Herta Hyundai pair poised for TCR title tilt

September 5, 2019

Herta Hyundai pair poised for TCR title tilt

September 5, 2019

Bryan Herta has said of his four drivers in the IMSA MICHELIN Pilot Challenge that “they might be the nicest four drivers in the paddock.”

They also can drive.

Heading into the penultimate round of the Pilot Challenge season, the quartet of drivers in the pair of Hyundai Veloster N TCR cars sit 1-2 in the TCR class championship.

It’s become neck-and-neck as the young pairing of Mason Filippi and Harry Gottsacker is surging, while points leaders Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis have had both higher peaks and lower valleys.

Gottsacker and Filippi on The Torque Show, presented by Michelin, at Watkins Glen.

Filippi, 21, and Gottsacker, 20, have been on a tear in the last three races. After a bit of bad luck dogged potential podium finishes, the pair broke through for their first podium as a duo at Lime Rock Park.

The luck continued to turn next race at Road America. When the winning TCR car on the road was sent to the rear of the field for a drive-time infraction, Filippi and Gottsacker were the beneficiaries.

A similar last-lap bit of chaos benefited this pair again at VIR. After surviving a three-wide scrap down the backstraight, they made it home to the checkered flag in second place.

“It was a wild race at VIR!” Filippi said. “The Bryan Herta Autosport Veloster N TCR was incredible in the varying conditions.  The last couple of laps were especially crazy and we finished second.  It was a great points day for the team, and we are first and second in the championship. Incredible!”

This run of form has placed them just five points behind Wilkins and Lewis, who have gained points in key spots to remain atop the standings for a third consecutive race. Wilkins and Lewis have won twice but also have finished ninth or worse, twice.

A potential key to their title bid – if they win the title – was a final-lap surge at Road America by Lewis to gain five positions from ninth to fourth. Those positions, right now, are the difference between teams. They had to make an extra stop after a puncture, but rallied.

“I owe our complete success in finishing in fourth place to our teams fast pit stops,” Lewis said. “We had one crucial pit stop to make in a short amount of time so we wouldn’t go a lap down, and the team did it.”

The run of results from both drivers are keeping Hyundai alive in the TCR manufacturer’s championship, as well, despite racing against two other manufacturers with at least four cars racing.

Through VIR, Honda leads Audi by one point, and Hyundai by two points. It’s an utter dogfight ahead for both championships.

More on Hyundai’s season can be found here, via the Pole Position: Next Level video series.

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