Patterson in the No. 79 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS followed by Travis Washay in the No. 30 Indian Summer Racing Volkswagen Golf GTI and P.J. Groenke in the No. 25 TechSport Racing Subaru BRZ tS.
“We had to hold on from the celebrations too much, but it means a ton to clinch the driver’s championship,” said O’Gorman. “The Civic Si is built for this track. The car is just magic around here. It loves the high-speed flowing long-radius stuff, it pulls up the hill great. I didn’t get the greatest start. But everything went perfectly our way. We couldn’t have run a better race and the car couldn’t have been set up any better. We’re just going to try to repeat that tomorrow from pole and try to clinch those two other championships.”