MONTEREY, Calif. – In typical IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge fashion, Saturday’s WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 wasn’t decided until the checkered flag waved.
With championship implications on the line, the final 10 minutes of the two-hour race featured the top four Grand Sport cars running within two seconds of each other. The leading No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman GT4 MR of Dillon Machavern had paced the field for a majority of the final hour of the race, yet in the mirror loomed the No. 57 Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport Mercedes-AMG GT4 of Christian Hohenadel.
In third place was the most recent GS winner from Virginia Int’l Raceway, the No. 46 Team TGM Mercedes-AMG GT4 at the hands of Hugh Plumb, and in fourth was the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang GT4 of Scott Maxwell, who co-drives with Ford development driver Ty Majeski.
However, heading to the checkered flag on the 2.238-mile circuit, the second-place Mercedes-AMG of Hohenadel began sputtering and dropped through the field as it began to run out of gas. The leading No. 28 Porsche, which had been on the same pit cycle, soon followed suit in the final turns of the final lap.
As the Porsche slowed, the No. 46 Mercedes-AMG and the No. 15 Ford – both of which had been on a later pit cycle than the leaders – soared past for a surprising 1-2 finish.
“Say no more, it was an unbelievably wild race,” said Plumb. “Running out of fuel, save fuel, conserve, don’t pass those guys, to full on, let’s go get ‘em. Awesome, awesome thank you to our guys at TGM, thanks to (Team Owner) Ted Giovanis and (co-driver) Owen Trinkler. Fantastic job, couldn’t think of a better co-driver. It’s just unbelievable. As I have said all along we have the best guys in this paddock and it shows every weekend.”
The wild ending featured two of the top three championship contenders entering the penultimate round of the 2018 season – the No. 28 of Machavern and Pumpelly sat in third, 23 points behind Plumb and Trinkler in first with the No. 60 KohR Motorsports of Nate Stacy and Kyle Marcelli in between.
While the race looked as if Machavern and Pumpelly would make significant strides to closing the championship gap with a victory, crossing the stripe seventh overall dropped the duo to 34 points behind the No. 46. Marcelli and Stacy remain in second, 31 points back.
“From a championship perspective, I feel like we are the underdogs in this deal,” said Trinkler. “We are just out doing our jobs that we are supposed to be doing and let the chips fall where they are, so we didn’t feel any pressure coming into this weekend or even at VIR. We are not changing anything with our race strategy and just letting things happen. Some days you are just really lucky and we have just been lucky here lately.”
Sliding into the third-place spot on the podium was the No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 of Tyler McQuarrie and Jeff Westphal with their best finish of the season.