The BimmerWorld Racing team of James Clay, Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull won the GT4 Indianapolis 8 Hour race on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The ST Racing Team of Nick Wittmer, Jon Miller and Samantha Tan finished second, while GMG Racing’s Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, and Jason Bell completed the podium in third.
Mother Nature tested the abilities of all the teams and drivers, with rain falling as the 22-car combined World Challenge America and Indianapolis 8 Hour field completed their formation laps and persisting through most of the afternoon.
Andy Lee, in the No. 8 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4, led the 11-car GT4 field to green and into the lead. With threatening skies, and a number of teams gambling and starting on a dry race setup, the first three hours of the race saw a dizzying flurry of action both on track and on pit road as teams changed and adapted their race strategies to the evolving weather conditions, resulting in a numerous lead changes.
Joe Dalton, in the No. 33 Notlad Racing by RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4, led over Lee at the one-hour mark, with Parker Chase in the No. 25 CCR Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 pursuing in third.
At the two-hour mark, Wittmer in the No. 438 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 led over Dalton and Lee, while Lidell, in the No. 2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS M held the lead at the three-hour mark over Clay (No. 82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4) and James Sofronas in the No. 8 machine. Patrick Gallagher, now behind the wheel of the No. 33 Aston Martin, led over Hull now in the No. 82 machine, and Phil Bloom in the No. 26 Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 at the four hour mark. At the five hour mark, Hull held the lead over Gallagher and Bloom.
With just over two hours left in the contest, the BimmerWorld team began to pull away from the field with Hull building a lead to over one minute on Davis who was hounded by Wittmer.
Clay took over for Hull and with 1h40m remaining, leading by 48 seconds over Liddell now behind the wheel of the No. 2 Porsche. Liddell began to cut into Clay’s lead, now down to 41 seconds, with Miller third. Soon, though, Miller slipped past Liddell into second, and the ST Racing BMW began to cut into the lead, shaving the gap down to 33 seconds with just over an hour left in the race.
Entering the final hour, the sun finally peeked through the clouds, and Miller continued to cut into Clay’s lead. In the final round of stops, Miller handed back to Wittmer and leader Clay changed over to Auberlen.
With 45m left, the lead was down to 22s, with Auberlen heading the field. From there, Auberlen leveraged his cushion, hit his marks and was never challenged, crossing the line 6.5s over Wittmer who was in turn 2.9s ahead of Liddell.
“Once Bill got into the car for the last stint, it was probably the most nerve-wracking half hour of my life so far,” said Hull. “I was just pacing back and forth, hoping everything would be OK and leaving it to Bill. He brought it home perfect. I’m so happy.”
“These guys did exactly what we said – keep it clean and give me at least a five minute lead,” said a joking Auberlen after the race. “They did such a great job, and it was just a cruise home at the end.”
“It’s great to be back here,” said Clay. “We’ve been here before but for me this is the most meaningful. To drive with these guys, it was just fantastic. What a day and what a race.”
Pirelli GT4 competitors now look ahead to the 2021 campaign, set to open March 7-9 at Sonoma Raceway in California. Catch up on all series news at gt4-america.com.