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Koch Muscles Murillo Mercedes to Michelin Pilot Challenge Win at Road America

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Late Pass secures GS’s third win of the season for #56; No. 5 Alfa Romeo wins TCR

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John Oreovich

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Preliminary race results

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LAKE ELKHART, Wisconsin. – The Road America 240 got off to a rough start, but the finish was hectic as Eric Foss and Kenton Koch fought their way to overall and Grand Sport (GS) class victory in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

Driving Murillo Racing’s #56 Mercedes-AMG GT GT4, Koch blasted past Alec Udell in Kelly Moss’s #66 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport in Turn 8 of Road America’s Turn 14 with five minutes left in the four-hour event. . Koch pulled away to win by 0.896 seconds over Gregory Lifuge in the No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4. Udell finished in third place.

It was the third victory for the number 56 Mercedes this season, with Koch and Foss sharing the car in two wins. Foss now has 10 wins in the Michelin Pilot Challenge, while Koch, who replaced the injured Jeff Mosing, has four. Mosing is expected to return for the last two races of the season.

“I was like, ‘Dude, this is the last race, at least for me, so we have to finish the best we can,'” said Koch, who started outside the front row with 16-year-old pole-holder Luca Mars. driving the No. 60 KohR Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4. “I feel like there were a few (potential winners) from everyone all along and I just happened to be in the right place at the end to make it happen.

“I didn’t think we could win until the last lap,” he added. “We struggled a bit with tire degradation, but I was wading through traffic to get some space on the track. As soon as I got No. 43 behind me, they were all fighting among themselves.”

Sean Quinlan qualified 16th at No. 43, but well-timed pit stops during the four warnings at full speed that marked the first half of the race forced BMW into the fray.

Lifuge felt that without the final warning of the race, which came with 35 minutes left, the result would have been different. This yellow, which was extended when the No. 21 Riley Motorsports Mercedes lost a wheel and spun while cruising, eliminated Udell’s fuel mileage concerns.

“I feel like we had a strategy to probably win the race before the full track warning was issued because we knew[Porsche number 66]on much older tires,” Lifuge said. “We knew that we could catch up with him, but we also knew that the guys on the new tires, who have high speed, would be behind us, and they won.”

GS class championship leaders Alan Brynjolfsson and Trend Hindman finished fourth in the No. 7 Volt Aston Martin Vantage GT4 races and maintained an unofficial margin of 220 points over Foss and No. 56 Mercedes.

Late burst of energy leads Alfa Romeo No. 5 to TCR victory

Jeff Olson

Toward the end of the four-hour race, Tim Lewis didn’t think he had the strength to hold his position, let alone win the Touring Car (TCR) class. It turns out he did.

Taking advantage of fresher tires removed during a pit stop due to a late full track warning, Lewis overtook four cars over the last four laps, including the last lap leader, to go on to take TCR’s win at KMW No. 5. Motorsport with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR he drove with Roy Block.

Given how exhausted Lewis was, the sudden surge of energy took him – and his opponents – by surprise. Cautiously idling before the restart with 10 minutes left, Lewis finished in fifth place but was unsure if he could fight to hold on.

“I was very tired in the car,” Lewis said. “I was not sure that I would have the strength to fight another 12 minutes. As soon as we hit the road, the tires were connected and the car was connected. I could tell we had pace compared to the other guys.”

Lewis overtook two cars on the penultimate lap for second place, then took aim at race leader Stephen Simpson in race number 54 Michael Johnson with a Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Lewis made a clean pass before turn five and drove away with a 1.594 second win.

“I went for it and it stuck,” Lewis said after he and Block took their third win of the season. This is Lewis’s fifth career Michelin Pilot Challenge win and Block’s seventh.

The win also helped Lewis and Block pass defending class champions and 2022 points leaders Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler, who finished Saturday third in Bryan Herta Autosport’s No. 1 race with a Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR. Tim Lewis and Block closed within 30 points of Michael Lewis and Hagler with two races remaining.

“We just need to focus on the next race and our next test,” Block said. “Just work on your craft and prepare yourself for success.”

The Michelin Pilot Challenge season will resume on August 27 with the Virginia for Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway.


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