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Michelin Pilot Challenge Competitors Prepare for Street Fight

Saturday’s Race in Detroit Marks the Series’ First on a Street Course in 13 Years
Official Entry List


By Tony DiZinno


DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Fans clamoring for an IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge standalone weekend will get their wish with the Chevrolet Detroit Sports Car Classic in a couple days on the streets of downtown Detroit.


If you’re wondering when either of those items happened and thinking it’s been a minute, you’d be right.


The last Michelin Pilot Challenge street race ran at Circuit Trois-Rivieres in 2010. The series in its former name and class iteration ran as part of the Quebec city’s local grand prix weekend with a pair of split two-hour races for the Grand Sport (GS) and Street Tuner (ST) classes on a 10-turn, 1.521-mile track.


That split race format has most recently been seen at Lime Rock Park, a similar short circuit.


With that limited historical data in mind, there are some tangential similarities as Michelin Pilot Challenge GS class competitors look ahead to the Detroit street circuit.


It will again feature just one of the series’ two classes; the lone standalone race for the Touring Car (TCR) class comes later this year at Lime Rock. It will be a 100-minute race from 4:10-5:50 p.m. ET Saturday. This mirrors traditional IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship street races at Long Beach and at the former Detroit location, the Belle Isle Street Course.


The revived downtown circuit will be a 1.7-mile, nine-turn, concrete-lined track. As a new venue for all competitors in this and any IMSA-sanctioned series, no one will have any data.


The 22-car field features eight different brands (Aston Martin, BMW, Chevrolet, Ford, McLaren, Mercedes-AMG, Porsche and Toyota) racing in the automotive hotbed of activity.


Adding to the unique aspect of this race is a split pit lane, where competitors can pit on either side depending on where their pit stall is located. Teams will work with a minimum drive time of 30 minutes and maximum of 70 for each driver, down from 40 and 80 at two-hour races. This opens the strategy window for the one anticipated pit stop a little earlier than normal. Pit stops and qualifying generally make bigger impacts in street races.


Chevrolet will have a home race showcase for its Camaro GT4.R in front of the Renaissance Center, the international headquarters for General Motors. Robin Liddell and Frank DePew will seek to deliver a win for GM in their No. 71 Rebel Rock Racing Camaro.


Crosstown rivals Ford counter with a pair of Mustang GT4s. The McCumbee McAleer Racing with AEROSPORT team has enlisted Ford GT ace Joey Hand to share the No. 13 car with rising star Jenson Altzman, while past series champions KohR Motorsports features Bob Michaelian and teenaged Luca Mars in its No. 59 car.


As far as Michelin Pilot Challenge competitors with street course experience, it’s a mixed bag. Both a GS (Matt Plumb) and ST (Owen Trinkler) class winner from Trois-Rivieres 2010 will be in the field this week, in separate Team TGM Aston Martin Vantage GT4s. Plumb’s brother and co-driver Hugh, as well as Spencer Pumpelly (No. 83 BGB Motorsports Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport) were also in that Trois-Rivieres race.


Other drivers with WeatherTech Championship street race experience expected to take to the streets of Motown include:


  • Robby Foley, No. 96 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 (G82)
  • Robert Megennis, No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 (G82)
  • Stevan McAleer, No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport
  • Jeff Westphal, No. 39 CarBahn with Peregrine Racing Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport
  • Daniel Morad, No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4
  • Patrick Lindsey, No. 88 Archangel Motorsports Aston Martin Vantage GT4


Christian Szymczak and Kenny Murillo enter Detroit with a 90-point lead in the season championship standings on the heels of their overdue first victory at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca earlier this month in their No. 72 Murillo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4.


Sebring winners Foley and Vin Barletta are second, with Pumpelly and Thomas Collingwood tied with Gregory Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan (No. 43 Stephen Cameron Racing BMW M4 GT4 (G82)) tied for third.


Of note, Birmingham, Michigan-based Thaze Competition by MC Squared makes its series debut in its home race. Holland, Michigan, driver Marc Miller and Richmond Hill, Ontario’s Michael DiMeo are a potentially potent pairing to watch in the team’s No. 78 Mercedes-AMG GT GT4.


Drivers have two practice sessions on Friday before qualifying at 4:50 p.m. ET. The 100-minute race streams live on Peacock with a start time of 4:10 p.m. Saturday.