Podium Performance for Filippi and Wilkins at Daytona

Following a busy week leading up to the race event including the “Roar Before the Rolex 24” test days, and the Hyundai Drivers’ Camp, the official start of the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge kicked off with the BMW M Endurance Challenge on Friday.
The four-hour season opener at Daytona International Raceway is traditionally one of the most demanding on teams and equipment of the 10-race IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge schedule. On par with tradition, the race featured plenty of action on the racetrack and in the pits, totaling 106 laps with 27 under caution.
Mason Filippi and Mark Wilkins kicked off their first season as co-drivers on the podium, finishing third after a hard-fought battle against the #73 Honda and the #61 Audi. With Bryan Herta calling strategy and Chris Finch engineering, the #98 Elantra N TCR was one of the first teams to make the driver change. Wilkins took over for Filippi with over 2.5 hours remaining. It was the final 30 minutes that counted most. Wilkins took the race lead with just under 30 minutes remaining, he paced the field on the final restart and held the lead for 15 laps. He was eventually overtaken by the winning Audi, and the second place Honda, but held on for third position for the second year in a row. It was Filippi’s first podium finish at the famed speedway.
Harry Gottsacker and the #33 Elantra N TCR team moved to the front from their fifth place starting position in in the first hour. All was well with consistently quick laps by Gottsacker and perfect pit stops from the #33 team. Co-driver Robert Wickens took over before the halfway point in what was on pace to be another perfect pitstop before his pit crew identified a loose exhaust pipe. The broken exhaust hanger and its repair cost the team two laps. Wickens regained one lap and took the checkers in sixth position. It was Wickens’ first time driving to the checkered flag since returning to competition using hand controls.
Kicking off the season as the defending series champions for the second year in a row, Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis finished 8th. Hagler had a solid stint, but Lewis was quickly sidelined with mechanical issues after taking over the cockpit. The #1 crew met the car in the garage and worked diligently to return the car to competition. After some quick work by the BHA team, Lewis returned to the race and was able to bring the car home in eighth position.
#1 Hyundai Elantra N TCR
2021 and 2022 Drivers/Team CHAMPIONS
Started: 11th Finished: 8th Championship Standings: 8th
Taylor Hagler: “Our title defense hasn’t started off like we expected at Daytona and our finish doesn’t show how great our #1 Hyundai Elantra N was. It has been great to be back with the team and get back into the swing of things. We finished on the podium at Sebring last year and I’m looking forward to getting after it in March.”
Michael Lewis: “Our team worked so well this week and we just had some bad luck in the race. I was so impressed with how the team got our car back on track to finish P8. They are the heroes. On to Sebring!”
#33 Elantra N TCR
Started: 5th Finished: 6th Championship Standings: 6th
Harry Gottsacker IV: “We put up a good fight today and had great pace, but a small issue cost us a few laps. The team worked hard, and we were able to get a few laps back, but ended up stuck one lap down in P6. We have a great base to work with during the rest of the season and I’m looking forward to getting back out there and fighting at the pointy end of the grid.”
Robert Wickens: “It wasn’t the Daytona we had hoped for. We had a great car; Harry had a great first stint and gave me the car in the lead. It was looking like a great pit stop and then we couldn’t leave the pit box because our exhaust pipe had come loose. We ended up two laps down, and managed to get one back and salvage a sixth-place finish. It was just one of those days. Hopefully, this is the worst of it for us this year. Great job by everyone at Bryan Herta Autosport throughout the ten days at Daytona.”
#98 Elantra N TCR
Started: 6th Finished: 3rd Championship Standings: 3rd
Mason Filippi: “I had a great stint. Our #98 Elantra N TCR car was fast, I have to hand it to our engineer Chris Finch. I was just trying to stay out of trouble with a car that good; I knew we could finish up front if we kept it clean. As this four-hour always is…lots of attrition and Mark just killed it out there, it wasn’t easy. I also want to give a shout out to the Florida N Club who joined us at Daytona, their enthusiasm is worth some horsepower for sure.”
Mark Wilkins: “Mason drove a great stint. I’ve really enjoyed the last few weeks first with the Roar, then all the team building with the Hyundai Driver’s Camp and now finishing with a podium. It was honestly tough. We just didn’t have the pace and then we were struggling with a little issue at the end. I was just hoping our Elantra N TCR would make it, and it did. We had no hope of a win today, but a podium is a great result, great for points and a good way to start our season together. I feel like a podium at Daytona is like a win for us, and we’ll just build from here.”
Mason Filippi (L) and Mark Wilkins, drivers of the #98 Elantra N TCR finish 3rd at the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2023.
Mason Filippi (L) and Mark Wilkins, drivers of the #98 Elantra N TCR finish 3rd at the BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway on January 27, 2023.
Above: The #33 Elantra N TCR driven by Robert Wickens leads the #1 Elantra N TCR driven by Michael Lewis over the finish line at Daytona International Speedway, on Friday, January 27, 2023.
Below: The #98 Bryan Herta Autosport crew services the #98 Elantra N TCR driven by Mason Filippi at the BMW M Endurance Challenge on Friday, January 27, 2023.

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