Liddell, DePew; Miller, Taylor take MPC wins at Lime Rock

Jake Galstad/Lumen

Liddell, DePew; Miller, Taylor take MPC wins at Lime Rock

IMSA

Liddell, DePew; Miller, Taylor take MPC wins at Lime Rock

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Returning to a favorite racetrack proved to be just the tonic for Rebel Rock Racing.

Robin Liddell took the wheel of Rebel Rock’s No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R from Frank DePew and stamped his authority on the second half of the Lime Rock Park 120, claiming the Grand Sport (GS) class victory Saturday in round seven of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

Liddell moved from 10th to fourth place before making a green-flag pit stop with 57 minutes remaining in the two-hour contest. Just three minutes later, a full-course caution waved when Eric Foss (No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4) tapped Matt Plumb (No. 46 Team TGM Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport) into a traffic-induced crash.

After the leaders completed pit stops under yellow, Liddell found himself in third place, trailing Kyle Marcelli in the No. 877 JG Wentworth Racing by PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 and Mike Skeen in the No. 55 FCP Euro by Ricca Autosport Mercedes when racing resumed with a little more than half an hour remaining. Liddell made quick work of Skeen, then set about cutting into a 5.4s deficit to leader Marcelli.

Once clear of lapped traffic, Liddell closed quickly on Marcelli and the Camaro passed the Mustang exiting Big Bend with 12 minutes to go. Marcelli held tough through the subsequent Left Hander and Right Hander and regained the lead through the Uphill Bend.

Liddell repeated his pass at Big Bend the following lap, and this time Marcelli was unable to respond. Marcelli and Billy Johnson (No. 59 Kohr Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4) waged an exciting scrap over the final 10 minutes, but both were ultimately passed by Trent Hindman in the No. 7 Volt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 he shared with Alan Brynjolfsson.

Liddell crossed the line 2.951s ahead of Hindman to earn his 14th career victory in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition. He also claimed a GS class victory at Lime Rock in 2018 when teamed with Matt Bell. The win was DePew’s fifth in Michelin Pilot Challenge.

“We had a difficult year in 2021, with a lot of incidents and just disappointment,” Liddell said. “This year, we have put solid races under our belt and are finishing the best we can – some top-10s, some top-fours and now a win, which is great. I’m super happy, the team did a great job, and the car always performs well here.

“We made a good call to get out of that traffic melee we were in, and when the yellow came out, we were in a great spot with the undercut,” he added. “But it was a blinking hard race – lots of contact, lots of battling, but we managed to bring the car home in one piece. We had better tires at the end, and that really made the difference. I just had more grip and they couldn’t hang with us.”

Behind Hindman, Marcelli and co-driver Sheena Monk took third place in the No. 877 Mustang.

The second-place finish was a big boost for Brynjolfsson and Hindman in the GS point standings. They extended their advantage over Foss to 265 points after Foss and Kenton Koch were credited with 19th place in the No. 56 Mercedes.

No. 17 Unitronic JDC-Miller MotorSports, Audi RS3 LMS SEQ, TCR: Chris Miller, Mikey Taylor. Jake Galstad/Lumen

No. 17 Audi Takes a Beating and then Delivers One in TCR

Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor spent most of Saturday’s Touring Car (TCR) class race getting knocked around, but like the famous old timepiece commercial, the No. 17 Unitronic-JDC MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS SEQ took a licking and kept on ticking – all the way to victory lane.

The No. 17 Audi won by 1.148s over the No. 15 Belgard & Techniseal Racing Audi RS3 LMS DSG shared by Preston Brown and Denis Dupont, but only after Miller and Taylor survived multiple skirmishes and several near catastrophes in the two-hour race at Lime Rock Park.

“It was a dogfight out there,” Taylor admitted after closing out the win. “They call it the bullring for a reason. Every single lap, I thought I was going to be hit from behind; all over the place. It all culminated in kind of two big incidents. I’m just happy we survived.”

Miller was running third in class 20 minutes into the race when he was knocked off course and fell to last place in the field. Undaunted, he stayed the course and turned the car over to Taylor a little more than 20 minutes later. A lightning-fast pit stop advanced Taylor to seventh in TCR and he charged forward from there. Another stop just before the second and final full-course caution of the race allowed the No. 17 to cycle into second place when racing resumed with 33 minutes to go.

“I was just making sure we stayed on the lead lap and thinking of taking care of the car,” Miller said. “I knew we had a quick race car. I knew Mikey — if I gave him a chance — he’d do something good with it.”

Taylor bumped his way past Jon Morley in the No. 61 Road Shagger Racing Audi and into the TCR lead with 25 minutes left on the clock, but the mission was far from finished as the top five TCR cars jostled for position down the stretch, often clustered within a second.

Contact between the No. 17 Audi, No. 19 van der Steur Racing Hyundai Veloster N TCR and No. 65 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 from the GS class nearly disrupted the race for all three cars but they continued.

Tyler Gonzalez regrouped in the No. 19 Hyundai to make a final charge at Taylor with 90 seconds remaining. Gonzalez attempted an over-under pass for the lead in Turn 1, and the cars made side-to-side contact several times through Turns 2 and 3 before the No. 19 Hyundai sustained left-rear damage and limped back to the pits to finish 10th in class.

“I thought we were both going to not finish the race at that point,” Taylor said. “These cars are not that robust and you can only take so many hits. I was radioing into the team, ‘Is bodywork flying off? Is my splitter even still on?’ It was crazy at the end. Just happy we finished and to be here is awesome.”

The win was the fourth for Taylor in the Michelin Pilot Challenge and third for Miller. It was their first since taking the TCR victory last October at VIRginia International Raceway.

The runner-up finish by the No. 15 Belgard and Techniseal Audi equaled the team’s best finish set earlier this year at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson finished third in the No. 54 Michael Johnson Racing with Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR, just 0.350s behind the No. 15 Audi.

By finishing fifth Saturday, Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler, co-drivers of the No. 1 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra, expanded their championship lead to 70 points over Roy Block, Tim Lewis and the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR.

Three races remain. The next is the Road America 240, a four-hour race at the track in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin.

MX-5 CUP | ROUND 8 – WATKINS GLEN

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