The first 2020 IMSA WeatherTech Championship race held without fans was one that the fans would have thoroughly enjoyed. Corvette Racing captured its fourth consecutive IMSA GT Le Mans victory of the season, and in GT Daytona Turner Motorsport BMW’s Bill Auberlen broke the all-time IMSA driver record in today’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway.
"The IMSA fans who traditionally attend the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR are very knowledgeable and share our passion for great competition. We certainly missed the energy of the fans, but they were with the teams and drivers in spirit and in following the broadcasts and social media. I am certain they are joining us and celebrating Bill Auberlen’s new all-time IMSA win record," said Tony Ménard, director of motorsport, Michelin North America.
The limited schedule for practice time, and new curbing in sections of the fast, high commitment 3.27-mile 17 turn circuit produced extremely close competition and misfortune for some.
Auberlen’s Record Win
The GTD class competition was incredibly exciting with six different car makes (BMW, Acura, Lamborghini, Mercedes-AMG, Lexus, Porsche) taking the top six finishing positions.
Auberlen, who shared the No. 96 Turner BMW M6 GT3 with Robby Foley, hailed the high level of competition throughout this class.
"That makes it all the better," said Auberlen, who has won races with MICHELIN® tires since the 1990s and with several different BMW chassis.
"That depth of drivers, (Bryan) Sellers, (Lawson) Aschenbach, the Acura behind him, and Lexus has been amazing. It makes it all the better when you finish ahead of them at the end."
Corvette Racing extended its GTLM win streak in an eventful race. Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia dropped to the rear of the class grid in their No. 3 Corvette C8.R having decided to switch tire compounds from qualifying to the race.
It ultimately paid dividends as nearly all six cars in class fought through adversity, with Garcia managing to hang on to a car with a broken rear diffuser. BMW and Porsche finished on the podium, ensuring all three full-season brands were represented.
NBC Notes: Michelin GT Challenge at VIR
- Michelin Tire Tech Tip Minute: While there are not fans at this year’s Michelin GT Challenge, Michelin is still present here this year to connect with fans in different ways. See how in this race’s NBC Sports’ Michelin Tire Tech Tip Minute, with NBC reporter Jon Beekhuis.
- Two More Times to Watch: Saturday’s Michelin GT Challenge from VIR airs tonight, Saturday, August 22 at 7:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN with an encore presentation Sunday, August 23 at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN. Meanwhile, the IMSA Prototype Challenge (9:35 a.m. ET) and IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge (2:55 p.m.) races air live Sunday on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold.
IMSA heads to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta from September 4-6, 2020 for the newly named Michelin Endurance Challenge race weekend.
The TireRack.com Grand Prix at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta is the second race of the four-race IMSA Michelin Endurance Cup, replacing the six-hour race originally scheduled for Watkins Glen International.
The six-hour WeatherTech Championship race is at 11:35 a.m. ET on Saturday, September 5, with coverage on NBCSN. MICHELIN Pilot Challenge runs a four-hour race at 12:10 p.m. ET on Sunday, September 6 (TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold).
All IMSA races air on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold. IMSA Radio carries all qualifying and races live, flag-to-flag and commercial free.