Veloster N TCR’s Quick, but Race Finish Spoiled by Bizarre Circumstancesadmin
The current trend of the Hyundai Veloster N TCR cars running at the top of the speed charts continued this weekend at the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park, in Bowmanville, Ontario, just outside of Toronto. Michael Lewis and local favorite Mark Wilkins were quickest in opening practice and qualified the #98 car on the front row for the second consecutive weekend. Mason Filippi qualified the #21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR third, his best start of the year.
Known to be one of the most technical circuits in North America, “CTMP” has many dramatic elevation changes and blind apexes. Setting the race car up for this circuit can be daunting, but once again, the BHA engineers John Ward and Kyle Compton were up to the task, the Veloster’s were very competitive all weekend. Michael Lewis took the green flag in the #98 and Mason Filippi started in the #21. Both drivers had a clean first “stint” and ran comfortably in the top three throughout the first half of the race. Both cars took advantage of a perfectly timed caution period to execute their first pitstop. The BHA crew diligently serviced both cars with four tires, fuel and driver changes, but the #21 car lost time when a wheel nut jammed between the rim and the wheel hub. The jamming of the wheel nut was a strange circumstance, not something the experience crew has ever seen before.
In the second half of the two-hour race, the team’s quick pace was inconsequential when both the #98 and the #21 were struck with debilitating circumstances. A lapped TCR car held up Wilkins for several laps and then eventually hit the #98 car. As a result, the radiator was punctured and forced into retirement, “It was incredibly frustrating out there. We had another great race going and as it turned out the way the yellows fell, we would have been in contention for another victory,” said Wilkins.
Harry Gottsacker rebounded from his lengthy pitstop in the #21 with great race pace. Unfortunately, his luck didn’t improve. Gottsacker was racing through lapped traffic when he was spun off the track by at competitor at turn five. Gottsacker was able to finish the race, earning his fifth top ten finish, but he lost several laps due to the incident. “It was a strange series of incidents,” said Gottsacker. “The wheel-nut situation forced us into an unfortunate position on the racetrack in terms of track position. Traffic is always a factor at CTMP, but we had the pace to recover…that Audi spun us right off the racetrack.”
It was a frustrating day for the BHA team, but despite the early retirement, #98 car sits just six points out of the championship lead, while the #21 car is sixth, with half of the season remaining. Tune in to watch the race on NBC Sports on Tuesday, July 16th at 3pm ET. The team now turns their focus to Connecticut for round six of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, at Lime Rock Park 120 on Saturday, July 20th.
#98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Started: 2nd Finished: 12th
Michael Lewis (started): “Our race was going well, and our team executed a really great strategy. Mark was driving so well, and he was fast after we did our driver change. It looked like we would cycle to first place or at least have a good fight for first at the end of everyone’s stops. Unfortunately, we had a stone puncture our radiator and that was the end of a flawless race. Thank you so much to the team for enduring the trials of what a race weekend gives and especially after a back-to-back set of race weekends. I am so thankful to be on a team with passionate and dedicated racers. Our Hyundai Veloster N TCR will be back on the track in a week-and-a-half at Lime Rock, and I am excited to go racing there to work to earn more points.”
Mark Wilkins (finished): “The weekend showed a great deal of promise! Our cars were quick, and the Michelin’s were great, the Veloster N TCR performed well on late stint tires. A tough result to swallow for both cars. From a points perspective we are right in the mix and we have plenty of racing ahead! A massive thank you is in order to the crew. These BHA guys are the best and we’ll be ready to fight for a win at Lime Rock in a few weeks!”
#21 Hyundai Veloster N TCR Started: 3rd Finished: 10th
Mason Filippi (started): “Tough day at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park but the Bryan Herta Autosport Team is strong and is able to work through anything racing throws at us in the Hyundai Veloster N TCR. I can’t wait for Lime Rock Park in a couple weeks. Heads down and time for a 1,2 finish!”
Harry Gottsacker (finished): “It was a tough race today, and probably the most physical race I’ve had up to this point. The pace was good, and we were in position for our first podium finish but contact at turn five ended our hopes. The goal from that point was to bring the car home and collect some points.”
About Bryan Herta Autosport:
Founded in 2009, Bryan Herta Autosport has grown from a single car Indy-Lights team into a championship winning auto racing franchise. Led by IndyCar and Sports Car star Bryan Herta, Bryan Herta Autosport has won races in every discipline they’ve entered, including Indy Lights, Indy Car, Global Rally Cross, and Pirelli World Challenge. BHA rose to prominence after winning the 2011 Indianapolis 500 in what was the final race of the Centennial Era, a celebration of 100 years of racing at The Indianapolis Motor Speedway, with driver Dan Wheldon. Five years late, BHA partnered with Andretti Autosport, and defied the odds again, winning their second Indianapolis 500 with rookie driver Alexander Rossi. BHA entered the Global Rally Cross Championship in 2015 under the name Bryan Herta Rallysport, scoring multiple podiums and wins. In 2018, BHA entered the Pirelli World Challenge in partnership with Hyundai and dominated the TCR class, winning seven races with drivers #98 Michael Lewis and #99 Mark Wilkins in the Hyundai i30N TCR, securing the team and manufacturers championships in the process. For 2019, BHA continues its’ successful partnership with Andretti Autosport to field the #98 U.S. Concrete Honda w/ Curb Agajanian in the IndyCar series for driver Marco Andretti. Also, in 2019, BHA takes their championship winning Hyundai TCR team to the IMSA Pilot Challenge where they will enter the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR for Michael Lewis and Mark Wilkins and the #21 for Harry Gottsacker and Mason Filippi. Just three races into their IMSA debut, BHA won the Mid-Ohio 120 in the #98 Hyundai Veloster N TCR with Wilkins and Lewis. Bryan Herta Autosport is the U.S. sales agent and parts support representative of Hyundai TCR race cars for customer teams. For more information, visit www.BryanHertaAutosport.com.
About Hyundai Motor America:
Hyundai Motor America is focused on delivering an outstanding customer experience grounded in design leadership, engineering excellence and exceptional value in every vehicle we sell. Hyundai’s technology-rich product lineup of cars, SUVs and alternative-powered electric and fuel cell vehicles is backed by Hyundai Assurance—our promise to deliver peace of mind to our customers. Hyundai vehicles are sold and serviced through more than 830 dealerships nationwide with the majority sold in the U.S. built at U.S. manufacturing facilities, including Hyundai Motor Manufacturing Alabama. Hyundai Motor America is headquartered in Fountain Valley, California, and is a subsidiary of Hyundai Motor Company of Korea.