The Michelin series puts on a very entertaining show!
The 2022 IMSA Lime Rock Pilot Challenge race made me a fan of the series. I’ve seen several Michelin Pilot Challenge races, all at the long Watkins Glen track. The cars seem somehow out of their element there. These are wiry street fighters totally in their element at a bullring like Lime Rock.
Lap times are short around the quick 1.5 mile circuit. It may be short but it throws some really interesting corners at drivers. Their cars are a mix of GT4 (top photo) and TCR “production” cars (right). I say production because they are genuine race cars. Take a look inside and you’ll see its direct relation to the faster GT3 cars. You can recognize the TCR cars by their common body kits which have squared-off front and rear fender flares.
Many manufacturers now build these race cars for privateer and professional teams alike. IMSA makes sure the playing field is level using a Balance of Performance formula to equalize a Camaro with a Mercedes or a BMW. That formula works just fine.
The race is 2 hours long
A short, quick track ensures that the equalized cars come around quite often while in traffic. Throw in a long-enough straight and corners designed for fender-banging and you have entertainment! Lime Rock had 2 giant video screens so that fans on the viewing slopes both inside and outside the main straight could watch the entire lap.
The beautifully presented race cars from a number of different manufacturers are interesting to even the most casual fan. Aston Martin, Porsche, Mercedes, BMW, Toyota, Ford and Chevrolet competed in the headline GS class. Hyundai, Alfa Romeo, Audi and Honda added to the mix with their TCR class cars. In all, 35 cars took the green flag.
Of special note is the Bryan Herta Autosport team. The former Indycar driver and father of Colton Herta (star Indycar driver) entered no less than 6 TCR Hyundai Elantra Ns.
This included one car entered for Canadians Mark Wilkins and Robert Wickens. The injured Wickens continues his racing comeback which includes a class win earlier this year. On this occasion, the pair finished 6th.
Robin Liddell and Frank Depew teamed up in their Camaro GT4.R (top photo) to get the GS win by 3 seconds over Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson in their neon yellow Volt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
Audis took the first two places in TCR. The Unitronic JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS (near top) driven by Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor beat the similar car of Preston Brown and Denis Dupont in their Belgard & Techniseal Racing car (left).
A very large crowd turned up for a fun and exciting IMSA Lime Rock Pilot Challenge race and I’m sure most will be back next year. Lime Rock Park’s family-oriented atmosphere promises a fun day at the races and an IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race guarantees it. See you later this or next year?
To catch up with the 2022 IMSA race schedule, click here.