Alexander Sims claims a first win for RLL BMW's M8
BMW claimed a first victory for its M8 machinery during Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge at Virginia International Raceway with Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi taking the chequered flag first.
The #25 BMW Team RLL duo narrowly beat the #3 Corvette C7.R of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia by just 1.323 seconds with a timely fuel-only stop in the final 30 minutes of the race proving to be the standout strategic decision.
It should have been a comfortable victory, but for a drive-through penalty served by Sims in the second hour of the race after the blame for a clash with a GT-class car was put on the #25 entry.
It was a closely fought podium with the second Team RLL BMW M8 of Jesse Krohn and John Edwards making it a double podium in third, just seven-tenths off Magnussen’s Corvette – which now holds the championship lead after reliability gremlins hit Richard Westbrook and Ryan Briscoe. A clutch issue forcing the retirement of the #67 Ford GT.
However Briscoe did briefly return to the action following the retirement of the #911 Porsche 911 RSR which suffered an engine failure. Briscoe and Westbrook therefore picked up seventh place.
The #66 Ford GT piloted by Dirk Mueller and Joey Hand was fourth, more than 30 seconds off the lead.
In the GTD class, victory went to Dominik Baumann and Kyle Marcelli in the #14 Lexus RC F GT3 car after a thrilling three-car late-race battle which saw a winning margin of just half a second over the #58 Wright Motorsports Porsche 911 GT3 R driven by Patrick Long.
Katherine Legge found herself in the battle for second place on the final lap but didn’t quite have enough in the tank to find a way past and ended up settling for third the complete the GTD podium.
Points leaders Bryan Sellers and Madison Snow finished sixth after suffering damage in the final hour of the race when they made contact with the #86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3. Sellers managed to recover three places after the incident, having dropped down to ninth.
The #63 Scuderia Corsa Ferrari 488 GT3 of Gunnar Jeannette and Cooper MacNeil was fourth, 15 seconds off the leaders pace.
Completing the top five was the #33 Riley Motorsports Mercedes-AMG GT3.