Tommy Milner and Nick Tandy have taken victory in the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR in a drama-filled race that saw the GTLM frontrunners involved in multiple incidents.
Milner started the race from pole position in the #4 Corvette C8.R, but lost the lead on the opening lap as team-mate Jordan Taylor passed him at turn one in the #3 Corvette. Milner was able to regain the lead later when a slow stop for Taylor meant that Tandy, now behind the wheel of the #4 car, moved back to the front.
The race was then turned on its head when a big crash for the #66 Gradient Racing Acura NSX GT3 Evo of Mario Farnbacher brought out the safety car. Farnbacher made heavy front end impact with the tyre barriers after a suspected mechanical failure. The German’s car became stuck under the tyres as a result of the impact, but was unharmed in the incident.
The safety car brought the #79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche 911 RSR-19 driven by Kevin Estre into the battle, leading to an entertaining three-way fight between Tandy, Garcia and Estre.
The Frenchman first took second place from former Porsche team-mate Tandy. The Briton had dropped back behind Garcia during a second round of stops. Estre then went after Garcia and executed a forceful pass to take the lead of the race, which dropped Garcia to third.
Tandy, in turn, muscled his way past the Porsche at the Oak Tree corner, leaving Estre bouncing across the runoff and back to third place.
While Tandy opened up a gap, Estre retook second place from Garcia, but any victory hopes were dashed when the Porsche driver lost control of his car at Oak Tree and hit the barrier. He was able to continue, but fell back to third.
This left Tandy and Milner free to take victory ahead of Garcia and Taylor. The #3 Corvette finished second despite late contact with Turner Motorsports’ Bill Auberlen.
Estre and Cooper MacNeil completed the top three in the WeatherTech Racing Porsche.
Drama for Turner clears way for Pfaff comeback win
Pfaff Motorsports completed a remarkable comeback victory in GTD after their qualifying drama, but it was a direct result of late disaster for polesitters Turner Motorsport.
Robby Foley and Bill Auberlen started the race at Virginia International Raceway from pole in their #96 BMW M6 GT3, while Zacharie Robichon and Laurens Vanthoor started from the back in the #9 Porsche 911 GT3 R after a qualifying penalty.
Foley led much of the early running until pitting to hand over to Auberlen, at which point they were beaten out of the pits by the #1 Paul Miller Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo driven by Bryan Sellers.
At the same time, Vanthoor had already vaulted up to third place in class thanks to a strong opening stint from Robichon and a fast pitstop form the Canadian team.
Vanthoor then took the lead of the race during the pitstops under the safety car, with Auberlen now behind in second place and Sellers third.
The Porsche factory ace remained out front until the final round of stops, when a shorter pitstop for Turner Motorsport allowed Auberlen to vault back ahead and take the lead in class.
Auberlen then looked set to lead Vanthoor to the finish, until the #3 Corvette C8.R of Antonio Garcia attempted to overtake the BMW and spun, hitting Auberlen and causing a puncture.
Vanthoor and Robichon took the victory, with Sellers and Madison Snow second for Paul Miller Racing. Jack Hawksworth and Aaron Telitz completed the podium for Vasser Sullivan Racing thanks to a forceful late pass from Hawksworth on the Wright Motorsports Porsche of Patrick Long.
Long and Trent Hindman finished fourth, while Ross Gunn and Roman de Angelis finished fifth for the The Heart of Racing, wrapping up the Sprint Cup title in the process.