DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dillon Machavern and Spencer Pumpelly topped all challengers in Friday’s season-opening four-hour IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Daytona Int’l Speedway, driving the RS1 Porsche to victory in the Grand Sport class during the BMW Endurance Challenge.
With defending Grand Sport champion Machavern sharing the wheel 2016 Street Tuner champion Pumpelly, the duo led 45 laps and crossed the finish line 7.101 seconds ahead of BimmerWorld Racing’s No. 82 BMW M4 driven James Clay and Tyler Cooke.
The win comes three years after RS1 won its first race of IMSA competition, with Pumpelly driving with Luis Rodriguez Jr. at Daytona in the ST class in 2015.
“It’s huge for two reasons,” said Pumpelly. “One is that, obviously, the guys were working really hard in the offseason and the team has a lot of momentum now, coming off of last year’s championship with Dillon (Machavern) and Dylan (Murcott) and now moving forward. It’s also big because a lot of these teams have new cars, and I don’t think we’re going to have the same advantage as those guys get up to speed. We need to get these points while we can, because come Sebring, come Mid-Ohio, it’s going to be much, much more of a fight when those other cars get some miles and some tuning under them.”
“The guys worked so hard in the offseason as well as last year to really develop the Cayman GT4 platform,” added Machavern. “We kind of had a leg up. We unloaded really well, and all the other teams were just getting used to their cars. They don’t have that many miles on them. That was a huge advantage for the RS1 team. Just thinking back to this time last year, we’ve come so far since then in just developing the car and knowing what it does and doesn’t like.”
In a hard-fought battle during the closing laps, Cooke stole the runner-up finish from series veteran Scott Maxwell, who co-drove with NASCAR young guns Cole Custer and Ty Majeski in the No. 15 Multimatic Motorsports Ford Mustang. Maxwell held on for the third-place finish.
The other NASCAR duo of Austin Cindric and Chase Briscoe was less fortunate Friday afternoon, finishing 21st after being caught up in an early incident that resulted in damage, which ultimately caused the car not to finish.
Steven Phillips, driver of the No. 99 Aston Martin was transported to Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center after being involved in the same incident. He underwent a CT scan of his head and neck, which came back negative, and was expected to be released Friday evening.
The TCR class made its race debut in the BMW Endurance Challenge, with Compass Racing’s Tom Long and Britt Casey Jr. in the No. 77 Audi RS3 LMS claiming victory in the class.
A late addition to the race entry list, Long and Casey battled all afternoon with teammates Kuno Wittmer and Rodrigo Sales in the No. 74 Audi RS3 LMS, who took second to complete the 1-2 finish for Compass Racing after starting from the pole position.
“I’m impressed with how well the chassis and the manufacturer does with this car,” said Long. “It’s just incredible. Coming to a front-wheel-drive car, it’s not really my forte but I guess I’m just very thankful that it all is being put forth and having the opportunity that I’ve got here.
“I think this starts us off for the championship, which is what our goal is. I couldn’t be more proud of how this came together in a short period of time and how prepared we became in that short period and I think that shows here.”
Rounding out the TCR podium was the No. 53 Murillo Racing team of Matt Fassnacht and Justin Piscitell, also in an Audi.
In the Street Tuner class, Devin Jones and Nick Galante dominated the BMW Endurance Challenge from the pole to bring home BimmerWorld Racing’s first Continental Tire Challenge victory since 2013 in the No. 81 BMW 328i.
The win is also a series first for Jones while being the fifth for 2016 ST champion Nick Galante.
“It’s awesome,” said Jones. “I couldn’t imagine a better place to win than Daytona. I grew up watching races here. My dad and I came down here when I was a kid to Daytona Kart Week. That was kind of my start in racing, and to see how far I’ve come since then, and my family and so many people involved have put in a lot of hard work in my career. It’s great to see it really pay off here today. To win at Daytona is just unbelievable.”
The No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman, which Jones piloted the last two years, finished second with Max Faulkner and Jason Rabe. In third was another Cayman, that of the No. 55 Murillo Racing trio of Justin Piscitell, Brent Mosing and Tim Probert.
CREDIT: IMSA Communications