By Jeff Olson - IMSA.com
This has been an unusual farewell season for the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship GT Le Mans (GTLM) class. That doesn’t mean it has lacked purpose or meaning for the competitors.
In the penultimate race before the class goes away, Nick Tandy and Tommy Milner teamed Saturday to win the Michelin GT Challenge At VIRginia International Raceway.
After Tandy recovered from contact with Kevin Estre, he finished the victorious run by the No. 4 Corvette Racing Chevrolet Corvette C8.R. Tandy crossed the stripe 17.852 seconds ahead of the team’s No. 3 sister car co-driven by Jordan Taylor and Antonio Garcia.
Tandy and Milner moved to within 127 points of Taylor and Garcia with only the season finale — the Motul Petit Le Mans on Nov. 13 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta — remaining.
“This whole year as a team has been really, really good,” Milner said. “We had a really good car at Daytona and Sebring, but things didn’t go our way. It was frustrating for us and frustrating for our crew guys. Everybody buckled down and focused on getting every last detail just right, so we get these wins. I’m a firm believer in making your own luck.”
Lately, they have made their own luck and more. The win was the third consecutive for the No. 4 Corvette, which had fallen behind the No. 3 Corvette early in the season, and it came despite contact that could have cost the No. 4 car dearly.
“It was an interesting one,” Tandy said. “It’s always great to win a race when you really shouldn’t. It was fun out there.”
Corvette Racing has yet to reveal its plans for 2022, but the battle for the soon-to-be defunct class still carries weight for the team.
On Friday, Milner broke Taylor’s five-race pole-winning streak by qualifying the No. 4 car just 0.003 seconds ahead of Taylor in the No. 3 car around the 17-turn, 3.27-mile VIR course. On Saturday, the two cars traded the lead before Tandy was able to pull away from Garcia in the final minutes of the 2-hour 40-minute race.
After the mid-race incident, Estre and Cooper MacNeil finished third, 38.655 seconds off the pace, in the No. 79 WeatherTech Racing Porsche RSR-19.
“It shows a way to win a race when you don’t have the fastest car,” Tandy said. “Honestly, the Porsche should have won the race. But honestly, when you kind of lose your brain and start driving stupid, stuff happens. Luckily with our Corvettes, we kept them on the track and didn’t do too much damage to them.”
The victory was the fifth by the No. 4 Corvette at VIR and third each at the track for Tandy and Milner. Milner now has 20 career IMSA victories, Tandy 18.
As the dust settled, Milner praised Tandy for hanging on through the contact.
“He made it happen today for sure,” Milner said. “Porsche definitely had pace on us for sure, but … he got a little bit, but he gave it right back. What an awesome race.”
Michelin GT Challenge At VIR: Unofficial Results
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