Mark Wilkins Scores Sunday’s TCR 40-minute sprint race; Michael Lewis 2nd
AUSTIN, Texas (March 25, 2018) – Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian put in one of the most dominant performances in a debut in Pirelli World Challenge history this weekend at Circuit of the America (COTA) in the Pirelli World Challenge Grand Prix of Texas with back-to-back TCR 1-2 placings with Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis in the BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR cars.
On Sunday at the 3.427-mile, 20-mile racing facility, Wilkins, the 34-year-old veteran from Mulmur, Ont., Canada, matched Lewis’s Saturday TCR 40-minute sprint win with a great start and a brilliant drive to victory in the inaugural PWC TCR Class weekend for the TCR hatchback sedans.
Wilkins, whose No. 99 BHA Hyundai i30 H TCR machine hadn’t turn a wheel until Thursday’s testing session, paced the 14-car TCR field for most of the COTA weekend, leading practice, qualifying and Sunday’s 14-lap event. Only Lewis’ Saturday race win interrupted a perfect weekend performance by Wilkins.
In Sunday’s Round 2 event, Wilkins held the inside line into turn one and advanced his position through the esses over Lewis, who started on the outside of row on in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR. The two Hyundai racers diced among themselves throughout the 40-minute event as they pulled away from the competition.
The sensational debut of the Hyundai i30 N TCR cars at COTA was a big story throughout the Pirelli World Challenge paddock which was filled 104 entries in the doubleheader race weekend. In addition to the paddock conversation, the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian squad was the talk of the media center as many journalists met with Herta, Wilkins and Lewis as well.
Third for the second day in a row in TCR Rounds 1 and 2 was veteran driver Ryan Eversley in the all-new No. 43 RealTime Racing Honda Civic Type-R TCR car.
“We used Michael’s Hyundai i30 N TCR in preparation for the COTA weekend as my race car arrived this week and we ran it for the first time last Thursday,” said Wilkins. “The car ran flawlessly, and it was a great first weekend for Hyundai and Bryan Herta Autosport. It’s going to be a very exciting season with many top drivers, teams and TCR cars. It’s always great to win and this weekend seemed like a perfect way to start the year for us. Now, we move to VIR next month (April 27-29) and we hope to continue this trend.”
Lewis drove superbly all weekend as well including setting fastest lap of Sunday’s TCR race. Before this weekend’s two events, Michael had not raced a front-wheel-drive machine.
“For today’s race, Mark got off to an excellent start and it is a team effort for me,” said Lewis. “It really didn’t matter if I won or Mark won. He had a strong Hyundai i30 N TCR this afternoon. Yesterday, I got in a good move to take the lead on the first lap and today, it was Mark’s turn. As long as we are 1-2, that is the goal. Once Mark grabbed the lead, I want to slot in right behind him and protect the 1-2 for Hyundai. It was a spectacular debut for the Bryan Herta Autosport team and the Hyundai i30 N TCR at COTA.”
The top five TCR finishers drove four different auto makes in Sunday’s 40-minute sprint event.
The COTA Pirelli World Challenge TCR events will be feature on CBS Sports Network on Thursday, April 12, at 8 p.m. EDT/5 p.m. PDT.
The Pirelli World Challenge TCR series moves to VIRginia International Raceway on April 27-29 with another full weekend of all eight PWC divisions.
SOURCE: Bryan Herta Autosport