Lakeville, CT — Hyundai scored their first IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge double podium on Saturday, July 20, dominating the Lime Rock Park 120. It was a flag-to-flag victory for the #98 Veloster N TCR car driven by Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins and a third-place finish for the #21 Veloster N TCR with Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi. At just 1.4 miles, Lime Rock Park is the shortest road course on the circuit, creating traffic challenges and, due to extreme heat and humidity, a very slick racing surface.
Michael Lewis started from the pole for the second time this season in the #98 Veloster N TCR. He had a terrific first stint and handed over the car in first position to his teammate Mark Wilkins at the 1-hour mark. Wilkins kept control of the race pace, dominating the TCR class, lapping the entire field up to fifth place as well as many of the GS cars. His gap over the field was so large that prior to his final stop the television commentators said: “Wilkins could have a cup of tea during his stop and still come out in the lead, Hyundai really has this field covered.”
With just 30 minutes to go, the yellow flag dropped, creating a late-race caution period, which wiped out Wilkins’ massive lead. The #98 crew had a perfect pitstop, and Wilkins took the restart from second because Todd Lamb stayed out on used tires in the Honda Civic, but Wilkins quickly passed him and re-took the lead.
Last year’s race winner Stephen Simpson found pace in the #54 Audi late in the race and battled Wilkins for a handful of laps. At one point, Simpson passed the #98 Hyundai Veloster, but there was no way Wilkins would allow it to stick, so he re-passed the Audi and opened another lengthy gap before taking the victory, the second of the season for Wilkins and Lewis.
Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi were seeking redemption this weekend and found it, earning their first podium of the season in the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR. Gottsacker qualified 7th but charged into the top five in the opening laps and up to second by the 25th lap. Chasing the leader, his BHA sister car, Gottsacker challenged for the lead for the third time this season. He turned over the car to co-driver Mason Filippi on lap 57. Filippi raced hard in the top three throughout the last half of the race. By this point, the track temperatures were creating extremely challenging conditions, but the IMSA rookie rose to the occasion and raced the #21 Hyundai Veloster N to the checkered flag in third position.
Catch all of the action from Lime Rock Park on NBC Sports Network, Friday, July 26th, at 6 p.m. EDT/3 p.m. PDT. Round seven of the 2019 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge takes place at Road America in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin on Saturday, August 3, 2019.
#98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Michael Lewis (started): “What an awesome race! I have to congratulate my teammate Mark (Wilkins) on an incredible race. It’s awesome to get our second IMSA victory; it was a lot of hard work this weekend and I give my thanks to Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai for providing a really fast Veloster N. My stint was pretty straightforward: I was saving tires, so it wasn’t too hot or tough out there in my stint. However, for Mark, he was working hard, especially after that restart he had an intense battle going with the Audi and the traffic was intense. It was stressful after such a great lead to see the win come down to the wire…great racing all around. I also want to congratulate the #21 car and Mason (Filippi) and Harry (Gottsacker)…it was awesome to have them on the podium with us, first as teammates but also for Hyundai. It was an incredible day.”
Mark Wilkins (finished): “I am so pleased with the double podium for everyone at BHA and Hyundai. It was a short weekend and we got to work and pretty quickly found the sweet spot in the setup right away and executed a perfect event. Michael went out and threw down an incredible time in qualifying for our second pole, which was super important on this short track. So, going into the race, we knew we had pace and a great car…we just weren’t sure how it would be with tires and the traffic with the heat. My stint was straightforward until that last restart. The Audi (Stephen Simpson) and I had an intense battle…it was the same battle in our field as the GS cars had in theirs and we had to work through their traffic to keep our gap. It was intense and really hot. We don’t really have any cooling, we have our water, but it is such a busy track, there really wasn’t a chance to drink any. When I hung up my suit after the race, there was a puddle beneath it! Intense, but incredibly satisfying. I also want to congratulate the #21 car…they were quick all weekend and executed perfectly. I am having so much fun racing this Veloster N TCR car and can’t wait for the next round! ”
Team Owner, Bryan Herta: “It was a phenomenal day for the Hyundai Veloster N TCRs and the whole team. Everyone performed at an incredible level and our first double podium was a great reward for all of the effort.”
#21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Harry Gottsacker (started): “It was a great race today! The Hyundai Veloster N TCR was really good, and it gave me so much confidence as I worked my way up the field. Mason fought hard and drove the wheels off of the car at the end of the race and we were able to score our best finish. The BHA crew put in great stops and had a great strategy to give us a great shot today. I’m really happy to be able to give them a double podium! I can’t wait for Road America in two weeks, it is my favorite track and it’s great knowing I am going there with such a competitive package in the Hyundai Veloster N TCR car.”
Mason Filippi (finished): “It was an amazing weekend here at Lime Rock Park! The Hyundai Veloster N TCR car was awesome and killed it on the high-speed momentum track. Harry had a great first stint and I had a blast finishing the race. Only a couple of weeks until Road America and I can’t wait to get back in the Veloster N TCR.”
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About Bryan Herta Autosport: Founded in 2009, Bryan Herta Autosport has grown from a single car Indy-Lights team into a championship winning auto racing franchise. Led by IndyCar and Sports Car star Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport has won races in every discipline they’ve entered, including Indy Lights, Indy Car, Global Rally Cross, Pirelli World Challenge and IMSA. BHA rose to prominence after winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in what was the final race of the Centennial Era, a celebration of 100 years of racing at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with driver Dan Wheldon. Five years late, BHA partnered with Andretti Autosport, and defied the odds again, winning their second Indianapolis 500 with rookie driver Alexander Rossi. BHA entered the Global Rally Cross Championship in 2015 under the name Bryan Herta Rallysport, scoring multiple podiums and wins. In 2018, BHA entered the Pirelli World Challenge in partnership with Hyundai and dominated the TCR class, winning seven races with drivers #98 Michael Lewis and #99 Mark Wilkins in the Hyundai i30N TCR, securing the team and manufacturers championships in the process. For 2019, BHA continues its’ successful partnership with Andretti Autosport to field the #98 U.S. Concrete Honda w/ Curb Agajanian in the IndyCar series for driver Marco Andretti. Also, in 2019, BHA takes their championship winning Hyundai TCR team to the IMSA Pilot Challenge where they contest the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR for Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins and the #21 for Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi. Just three races into their IMSA debut, BHA won the Mid-Ohio 120 in the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR with Wilkins and Lewis. Bryan Herta Autosport is the U.S. sales agent and parts support representative of Hyundai TCR race cars for customer teams. For more information, visit www.BryanHertaAutosport.com.
About Hyundai Motor America: Hyundai Motor America is focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience grounded in design leadership, engineering excellence and exceptional value in every vehicle we sell. Hyundai’s technology-rich product lineup of cars, SUVs and alternative-powered electric and fuel cell vehicles is backed by Hyundai Assurance—our promise to deliver peace of mind to our customers. Hyundai vehicles are sold and serviced through more than 830 dealerships nationwide with the majority sold in the U.S. built at U.S. manufacturing facilities, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Hyundai Motor America is headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, and is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea.