BHA Veloster’s 4th, 5th and 6th at Daytona
It’s been exactly one year since Bryan Herta Autosport made their IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge debut at Daytona. What a difference a year makes. One year, four race wins, a championship and a third entry later, BHA returned to Daytona and challenged for the race win with all three entries. The BHA Veloster’s led practice sessions and ran up front throughout the event. They completed 380 miles in four hours, and were the only team in the race to have all cars finish, a testament to their precision preparation.
#98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Started: 6th Finished: 4thThe #98 Veloster started from sixth position with Mason Filippi behind the wheel. Co-driving with Michael Lewis, Filippi moved from the #21 to the #98 for 2020. He had a phenomenal first stint and raced from 10th to 2nd on a re-start and led three laps in the season opener. He turned the car over to reigning champion Michael Lewis shortly after the halfway mark. The layout of the Daytona “Roval” is known to be very compatible with the Audis, and they came to life in the final two hours, running first, second and third. Running fourth, Lewis pushed the Audis hard, forcing their fuel consumption and ready to pounce into podium position should they make a mistake. With 12 minutes to go, the yellow flag fell for a dramatic incident involving a Mercedes in the GS class. The driver was not injured, but the clean-up was lengthy and the race finished under caution. Although his strategy was cut short by the race ending yellow flag, Lewis finished fourth, a strong points paying position.
#33 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Started: 7th Finished: 5thIt was an event full of firsts for the #33 Hyundai Veloster N driven by Gabby Chaves and Ryan Norman, including their first time competing in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge. For Norman, it was his first time doing pit stops, first time racing a closed cockpit car and the longest time and distance he had ever raced…and he loved it! His first comment out of the car was “that was the most fun I’ve ever had in a race.” Norman started seventh and dropped to the 12th position after being hit in the opening laps. He wasn’t there long, by his first pit stop, Norman had raced back to the front and was running third. It was a notable debut for the Ohio native, he turned the car over to teammate Gabby Chaves in first position. Completing their first driver-change , Chaves took over with 1 hour 50 minutes remaining. Chaves set the pace in several practice sessions leading up to the race and initially it looked like he was on target to continue that trend. Unfortunately the toll of endurance racing spoiled their flawless debut, the #33 suffered damage when it was hit in the opening laps and although it didn’t present itself early, nearly three hours at race pace antagonized the damage and it compromised the balance and pace of the shiny red #33 Veloster. Chaves maximized the points opportunity and finished fifth in their debut.
#21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Started: 2nd Finished: 6thHarry Gottsacker kicked off 2020 with a strong start, he scored his best ever IMSA qualifying result, securing a front row start for the #21 Veloster. Starting from 2nd, Harry worked through early balance challenges with the front end to dial in the car for the remainder of his stint. He turned the car over to Mark Wilkins in third position with just under two hours remaining. The gremlins returned early in Wilkins’ stint. He radio’d his crew describing characteristics which kept him from pushing his Veloster to its full grunt, yet held on for sixth position, a full lap ahead of their nearest competitors.
Michael Lewis #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR“I was so pumped watching Mason out there, he did a great job and brought me a clean car for my stint. Fourth isn’t necessarily the finish we were hoping for, but I think we did a good job getting the most out of it today. I was really pushing those Audis at the end hoping to take advantage of their fuel situation. The team did a great job and we’ll take the points and start working on Sebring!”
Gabby Chaves #33 Hyundai Veloster N TCR“We had a fantastic car all weekend, we were very fast. Unfortunately racing different classes, different races and different speeds out there, we had some damage…and it showed itself more and more as the race went on. Despite that, we still finished in the top five and that’s a testament to to the Veloster N TCR. It’s a very competitive car and I am really excited for the season ahead.”
|Mark Wilkins #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR“All in all it was great to see the cars finish 4th, 5th and 6th. Obviously I think we are the team to beat and it would have been nice to be 1st, 2nd and 3rd, but this is our toughest track and we’re leaving with three cars intact. We did find a little mechanical issue after the race which was definitely hurting our performance. I think Harry did a great job and we executed well, I am looking forward to the season.”|
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