The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Driver Has Been Confirmed the Youngest IMSA TCR Pole Winner by Guinness World Records
By Mark Robinson
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – When the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge takes the track this week for the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120, there will be a new Guinness World Record holder among the field.
Robert Noaker, co-driver of the No. 84 Atlanta Speedwerks Honda Civic FK7 TCR, recently received confirmation from the renowned compiler of global achievements that he became the youngest IMSA pole winner in Touring Car (TCR) class history when he was the fast qualifier for the season-opening BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway. The talented newcomer recorded the feat at age 16, just four days before he turned 17 on January 31.
IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge: WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 Entry List
Reflecting on it, Noaker wasn’t even sure he had won the Motul Pole Award when he took the checkered flag in qualifying.
“I didn’t know that I got pole until probably halfway through the cooldown lap because they (his crew in the pits) weren’t sure with other people crossing the line,” he said. “I couldn’t believe it. First time qualifying the car and racing in IMSA to begin with – and getting a pole in IMSA – it was more than I ever thought I would be able to do.”
It wasn’t Noaker’s first Guinness record, however. When the third-generation racer won an Idemitsu Mazda MX-5 Cup Presented by BFGoodrich Tires race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in 2018 at age 14, he was noted as the youngest winner of an IndyCar-sanctioned race. The Mazda MX-5 Cup moved under the IMSA sanctioning banner this year.
Since winning the pole at Daytona, Noaker and co-driver Brian Henderson have collected their first Michelin Pilot Challenge win, July 2 at Watkins Glen International. They sit ninth in the TCR standings heading to WeatherTech Raceway but are just 100 points out of the top five in the highly competitive class.
There are 13 TCR entries for Saturday’s two-hour race on the 11-turn, 2.238-mile road course in Monterey, California. Michael Lewis and Taylor Hagler, who share the No. 77 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Veloster N TCR, have a 190-point lead over teammate Parker Chase (No. 98 BHA Hyundai Elantra N TCR) atop the class standings.
The Grand Sport (GS) class boasts 21 entries, including one for the No. 99 Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4 featuring two drivers making their Michelin Pilot Challenge debut. Weiron Tan and Anderson Tanoto will share the No. 99 with support from Stoner Car Care and Invisible Glass.
Tan, 26, started his racing career in the open-wheel ranks before moving to sports car racing in 2017. The native of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, has competed in the Asian Le Mans Series, the Blancpain GT Series Asia and World Endurance Championship. Tan is also co-founder of the official Aston Martin racing representative in Asia.
Tanoto, the 32-year-old from Jakarta, Indonesia, has raced in the Asian Audi R8 LMS Cup, Blancpain GT World Challenge Asia and Porsche Carrera Cup Asia. While Tan has open-wheel junior formula experience at WeatherTech Raceway, this will be Tanoto’s first competition at the track.
“We made a miracle happen in a short amount of time,” Tan said. “We are so lucky to be working with (Automatic Racing team manager) David Russell as we get ready to join the Michelin Pilot Challenge. It’s wonderful to be back in a seat and to race alongside Anderson. I’m still involved in motorsports with the Aston Martin distributorship, but it’s good to get back in the car.”
Michelin Pilot Challenge cars will be on track for a pair of practice sessions on Friday. Qualifying takes place Saturday morning, ahead of the race that starts at 7:40 p.m. ET Saturday. The race streams live on TrackPass on NBC Sports Gold in the U.S. and internationally on IMSA.com/TVLive.