Results: 2018 BMW Endurance Challenge at Daytona International Speedway
The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge series looks to be in for a tightly-contested campaign yet again this year.
Friday's BMW Endurance Challenge event at Daytona International Speedway gave an initial look at the field for this 2018 season. Talent displayed itself in each of the series' three classes—Grand Sport, Touring Car Racing, and Street Tuner—showing what we can expect from the Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge competitors throughout the rest of the calendar.
Firstly, the battle in CTSCC's top category, GS, was initiated in Turn One and essentially never let up. These cars, built to global SRO-GT4 specs, are closely matched and can run engines in six-, eight-, and ten-cylinder configurations. The field features a mix of Porsches, Mercedes, Audis, Fords, and more that are relatively equal in terms of performance and will compete prior to the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar championship as a support series.
The four-hour race was tightly contested from the green flag on with the No. 15 Multimatic Ford Mustang GT4 quickly battling with Spencer Pumpelly's No. 28 RS1 Porsche Cayman. The two teams sparked a fight that lasted the majority of the race through traffic and carnage, eventually leading Pumpelly and his teammate, Dillon Machavern, to victory. As the race continued on, the Multimatic Mustang GT4 conclusively dropped into third place and made way for Bimmerworld's No. 82 BMW M4 entry to take second.
“It’s huge for two reasons,” said Pumpelly to the media after Friday's race. “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.”
Next, in the global-spec TCR series, a field of factory-built touring cars drove for the checkered flag. Mostly made up of Audi RS3 LMS TCR entries, the category had one Volkswagen Golf GTI TCR exception, all of which run in touring car competitions worldwide. This is the inaugural race for the TCR class in CTSCC, comprising a three-category field.
Compass Racing managed a 1-2 finish in the class with its No. 77 Audi edging out the No. 74 car despite being a late entry into the event. The duo of Tom Long and Britt Casey, Jr. was admittedly impressed with both the competition and the machine, applauding each of them come race's end.
“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.”
Murillo Racing's No. 53 car then rounded out the TCR podium.
Finally, the series' ST class saw something of a surprise with Bimmerworld claiming its first victory since the 2013 season. Devin Jones and Nick Galante commandeered the contest throughout in the tidily tweaked No. 81 BMW 328i. This class, which includes lightly modified versions of street cars to meet regulations, is inherently competitive in each race. Although Jones and series-veteran Galante held the lead for most of the race, the No. 21 Bodymotion Racing Porsche Cayman was able to manage a second place finish. Completing the podium was Murillo Racing's No. 55 Porsche Cayman, foreshadowing a worthwhile 2018 season which is set to continue at Sebring.
Full results can be viewed on IMSA's official website.