Small team has one win this season and aspirations for the TCR Championship
LAKE ELKHART, Wisconsin. – The No. 99 Victor González (VGRT) racing team in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is not small—it’s almost microscopic.
“It’s like David versus Goliath for us,” said team owner/driver Gonzalez. “We are a very small unit. I mean Indeed small. In addition to me, we have two people who work on the machine full time. That’s all.”
Despite a super-thrifty budget, VGRT is in its second year in Touring Car (TCR) competition and the only Honda Civic FK7 TCR to start in every race this year boasts a huge win at the start of the season. Gonzalez and co-driver Carl Wittmer took over the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway in March, with Wittmer moving from third to first in a daring pass on the final lap.
Gonzalez lives in his native Puerto Rico, but the Honda is kept in a St. Cloud, Florida store. The car showed remarkable endurance. Gonzalez says the main components used in January are still bolted to the car.
“Our car has covered 19,000 kilometers (11,806 miles),” he said ahead of Saturday’s practice at Road America 240. “We’re using the same engine we started with at Daytona. We didn’t change the engine. We compete in the highest sports car competitions in the United States and we know it. I want people to understand that you don’t have to rob a bank to race.
“We are going to keep fighting. We could use more help, but we have a good budget. I can say that we can win the championship. (Other teams) can change engines or gearboxes every race if they want to. We don’t have that luxury. We must take care of our equipment. We may be there at the end. We are going to do everything in our power to try and win the championship. We’re not going to give up.”
Had it not been for an untimely yellow flag, or a critical pit stop, or a collision on the track in a fight for position, VGRT could sit on several podiums – perhaps two wins – and be higher in the standings.
“I’m sixth in points,” Gonzalez said. “I’m 180 points short of second place. We have every chance to be in the top three in the championship and that’s our goal for the next three races.”
The first step of this climb up the mountain takes place on Saturday’s four-hour race, which is streamed live on Peacock starting at 2:15 pm ET. No. 99 got off to a good start in Friday practice, with Wittmer leading all TCR cars with a lap of 2 minutes 20.795 seconds (103.503 mph).
Luca Mars topped the overall and GS practice chart with a best lap of 2:16.595 (106.685 mph) in the 60th KohR Motorsports Mustang GT4.
Defending TCR champions Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler lead once again. Bryan Herta Autosport No. 1 with co-drivers Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR is 80 points clear of Roy Block and Tim Lewis (No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR).
In the Grand Sport (GS) class, Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman (No. 7 Volt Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4) were 290 points clear of Erik Voss (No. 56 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4).
Van Berlo wins pole position in the Porsche Carrera Cup
The top four drivers in the Pro class took the top four places in qualifying for the inaugural Porsche Carrera Cup North America, hosted by the Cayman Islands. Points leader Kay van Berlo (3rd Car Kelly Moss Porsche 911 GT3 Cup) secured pole position with a lap time of 2:08.061 (1:13.795 mph). His lap was 0.257 seconds better than teammate Riley Dickinson (#53 Porsche).
Parker Thompson, who is second in the season’s standings, 52 points behind van Berlo, qualified third in the No. 9 Porsche JDX Racing and Trenton Estep fourth in the No. 6 Porsche MDK Motorsports. Saturday’s race starts at 9:50 AM ET and is streamed live on Peacock and IMSA.com/TVLive.
Official, Marcelli Sweep Lamborghini Super Trofeo Qualifying
Qualification 1 Results | Qualification 2 results
Prestige Performance with Wayne Taylor Racing co-drivers Danny Formal and Kyle Marchelli took pole positions in both Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America qualifying sessions on Friday. Formally maneuvered the No. 1 Lamborghini Paramus, Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo Evo2 on the 4.048 mile track in 2:06.141 (115.527 mph) to earn pole in race 1. Marcelli’s fast lap of 2:05.844 (115.800 mph) secured first place. starting point for race 2.
Race 1 is streaming live on Peacock and IMSA.com/TVLive starting at 10:50 AM ET on Saturday. Broadcast Race 2 on the same channels at 14:55 on Sunday.