Carbahn Audi breaks through at Sebring

March 15, 2019

Carbahn Audi breaks through at Sebring

March 15, 2019

Jeff Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie drove a dominating race Friday afternoon in their No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 to win the two-hour IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge race at Sebring International Raceway, the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120.

The duo won the GS category by a margin of 7.75 seconds over the second-place team of Devin Jones and James Clay in the No. 82 Bimmerworld BMW. Jesse Lazare and Corey Fergus finished third driving the No. 69 MIA Racing McLaren, with Lazare holding off a hard charging Dylan Murry at the finish for the final podium position.

GS winners celebrate. Photo: Michelin North America

“We knew it would be a hot race, so tire degradation would be a key,” said Westphal, who will also race in Saturday’s Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with the WeatherTech-backed Scuderia Corsa Ferrari team.

“We worked really hard to make the car consistent. Tyler had a great opening stint – it was flawless – and he came in with the lead and we ran in clean air all day.”

“We had very high expectations, and the car stayed great the entire weekend,” added McQuarrie, who earned his first-ever victory in the GS class. “We led (nearly) the entire race today to give this team a win – their first win – at one of the most iconic road courses. It has a ton of history, so it makes it extra special to win here at Sebring.”

The TCR podium. Photo: Michelin North America

In the TCR category, Shelby Blackstock and Tom O’Gorman captured the win in the No. 37 L.A. Honda World Racing Honda, giving them two wins in the season’s first two races.

They fought closely for nearly the entire race with the second-place finishers, Mikey Taylor and Britt Casey Jr. in the No. 17 JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi. Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger teamed to finish third in the No. 89 HART Racing Team Honda.

“At Daytona, we let the race come to us,” said O’Gorman, about their first win of the year. “But today we went out and grabbed it!”

“We may not have had the best pace on new tires,” said Blackstock. “But we knew we had good pace on the long run. This is special. [Daytona and Sebring] are totally different race tracks. One is very smooth and high-banked and then here it’s extremely bumpy and it’s great to win a race at both tracks.”

The race capped off a weekend for the GS and TCR classes that set several records. The pole times in both classes were anywhere from one (GS) to three (TCR) seconds quicker than in 2018. Fastest race laps also eclipsed the 2018 mark.  

GS winners McQuarrie and Westphal, with Mark Siegel (drove sister No. 93 car) in the middle. Photo: Michelin North America

Carbahn was also one of several who raced in the non-points Michelin IMSA SportsCar Encore back in November, to get data to race with the MICHELIN Pilot Sport commercial race tires in a competitive but relaxed setting ahead of this year’s race.

The series’ next race is at Mid-Ohio in May.

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