By Mark Robinson - IMSA.com
Told he had plenty of fuel to get to the finish, Jan Heylen wasn’t buying it.
Heylen passed Stevan McAleer with 12 minutes left, then held off repeated challenges from McAleer to prevail Sunday in the Virginia Is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway.
Heylen, who teamed with Ryan Hardwick, finished 0.516 seconds ahead of McAleer to score the second IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge victory of the season for the No. 16 Wright Motorsports Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 Clubsport.
After Heylen passed McAleer, he didn’t run away. Instead, he tried to save fuel with McAleer filling his mirrors.
“It was about the fuel,” Heylen said. “Even though the team was telling me that we were good on fuel, I’ve done a race in the past where I ran out on the last lap. I didn’t want a repeat of that, so I tried to save as much fuel as I could all the way to the end of the race. There was no reason to risk everything to try to make a big gap.”
After the race, the No. 23 Notlad Racing by RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 co-driven by McAleer and Patrick Gallagher failed a fuel capacity audit and was moved to last in the Grand Sport (GS) class. The No. 7 VOLT Racing with Archangel Aston Martin Vantage GT4 shared by Alan Brynjolfsson and Trent Hindman, which crossed the finish line in third place, moved up to second.
Heylen and the No. 16 Porsche were 80 points behind Bill Auberlen, Dillon Machavern and the No. 95 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT4 in the GS standings coming into the race. The deficit is down to 30 points, after the No. 95 BMW was moved up to third place with the No. 23 car’s disqualification. The season finale is set for Nov. 12 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“The championship will come to whichever car crosses the finish line first,” Hardwick said. “We don’t need any cars in between us; we don’t need any other factors. … That’s an awesome position to be in for us and them, as well. We enjoy racing against them, and I think the feeling is mutual.”
Virginia is for Racing Lovers: Provisional Results
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