Season in Review: Continental Tire Challenge
Tuesday, October 16, 2018

The Fox Factory 120 at Road Atlanta on Friday capped off what has been a spectacular season of racing in IMSA’s Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge.

After 10 hard-fought races, champions across the series’ three classes were crowned – in Grand Sport (GS), Hugh Plumb and Owen Trinkler in the No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4; in the first season for TCR, the No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS of Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long; and the final Street Tuner (ST) title went to Nick Galante and Devin Jones in the No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i.

This season-in-review takes a look back at the paths that all three champions took on their way to history.

 

1. BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway, January 26

Winners

GS: Spencer Pumpelly and Dillon Machavern, No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR

TCR: Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long, No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Nick Galante and Devin Jones, No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i

How the Champions Fared

The TCR and ST champions came out of the gate firing on all cylinders at the four-hour, season-opening enduro. It was the first Continental Tire Challenge victory for both Britt Casey, Jr. and Devin Jones, and BimmerWorld Racing was doubly victorious as its GS car, the No. 82 BMW M4 GT4 of Tyler Cooke and team owner James Clay, finished runner-up on the podium as well. GS champions Plumb and Trinkler narrowly missed out on a top-five result, finishing sixth.

 

2. Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway, March 16

Winners

GS: Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli, No. 60 KohR Motorsports / Roush Performance Ford Mustang GT4

TCR: Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer, No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Jared Salinsky and Mark Pombo, No. 52 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW

How the Champions Fared

Sebring wasn’t especially kind to any of the eventual champions. Plumb and Trinkler would come home with an eighth-place finish, good in number but eventually the team’s second-poorest performance of the season. Galante and Jones also scored their lowest result of the year, placing last of the five ST cars entered. It was true heartbreak though for the No. 77 in TCR – after leading 39 of the race’s 47 laps, the car slowed while running in first place coming to the checkered flag. The Audi was overtaken by its sister car, the No. 74 of Sales and Wittmer, in the final corners for the win and dropped to a fifth-place finish.

 

3. Mid-Ohio 120 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course, May 5

Winners

GS: Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli, No. 60 KohR Motorsports / Roush Performance Ford Mustang GT4

TCR: Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer, No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo, No. 73 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW

How the Champions Fared

Two of the three champions held steady at Mid-Ohio, with Team TGM breaking into the top five for the first time on the year with a fourth-place finish and BimmerWorld rounding out the ST podium in third. In TCR, however, Casey and Long were dealt another blow with an odd twist of events. On the final lap, Long was able to pass teammate Wittmer for the lead, seeking their second win of the year. However, the move was negated after replays showed the move was made in a local caution area created by an off-track GS car. The win was taken from the No. 77, and Long and Casey finished second. Compass Racing swept the podium though with Pierre Kleinubing and Roy Block in the No. 75 Audi finishing third.

 

4. Continental Tire 240 at Watkins Glen International, June 30

Winners

GS: Chad McCumbee and Patrick Gallagher, No. 8 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4

TCR: Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long, No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Colin Mullan and Mark Pombo, No. 52 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW

How the Champions Fared

It was redemption at Watkins Glen for Long and Casey who, with the win, swept the TCR endurance races of the season and narrowed the points gap to within six of leaders Wittmer and Sales. The bad luck of the weekend, however, went to Galante and Jones in ST. Despite leading a majority of the race from the pole position, an equipment malfunction in pit lane during the final hour dropped the future ST champions to second place. In GS, Plumb and Trinkler quietly scored their second straight top-five finish with a fifth place showing.

 

5. Canadian Tire Motorsport Park 120, July 7

Winners

GS: Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli, No. 60 KohR Motorsports / Roush Performance Ford Mustang GT4

TCR: Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long, No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Nick Galante and Devin Jones, No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i

How the Champions Fared

Championship-winning abilities were on full display for both Compass Racing and BimmerWorld Racing, as both teams took the victory at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in July. The win catapulted both teams into their respective class point standings by three points apiece. For Plumb and Trinkler in GS, the duo recorded their fifth consecutive top-10 finish with a seventh-place result.

 

6. Lime Rock Park 120, July 21

Winners

GS: Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb, No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4

TCR: Michael Johnson and Stephen Simpson, No. 54 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo, No. 73 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW

How the Champions Fared

Finally, it was Team TGM’s time to shine. Plumb and Trinkler recorded the first-ever victory not only for Team TGM in the series, but also for the Mercedes-AMG GT4 in North America. Patience and excellent pit work put the No. 46 in the lead for the final 54 laps of the race. Lime Rock Park was also the first race of the season that a team other than Compass Racing stood on the top step of the TCR podium, with the No. 77 finishing fourth. In ST, Galante and Jones wound up second, yet managed to expand their points lead to five over the MINI JCW fleet.

 

7. Road America 120, August 4

Winners

GS: Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman, No. 7 VOLT Racing Ford Mustang GT4

TCR: Rodrigo Sales and Kuno Wittmer, No. 74 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Nick Galante and Devin Jones, No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i

How the Champions Fared

The momentum for the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG team kept rolling after its first win two weeks prior, as Plumb and Trinkler finished third for their second podium of the year. They also slid up into the championship lead, which they wouldn’t relinquish for the remaining three races of the season.

The tug-of-war, meanwhile, between Compass Racing teammates in TCR as well as BMW and MINI in ST continued at Road America. Wittmer and Sales hopped back into the TCR championship lead after their third win of the year, while Long and Casey, Jr. took second. In ST, Galante and Jones put BMW back on top of the podium over MINI with their third win of the year as well.

 

8. Biscuitville Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway, August 18

Winners

GS: Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb, No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4

TCR: Kenton Koch and Tom O’Gorman, No. 12 eEuroparts.com Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Max Faulkner and Jason Rabe, No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman

How the Champions Fared

As if to solidify their stance in the championship, Team TGM took its second win and eighth consecutive top-10 finish of the year. Entering the race with only a one-point lead, Plumb and Trinkler left Virginia with a 17-point advantage. It was also another podium finish for Casey, Jr. and Long, although Wittmer and Sales finished a spot ahead to hang on to the TCR championship lead.

In ST, the manufacturer battle took an interesting turn when the winning No. 52 MINI was penalized for failing post-race inspection. What would have been a win dropped MINI to fifth place and moved up Galante and Jones into the runner-up spot, swelling their lead in the championship to 13 points.

 

9. WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120, September 8

Winners

GS: Owen Trinkler and Hugh Plumb, No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4

TCR: Britt Casey, Jr. and Tom Long, No. 77 Compass Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Nick Galante and Devin Jones, No. 81 BimmerWorld Racing BMW 328i

How the Champions Fared

There wasn’t a more telling sign of who would win each championship than the final results at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca. A last-lap pass for the GS win, a dominating TCR performance and a lengthy battle between ST manufacturers combined for an incredible show in Monterey and a fitting prelude to the season finale at Road Atlanta.

 

10. Fox Factory 120 at Road Atlanta, October 12

Winners

GS: James Clay and Tyler Cooke, No. 82 BimmerWorld Racing BMW M4 GT4

TCR: Kenton Koch and Tom O’Gorman, No. 12 eEuroparts.com Racing Audi RS3 LMS

ST: Mike LaMarra and Mat Pombo, No. 73 MINI JCW Team MINI JCW

How the Champions Fared

It’s wasn’t the easiest race for any of the eventual champions, but strong performances throughout the year had given the three teams plenty of breathing room to spare. Both Team TGM and BimmerWorld Racing only needed to meet drive-time requirements to lock up their championships, an advantage for TGM as the team placed outside the top 10 (11th place) for the first time all season. Galante and Jones ended its championship-winning season with a third-place finish.

The closest battle entering the race was that in TCR, with Casey, Jr. and Long holding a five-point lead over teammates Wittmer and Sales. However, an early incident involving the latter’s No. 74 Audi removed them from contention and the No. 77 finished third to secure the duo’s first championship in the Continental Tire Challenge.



Fans can re-watch each Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race on IMSA’s YouTube page. The Fox Factory 120 at Road Atlanta will be posted on YouTube after the television re-air on Sunday, October 21 at 7 a.m. ET. 

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