- All-AERO IMSA WeatherTech podium as Corvette Racing moves to the championship lead
ALTON, Virginia (August 20, 2018) - It is great to look good, but results are critical. Racing on different continents, two AERO Sustainable Paint Technology-equipped teams managed to do both this weekend.
BMW Team RLL scored a breakthrough IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship win this weekend with the BMW M8, while in England, the trio of Garett Grist, Tony Wells and Matt Bell claimed their first win of the 2018 season in European Le Mans competition.
The BMW Team RLL victory came hard on the heels of a heart-breaking near-win in the previous round at Road America. The No. 25 BMW M8 GTE of American racer Connor De Phillippi and British-born pilot Alexander Sims took a 1.323-second margin of victory after the two hour and forty-minute race at Virginia International Raceway.
The sister No. 24 BMW M8 GTE, with John Edwards and Jesse Krohn co-driving, finished a very strong third, only 4.439-seconds behind their teammates, to cap another dramatic IMSA weekend.
A day of ups and downs for the No. 25 BMW M8 GTE saw the entry show both speed and strength.
“What an eventful race,” said Sims. “Connor (De Phillippi) did a great job at the start to get us up to P3. I got in and raced past the Corvette, I tried to get by Dirk, but I made a mistake, committed too much and lost control, unfortunately hitting a Lexus. We received a drive-through penalty which I thought was the right decision, it was my fault. At that point I thought the race was over but amazingly there was a safety car that brought us back into contention. From that point on, our pace was really good. We were strong and able to race with the guys around us and the Michelin tires held on fantastically well— to the point we could double stint them at a track that is notoriously hard on tires such as VIR. Great strategy by the Rahal Team and BMW and great pace from the car, the M8 GTE’s first win is very sweet to get.”
Underscoring the strong results-orientation for squads with AERO on board was the fact that the top three overall finishers put AERO Advanced Paint Technology to work as the Corvette Racing combo of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia took a hard-fought second place to move into the championship points lead.
In what proved to be a rollercoaster race for United Autosports’ four European Le Mans Series cars at Silverstone, the No. 3 LMP3 crew of the teams three other cars meanwhile, suffered poor luck, despite all of them being in contention for podium spots in their respective classes throughout the race. For much of the second half of the race, United Autosports' pair of Ligier JS P3s ran in formation, 1-2 at the head of the class. But the season of bad luck continued for the John Falb/Sean Rayhall combination after the car refused to fire in the final pit stop.
Bell, Grist and Wells controlled the race early in Bell’s stint after the halfway mark. The crew started fourth, and moved up to second after a Grist’s strong first stint. Then, Bell climbed in during hour three and made a daring pass on the leading car into the complex to take the lead. From there, Bell built a comfortable lead for Wells to defend until the end.
“The first thing to say is that Garett and Tony did a brilliant job today, faultless stints from both of them,” said Bell. “We’ve worked so hard with the whole team to produce a result like this but ultimately they both had to deliver their best and they did exactly that. After a season where things so far just haven’t gone our way in the ELMS this does feel a bit special, and I hope a turning point. Huge credit has got to go for the way that ‘Doc’ Bunkhall delivered the strategy and for the preparation of the car by the whole team - this is a great return on the efforts they have all made. As for the race, Garett gave me the car in really great condition and I felt I could push immediately, when the opportunity to attack came it gave me all I needed and I could pull away, and hold the team car when that attack came.”
In IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge competition it was another big result for AERO squad Compass Racing as Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer grew their championship points advantage with a run to second place in the No. 74 Audi RS3 LMS TCR, sharing the VIR podium with teammates Britt Casey Jr. and Tom Long in the No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
There are two more rounds of the 2018 IMSA championship as the team looks forward to heading west for the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca event on September 8th.