Bowmanville, Ontario, Canada (July 3, 2022) – Coming off their first IMSA victory of 2022 just one week ago, Robert Wickens and Mark Wilkins raced from last to first Saturday, and led the Bryan Herta Autosport (BHA) podium sweep at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park (CTMP), round six of the 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. BHA teammates Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis finished second and Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker finished third, a dominating performance by the squad of Hyundai Elantra N TCR teams.
Mark Wilkins, Engineer John Ward and the #33 team developed the race winning set-up and completed both practice sessions short one significant team member on Friday, co-driver Robert Wickens. Wickens missed both practice sessions and qualifying on Friday, and as a result, the #33 would start from the 15th and final position on the grid. Wickens missed the sessions, with good reason. On Thursday, just prior to arriving at CTMP, for the race weekend, Wickens receieved a call from his wife Karli, to let him know the delivery of their baby would be imminent. He turned around and drove 555 miles to return to their home in Indianapolis for the birth of their child. His journey was successful, Robert and Karli welcomed their first child, Wesley Joseph Wickens Friday afternoon.
By Saturday morning, Wickens was back in race-mode as he flew back to his native Canada in time to greet his enthusiastic race fans at the pre-race festivities and take the green flag, and his first laps of the weekend. Although Wickens spent his formative years on the legendary CTMP (formally MoSport), Saturday’s race laps were entirely different. It marked his first time returning to his childhood track using hand controls to drive the race car. Wickens had a formidable start, passing three cars on the opening lap. Running inside the top three through the first hour, it was a strong opening half for Wickens. With the driver change and pitstop complete, it was all up to Mark Wilkins to chase the lead for the second and final hour. Exactly as it was one week before at Watkins Glen International, Wilkins masterfully executed the final 57-minutes. He took the lead on lap 63 and despite the pursuit of his fellow BHA teammates, Michael Lewis, and Parker Chase pressuring hard for the win, and to the enthusiastic ovation of race fans surrounding the track, Wilkins prevailed, securing the win for he and Wickens. A momentous victory on their home soil in Canada and the grand finale to a remarkable week for Robert Wickens.
Michael Lewis brought the #1 Elantra N TCR home in second place, re-claiming the championship lead for he and co-driver Taylor Hagler, the 2021 series champions. The performance by Hagler and Lewis was highlighted by speed and consistency and led to their fourth second place finish of the season. They hold a 40-point lead in the standings with four races remaining.
Texans Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker finished third, it was their second podium of the season, and another pivotal performance in their championship chase. Chase qualified and started third in the #98 Elantra N TCR and had an eventful stint defending his turf inside the top three. Gottsacker took over on lap 42 and raced hard against Michael Lewis for a podium in the final hour. Gottsacker and Chase are tied with Robert Wickens for third position in the series standings.
Winning their fourth pole position in six races this season, it looked like Tyler Maxson and Mason Filippi might drive the #77 Elantra N TCR to victory late at CTMP. Maxson had an outstanding start and chose tire preservation over degradation, holding steady with race length goals. With less than an hour remaining, Filippi had a dominant lead which he held for twenty laps before a hiccup on lap 62, in a late race restart sent Filippi back to the eighth position. The #2 and the #54 Elantras of AJ Muss and Ryan Norman and Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson ran strong throughout the weekend. Off-course excursions for both cars changed the handling of their race cars enough to diminish podium chances.
Next up, the Lime Rock Park 120, Saturday, July 16th at 11:05am ET. The race will be televised live from LRP in Lakeville, Connecticut on NBC’s Peacock.
Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120
Bryan Herta Autosport Race Results
P.1 Robert Wickens and Mark Wilkins #33 Elantra N TCR
P.2 Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis #1 Elantra N TCR
P.3 Parker Chase and Harry Gottsacker #98 Elantra N TCR
P.7 AJ Muss and Ryan Norman #2 Elantra N TCR
P.8 Tyler Maxson and Mason Filippi, #77 Elantra N TCR
P.10 Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson, #54 Universal Coating Elantra N TCR