Imsa Michelin Pilot Challenge

Foley and Barletta Ride New BMW to Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 Win in 1-2 Turner Motorsport Sweep

Late Pass Puts Lewis and Block Back in Victory Lane in No. 5 Alfa Romeo in TCR


By John Oreovicz and Holly Cain


Race Results


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — Robby Foley took the lead after a restart with a little more than 20 minutes remaining in the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway, and his No. 96 Turner Motorsport teammate Cameron Lawrence followed him home to complete a 1-2 finish overall and in the Grand Sport (GS) class for Turner and the new BMW M4 GT4 (G82).


Vin Barletta ran the first 47 minutes of the two-hour contest in Turner’s No. 96 BMW before handing off to Foley in a green flag pit stop. The timing of the stops worked well, because as other teams’ strategies played out during a series of full-course cautions, Foley found himself running second and in position to attack leader Christian Szymczak (No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4).


“Brilliant strategy from our guys,” said Foley after his fourth career victory in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition. “It looked like we might have been off strategy during the first couple yellows, but that was all to plan to play out later. You can never predict them exactly, but there’s a high probability of yellows here. This race played out like many before, and it’s a testament to our guys on the box. They’ve been doing this for so long that they’ve seen these scenarios a hundred times.”


Foley passed Szymczak with 22 minutes left on the race clock, then held on through one final restart to win by 0.601 seconds over Turner’s No. 95 entry shared by Lawrence and Robert Megennis. Robin Liddell rallied from seventh to third in the closing laps in the No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R.


It was the first race win in Michelin Pilot Challenge action for the G82-generation of the legendary BMW M3, and the second for Barletta, for whom Foley serves as a mentor and driving coach.


Barletta noted that he is benefitting from also competing for Turner in the IMSA VP Racing SportsCar Challenge, a series of sprint races for GT4 sedans and LMP3 prototypes. The VP Racing Challenge was in action at Sebring last weekend.


“Where I am, with Robby coaching me, every lap is important at this point to get experience and push myself to improve as a driver,” Barletta said. “It’s very valuable.


“I just tried to stay clean,” he added. “I feel I did my job and we had great pit stops by the team. There was a lot of stuff going on out there today, and Robby had the pace at the end when it counted.”


Foley fell back on the old adage that track position is king.


“I’m not sure we had the fastest car, but I know we had a fast car when it counted,” he said. “The new car for us takes a little longer to come in, and you really have to be aggressive with your tires under yellow. So, I was ready to go for every restart. I don’t think I had a lot of pace on the guys behind, so it was a matter of opening up a little gap on that first lap. That was the difference for me.”


#5: KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering, Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR, TCR: Tim Lewis, Roy Block


Late Pass Puts Lewis and Block Back in Victory Lane in No. 5 Alfa Romeo in TCR


The Touring Car (TCR) class win went to Florida-based KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering. Driver Tim Lewis made his move to the lead in the No. 5 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR RS3 after several corners of intense side-by-side racing with Bryan Herta Autosport driver Robert Wickens  – pulling ahead just before the race’s final full-course caution came out – with a little more than 10 minutes remaining in the two-hour event.


Wickens had taken the race lead with about an hour remaining when his No. 33 BHA Hyundai pitted ahead of a caution period near the race’s midpoint. While the rest of the TCR class came in for driver changes during that ensuing yellow, the No. 33 had already completed its service and driver change and assumed the lead.


Wickens held off Lewis and the 15-car TCR field by nearly a second at one point with Lewis fighting back and ultimately pulling up to challenge Wickens corner after corner as the caution flag came out.


“I don’t think it was side-by-side,’’ Wickens said. “To be honest, the visibility in these cars is quite challenging and I could see that he was close and wasn’t sure if I was exactly clear, so I left him some space and then I saw the flashing light [signifying a caution flag] in my car so I lifted. And he proceeded to overtake me.


“So, in my mind, he definitely wasn’t ahead of me.’’


Wickens said IMSA told the Bryan Herta team that the overtake “was in progress before the yellow” so that’s why Lewis was allowed to keep the position, ultimately taking a 1.671-second victory. The No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N finished third with drivers Mark Wilkins and Mason Filippi.


“There was a disabled car on the side of the track for two laps before, and conversing with my team, they said ‘Hey, if you’re going to go for it, you need to go for it now,’’’ Lewis said, “And that’s when Robbie made just the slightest mistake and we went side-by-side for three turns.’’


Lewis said there was no question he had made the pass prior to the yellow flag, noting his team also called into race control during the caution period to verify his position out front.


This is the sixth win for the No. 5 driver pairing – Lewis, of Boca Raton and his co-driver Roy Block, of Winter Park – and their first at the famed Sebring International Raceway.