CJ Wilson Racing’s Danny Burkett and Marc Miller outpaced the competition through treacherous conditions in their Porsche Cayman GT4 Clubsport to win the IMSA Continental Tire Challenge Oak Tree Grand Prix at Virginia International Raceway. It was the first win of the year for the duo. Ryan Eversley and Chad Gislinger took the lead in ST halfway through the race and secured the win for the HART Racing Honda Civic Si, the first for the pair this year as well.
Following CJ Wilson Racing, Billy Johnson held off Trent Hindman to finish second with Scott Maxwell in the Multimatic Motorsports Shelby GT350R-C. Hindman completed the podium with team mate Cameron Cassels in the Bodymotion Racing Cayman. In ST, Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing finished second in the Murillo Racing Porsche Cayman followed by Derek Jones and Mat Pombo in the MINI JCW Team Mini Cooper.
The GS and ST fields took the green flag under a dry, but ominous sky as Sebastian Landy led the field from the pole position in the Automatic Racing Aston Martin Vantage. The ST class lead was immediately challenged as Gilsinger took the lead from teammate Kevin Boehm on the first lap. First-time GS competitor, Landy, showed pace early as he held off the Multimatic and C360R Fords of Maxwell and Paul Holton just before the rain started falling.
Torrential rains caused havoc for the Continental Tire Challenge field, ultimately bringing out the red flag between yellow flag periods. Though rain was light at first, only saturating portions of the track, conditions deteriorated quickly with even the GS leaders experiencing trouble – Maxwell, Holton, and Landy all experienced slide-offs along with most of the competition.
After over an hour break in the two-and-a-half hour race, cars returned to the racing surface. Almost every team pitted for fuel and tires under yellow flag conditions before going green, eliminating any chance of pit strategy for the race.
Billy Johnson took the green flag in the lead, but the Cayman’s performance was far superior in the rain, lending the top spot to Miller in just one lap. In ST, Stevan McAleer lead to the green flag, but the Mazda struggled to keep up with the front wheel drive of the Civic Si. Eversley made quick work of the MX-5 on his way to the front, where he held the lead to the end.
Late-race drama heated up as Hindman’s Porsche caught Johnson in the Ford. The two machines danced through the curves of VIR, even going two wide through Turn 3. The mid-engined Caymans had the advantage in slick conditions over the heavier, more powerful GT350R-C, but Johnson was able to hold off Hindman to secure second place by 0.234 seconds.
The win for Miller and Burkett brings them within 20 points of Maxwell and Johnson, with just two rounds remaining in the championship. The win for Porsche ties them with Ford for manufacturer points in the GS class. In ST, Nick Galante and Spencer Pumpelly continue to lead the championship by seven points over Chad McCumbee and McAleer despite finishing 14.
The Michelin GT Challenge continues tomorrow at Virginia International Raceway for the headlining event. The IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship takes to the circuit for the Oak Tree Grand Prix at 1:35 PM ET, followed by warmup at 8:05 AM ET. The Michelin GT Challenge will be live on Fox Sports 1 at 1:30 PM and all sessions will be streamed live on IMSA Radio.
Featured Image: CJ Wilson Racing, Twitter