PORTLAND, Ore. (July 14, 2018) – Veteran Mark Wilkins of Canada used traffic as an ally Saturday in the tight TCR action at Portland International Raceway to score his third Pirelli World Challenge TCR feature win of the season in the 58th Rose Cup Races.
Starting second in the 40-minute feature, Wilkins chased pole sitter Ryan Eversley for some 25 laps at the 1.97-mile, 12-turn road course north of Portland before catching slower TCA traffic and making the pass for the lead in the No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR car.
Fighting 90-degree heat and tough track surface conditions, Mark was able to extend his margin and defeat his BHA Hyundai teammate Michael Lewis by 0.963 seconds in the 31-lap Round 7 of the 12-race TCR campaign. Lewis, starting third in the No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR car, was also able to catch Eversley in traffic on the last lap and slide into the runner-up position.
The win Saturday for Wilkins was the fifth for the BHA squad as well as for Hyundai, which extended its TCR Manufacturers’ Cup point lead.
Eversley rounded out the winner’s circle podium with a third-place finish.
Sunday’s Round 8 TCR sprint event is set for 10:40 a.m. PDT at Portland International Raceway.
“The TCR racing is really fantastic with the variety of cars and the top driving talent battling it out,” said Wilkins, who also won at Circuit of the Americas (COTA) and Lime Rock. “I chased Ryan for most of the race and then took advantage when traffic posed a problem for him in the lead. For me, there was no conserving of the tires or the car today. I was driving very hard to stay with Ryan and hoped for an opening. Luckily, I was able to get one and jumped at it. There were a couple of places where the Hyundai was a touch stronger than Ryan’s car. But, overall, we were all pretty close. There is a superb level of competitiveness right now and we hope the fans enjoy it too.”
For Lewis, this is his first season of racing a front-wheel-drive car, but the Californian is showing he is a quick learner with another solid performance.
“It didn’t take me too long to learn the front-wheel-drive application, maybe a day or two of testing,” said Lewis. “Congratulations to my teammate Mark for another great win. This is a strong team effort and we all want to do well. So, to have a 1-2 finish again is so special for Bryan Herta Autosport and Hyundai. Now, we have to come right back on Sunday and try to repeat the 1-2. But I want to be the No. 1 the next time. I’m excited for the challenge.”
Lewis has the prime location for Sunday’s 40-minute race as he will start from the pole position in his No. 98 machine after recording the fastest race lap in Saturday’s main event. Wilkins will start third, right behind Lewis in the Sunday starting grid.
The TCR Round 8 action can be viewed live Sunday at www.world-challenge.com and the Pirelli World Challenge You Tube channel.