2019 IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge The Canadian Tire Motorsports 120
#21 Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi
#98 Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis
Veloster N TCR’s Quick, but Race Finish Spoiled by Bizarre Circumstances
The current trend of the Hyundai Veloster N TCR cars running at the top of the speed charts continued this weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, just outside of Toronto.
Michael Lewis and local favorite Mark Wilkins were quickest in opening practice and qualified the #98 car on the front row for the second consecutive weekend.
Mason Filippi qualified the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR third, his best start of the year. Known to be one of the most technical circuits in North America, “CTMP” has many dramatic elevation changes and blind apexes. Setting the race car up for this circuit can be daunting, but once again, the BHA engineers John Ward and Kyle Compton were up to the task, the Veloster’s were very competitive all weekend.
Michael Lewis took the green flag in the #98 and Mason Filippi started in the #21. Both drivers had a clean first “stint” and ran comfortably in the top three throughout the first half of the race. Both cars took advantage of a perfectly timed caution period to execute their first pitstop.
The BHA crew diligently serviced both cars with four tires, fuel and driver changes, but the #21 car lost time when a wheel nut jammed between the rim and the wheel hub. The jamming of the wheel nut was a strange circumstance, not something the experience crew has ever seen before.
In the second half of the two-hour race, the team’s quick pace was inconsequential when both the #98 and the #21 were struck with debilitating circumstances. A lapped TCR car held up Wilkins for several laps and then eventually hit the #98 car. As a result, the radiator was punctured and forced into retirement, “It was incredibly frustrating out there. We had another great race going and as it turned out the way the yellows fell, we would have been in contention for another victory,” said Wilkins.
Harry Gottsacker rebounded from his lengthy pitstop in the #21 with great race pace. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t improve. Gottsacker was racing through lapped traffic when he was spun off the track by at competitor at turn five.
Gottsacker was able to finish the race, earning his fifth top ten finish, but he lost several laps due to the incident. “It was a strange series of incidents,” said Gottsacker. “The wheel-nut situation forced us into an unfortunate position on the racetrack in terms of track position. Traffic is always a factor at CTMP, but we had the pace to recover…that Audi spun us right off the racetrack.” It was a frustrating day for the BHA team, but despite the early retirement, #98 car sits just six points out of the championship lead, while the #21 car is sixth, with half of the season remaining.
Tune in to watch the race on NBC Sports on Tuesday, July 16th at 3pm ET. The team now turns their focus to Connecticut for round six of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, at Lime Rock Park 120 on Saturday, July 20th.
#98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Michael Lewis (started): “Our race was going well, and our team executed a really great strategy. Mark was driving so well, and he was fast after we did our driver change. It looked like we would cycle to first place or at least have a good fight for first at the end of everyone’s stops. Unfortunately, we had a stone puncture our radiator and that was the end of a flawless race. Thank you so much to the team for enduring the trials of what a race weekend gives and especially after a back-to-back set of race weekends. I am so thankful to be on a team with passionate and dedicated racers. Our Hyundai Veloster N TCR will be back on the track in a week-and-a-half at Lime Rock, and I am excited to go racing there to work to earn more points.”
Mark Wilkins (finished): “The weekend showed a great deal of promise! Our cars were quick, and the Michelin’s were great, the Veloster N TCR performed well on late stint tires. A tough result to swallow for both cars. From a points perspective we are right in the mix and we have plenty of racing ahead! A massive thank you is in order to the crew. These BHA guys are the best and we’ll be ready to fight for a win at Lime Rock in a few weeks!”
#21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR
Mason Filippi (started): “Tough day at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park but the Bryan Herta Autosport Team is strong and is able to work through anything racing throws at us in the Hyundai Veloster N TCR. I can’t wait for Lime Rock Park in a couple weeks. Heads down and time for a 1,2 finish!”
Harry Gottsacker (finished): “It was a tough race today, and probably the most physical race I’ve had up to this point. The pace was good, and we were in position for our first podium finish but contact at turn five ended our hopes. The goal from that point was to bring the car home and collect some points.”