Michelin GT Challenge At VIR – IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship – GTD – #96 Turner Motorsport Liqui Moly BMW M6 GT3
With a strong qualifying performance placing the #96 Liqui Moly BMW M6 GT3 on the front row of the GTD field in 2nd, Robby Foley took the lead going into VIR’s turn 1, seconds after the green flag dropped. This maneuver would play a key role in the team’s strategy which also included executing lighting fast pit stops and taking advantage of cautions.
After completing a flawless stint, Robby handed the car over to then Mr. 60 wins, Bill Auberlen (not to be confused with soon-to-be Mr. 60 years young, Iceman Don Salama) who maintained the lead for the entire race. Bill was able to focus on keeping the lead while 2nd, 3rd and 4th place were nose-to-tail battling for position his rearview mirror.
While the win alone was impressive, the victory marked a record-setting 61 career wins for Bill Auberlen who eclipsed Scott Pruett for the most IMSA wins after tying him last year with the 2019 Petit Le Mans class win in the Turner BMW.
“I have to admit, I think my heart stopped for a second when I saw the hard charging Acura dive bomb for position. Fortunately, the challenger out broke himself in turn 1 and went off. If he had made the pass – we would have never won” said Team Boss and CTO (Chief Taco Officer) Will Turner.
SUNDAY, AUGUST 23 – Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix – IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge – GS – #95 Turner Motorsport, H&R Springs BMW M4 GT4 / #96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4
Following Saturday’s monumental win in the Michelin GT Challenge at VIR, Bill Auberlen was instructed to keep his lucky Nomex underwear on. Using the same underwear and co-driver from the previous day (hey, if it’s not broke, don’t fix it), Bill Auberlen and Robby Foley jumped into the #95 Turner Motorsport H&R Springs BMW M4 GT4 for the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge race, Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix, while Vin Barletta started for the #96 Turner Motorsport / RDM / BMW M4 GT4.
Taking into account what he learned from Saturday’s WeatherTech Championship race win, Foley knew the game plan would be the same, if possible, get out front and hold the faster cars behind him for as long as he could. This strategy organized by the Ice Man himself, Don Salama, forced challengers to beat up their tires in attempt to gain position over Foleys M4.
After Foley completed his stint in the #95 H&R Springs machine, he brought the car into the pits and handed the keys to the now Mr. 61 (all time IWSC wins), Bill Auberlen, and took over for Vin Barletta in the #96 who pitted just seconds later. Just as he did in the previous race, Auberlen pushed hard on cold tires and gained a slight gap over the field letting the battles for remaining positions play out behind him which also included his teammate Robby Foley now behind the wheel of the #96.
Auberlen would drive his #95 M4 to Victory Lane for a second time this weekend adding another GS victory to his 17 career wins in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Series. If doing double-duty in the car wasn’t enough, Foley would find himself split on the podium as he and Vin Barletta placed third in the race, giving Barletta a career first podium.
Mr. 61, Bill Auberlen: “I don’t know what to say. I’m still at a loss for words, this weekend was surreal. Going into the weekend we knew we had good cars, but you can’t begin to imagine an outcome like this for both races. Between the car setups and the strategy for both races, our team put us in prime position for this kind of success. I’m sure I have more to say, but right now I’m just processing it all.”
Robby Foley: “This weekend was the best case of Groundhog Day you could ask for. In both races we had a good car, but not nearly the fastest car. Our strategy was to do whatever we could to stay out front because passing other cars would be difficult for us.”
Vin Barletta: “(Will) Turner said to me before the start of the race, Just go out there, no pressure, do your best, bring the car in clean and the pressure will be on young Foley to do the rest, and that’s what I did… So happy for the team, they have been working so hard to get us this result.”
The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge GS race will be televised again on Tuesday September 1st @ 5pm ET on NBCSN
Turner Motorsport heads to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta for the Michelin Endurance Challenge Weekend, September 4 – 6.