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How Owen Trinkler and Ted Giovanis Took New Porsche to Michelin Pilot Challenge Points Lead

The No. 64 Team TGM Porsche Is Tied for the GS Points Lead in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Heading to WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca

By Holly Cain

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – You’d be hard-pressed to find a more motivated team than the Team TGM pairing currently tied for the lead in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge Grand Sport (GS) class.

“TGM” stands for Ted Giovanis Motorsports, a nod to the 76-year-old team owner who shares the No. 64 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport with veteran Owen Trinkler, 45. Despite the relatively new driver pairing (they first teamed last season) and a switch to Porsche power this year, they find themselves on top of the standings boosted by early season success as they prepare for the WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 on Saturday.

WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 Entry List

“No. 1, I’m super excited for Ted Giovanis,’’ Trinkler said. “I owe so much to him for the championship we got in 2018 for the team. My goal with him – I’ve won races and a championship with him as a team owner – but I told him when we got paired together to drive, ‘Let’s do this, buddy, I’m here for you. Let’s go do this together.’

“I wanted to get him on the podium and win races. I know we’re only two races in, but what a magical year already for Ted. I think it’s such a cool thing and the team is really on a high from that in a car that nobody expected to be leading the championship, really.”

With a runner-up finish in the BMW M Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway in January and a seventh-place showing in the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway last month, Team TGM is tied with the No. 7 Volt Racing Aston Martin’s Trent Hindman and Alan Brynjolfsson atop the standings – 40 points ahead of the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 team of veteran Bill Auberlen and Dillon Machavern.

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And as Trinkler said, expectations were initially tempered in what was expected to be a transition year to the Porsche.

“We’re still learning this new car,’’ Trinkler said. “We have no notes on the Porsche, so now we’re learning a new product. Every track we come up on this is new for us, so we’re learning as a team on what we need to apply. And we’re leading the championship in a car that is brand new to us, so we’ll keep getting better through the year as far as our setups and what we learn this car likes and doesn’t like.’’

There’s legitimately no one better to help gauge that than Trinkler, who came on the IMSA scene in the mid-1990s as one of the youngest to start a Rolex 24 At Daytona race. He now counts 172 Michelin Pilot Challenge races to his credit – most in history – and the 2018 GS championship he and Hugh Plumb won driving for Giovanis.

And the famed 2.238-mile WeatherTech Raceway track has been one of Trinkler’s favorites throughout his career.

“I’ve run Laguna since 1997, I think, so a lot of experience there at Laguna and I love the place,’’ said Trinkler, who won at the track in his 2018 championship season and has multiple podium finishes there as well.

“I like that it has the old pavement because the tire fall-off happens and that makes it a driver’s track. You’ve got to own it on the setup, too, but then at that point the driver is involved in keeping the car on track in a slick environment with the tires falling off. I love that aspect.”

Trinkler was encouraged by a two-day test at WeatherTech Raceway with Giovanis earlier this month and genuinely has high expectations for the upcoming race.

“I have every confidence when Ted comes back here in a couple weeks and runs what he did, we’ll be a player in this,’’ Trinkler said. “All I ask for is a shot when we go to (the season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta) to mathematically still be involved in it.

“And that’s what I told him: It’s the long game. We may lose this (points lead) at some point, even after the next round, but it doesn’t matter. As long as we’re finishing consistently and doing what we need to do, we’ll hang around in this thing the rest of the year. That’s all we can ask for.”

Team TGM fields a second Porsche, the No. 46 co-driven by brothers Hugh and Matt Plumb, that is tied for fifth in the GS standings. A total of 41 cars – 28 in GS and 13 in Touring Car (TCR) – are entered this week. One notable change finds Sheena Monk and Kyle Marcelli moving into the No. 42 PF Racing Ford Mustang GT4 after their No. 3 Toyota Supra GT4 was deemed beyond repair following a crash at Sebring.

A pair of Michelin Pilot Challenge practices take place Friday at WeatherTech Raceway. Qualifying starts at 2 p.m. ET Saturday with the two-hour race streaming live on Peacock at 7 p.m. Saturday.