|July 6, 2019|
IMSA Wire Service
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario, Canada – On Saturday afternoon at
Canadian Tire Motorsport Park, it was an underdog team with
a powerhouse manufacturer that emerged as victors in the
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.
For the first time since 2016, Rebel Rock Racing returned to the
Pilot Challenge full time this season after running select races
in 2017 and 2018. Co-drivers Robin Liddell and Frank Depew
paired up to bring the program back to life, with Depew as team
owner and Liddell as team manager.
That combination reached its pinnacle of success at CTMP,
winning overall in the No. 71 Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R and
earning Rebel Rock’s first victory in the Pilot Challenge. Liddell
was able to keep the determined No. 60 KohR Motorsports
Ford Mustang GT4 of Kyle Marcelli at bay to cross the finish
line first by .587 seconds.
The win halts a rocky start to the season that, before last week’s
finish of fifth at Watkins Glen, didn’t see a result within the top 20.
“To finally get here, and with Frank especially, in his first
season – he’s had a very difficult start to the season, as I’m sure
you’ve seen, and that puts a lot of pressure on him,” said Liddell.
“But he’s a true sportsman and he’s a team player. He hasn’t
wavered his support. He’s focused his mind on getting better.
“I’ve worked very hard with him and he’s worked very hard to
get better. I think you saw the results of those efforts. It’s easy
to overlook from the outside looking in, the amount of effort that
any of these guys put into their racing. But without these guys,
we wouldn’t have a series, especially in this championship, so
we need to look after these guys and we need to give credit
where credit’s due. Hats off to him, because he’s done a mega job.”
“I’ve never driven this track, so Robin and I came here in a rental
car and drove around to show me the track,” added Depew.
“We went pretty slow, but then I showed up here with the
Camaro and I’d never been on this track. It’s a pretty daunting
track. It took me a while and I was making pretty big jumps. I
was about two seconds off the leader for this race, which I was
pretty happy with.
“I kept the car where I needed to and then Robin did all the hard
work. I think that, to be at this point and to actually win a race at
this point, especially at a track I’ve never driven – because I’ve got
a lot of experience at other tracks – is a tall order and an
Marcelli, a Toronto native, looked to defend his 2018 CTMP victory
with co-driver Nate Stacy, looming large in Liddell’s mirror for the
final 15 minutes of the race following a restart. The team
ultimately wound up second place, the team’s best performance
of the year thus far.
Another Canadian representative in the field, Montreal-based
team Motorsports In Action, finished third on the podium with
drivers Jesse Lazare, also from Montreal, and Corey Fergus. It’s
the third podium for the team in the season’s five races.
Casey, Jr., Taylor Overcome Pit Stop Setback for Entertaining
Finish on Way to TCR Win with JDC-Miller Motorsports
When Mikey Taylor brought his leading No. 17 JDC-Miller
Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS in for a pit stop halfway through the
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, the team’s momentum took
an unexpected hit that required the remainder of the race to
fight back from in the TCR class.
At first, the fire extinguisher was accidentally set off, creating
confusion amongst the team as Taylor and co-driver Britt Casey, Jr.
swapped spots. Then as Casey proceeded to exit the pit box, a
tire blocked his path and forced the Audi up and over the equipment.
A drive-through penalty was assessed for the car that had led
the entire race up until that point, dropping it down the charts
and down a lap.
Casey was able to fight back through the field in outstanding
fashion, skillfully navigating the top cars in the final 15 minutes
of the race to come door-to-door with teammate Stephen Simpson
in the leading No. 54 JDC-Miller Audi. The two bounced off each
other, with Casey eventually able to pull away for the win
by 3.854 seconds.
“It was super wild,” said Casey, Jr. “I think it all started as soon
as the driver change happened…The only reason we were able
to pit when we did was because Mikey was able to drive it for,
like, and hour and 10 and no one else could do that. We led the
whole first stint and managed the gap the entire time and it made
my job a lot easier. I had more tools to work with at the end with
tires, and we came back from a lap down, P10, and just methodical
from there. It was like focus forward.”
“Overall, the car was quite a dream to drive, so it wasn’t too
difficult,” added Taylor. “But pity about that whole pit stop issue.
We’ll work on that for the next one. I’m just happy we came back
from it. I didn’t think we could win. I thought we could maybe
podium if we got back on the lead lap, but yeah, a win is awesome.”
Similar to how Casey made his way up the field, Colin Mullan
– who co-drives with Max Faulkner in the No. 52 L.A. Honda
World Racing Honda Civic – snuck into second place as the top
cars jockeyed for position amongst themselves and erred with
either drives through the grass or contact that derailed the lap.
Jonathan Morley was an example of the latter, after making
contact with Simpson’s Audi skidding far off the track line. Only
with a monumental save did Morley hold onto third place for him
and co-driver Gavin Ernstone to round out the TCR podium.
The Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120 will be televised on
Tuesday, July 16 at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN.
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is officially halfway through
its 2019 campaign, with the second half of the season kicking off
at Connecticut’s Lime Rock Park on July 18 – 20. The Lime Rock
Park 120 goes green Saturday, July 20 at 11:10 a.m. ET. Tickets
are available at www.limerockpark.com.
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