PORTLAND, Ore. (July 11, 2018) – For Hyundai racers Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis, the Northwest trip to Portland International Raceway has been on their “To Do” list for quite a long time, as the Pirelli World Challenge road racing tour returns to PIR for the first time in 13 years.
And the two Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian drivers have been preparing for this weekend’s 58th annual Rose Cup Races (July 13-15) since the last TCR sedan racing action in May at Lime Rock Park. They are ready to go in the popular Hyundai i30 N hatchbacks which have captured four of the first six TCR events in 2018.
“I know the boys are anxious to get to Portland,” said team owner Bryan Herta, who was a regular at PIR in the IndyCar Series in 1990s and 2000s. “I always loved racing at PIR. It has a variety of interesting corners as well as the two straightaways. I believe Mark and Michael have looked over the video and simulation of the Portland circuit. We should be set to battle at the front again. We are just halfway in the championship battle, so Portland will be important for a good start in the second half of the season.”
Hyundai currently leads the PWC TCR Manufacturers’ Championship point standings entering this weekend’s doubleheader races at PIR.
Wilkins has two victories (COTA and VIR) in the No. 99 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR as well as three second places in the opening six TCR rounds as he sits second in the TCR point standings. But Mark, a former GT and GTS class race winner, has set his sights on the 1.97-mile PIR course.
“After a lengthy hiatus from PWC competition, I’m absolutely ready to get to Portland and turn some laps in the i30N,” said Wilkins. “We had a great event at Hyundai Headquarters (in Fountain Valley, Calif.,) this week and aside from fierce battles between employees on the simulators Michael and I had a chance to chat about the first half of our season and share excitement from the track. The vibe is clearly performance and, with the launch of Veloster N this fall, everyone is pumped! Everyone at BHA is ready to hit the ground running come first practice Friday! “
TCR Practice rounds begin at 9:20 a.m. PDT Friday (July 13) with the Round 7 40-minute sprint race set for Saturday (July 14) at 2:25 p.m. PDT. Sunday’s Round 8 TCR feature is scheduled for 10:40 a.m. PDT.
College student Lewis had never driven a front-wheel-drive race car until this year, but the Californian has taken the No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR to two wins (COTA and Lime Rock Park) as well as two runner-up finishes. Michael, who started his sports car career in 2009 at PIR, ranks third in the current TCR points.
“Portland is a really cool track,” said Lewis. “The lap time is pretty quick and it is actually the track where I first drove a sports car in 2009. Though I have raced here once before, I must approach this track as though I have never been here because it has been a long time since my last outing there. In any case, I am anxious to get on this track and have fun with our Hyundai and Bryan Herta Autosport team! They are working really hard to ensure that Mark and I have the necessary equipment to compete for wins. I am so appreciative of their hard work and enthusiasm.”
All TCR races at Portland International Raceway will have live streaming on www.world-challenge.com.