Indianapolis, Ind. - The BimmerWorld Racing team of James Clay, Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull won the GT4 Indianapolis 8 Hour race late Sunday afternoon at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The ST Racing Team of Nick Wittmer, Jon Miller and Samantha Tan finished second, while GMG Racing's Robin Liddell, Andrew Davis, and Jason Bell completed the podium in third.
Mother Nature tested the abilities of the teams and drivers as the eight-hour endurance race started under cool and wet 50 degree Fahrenheit weather conditions. Rain started to fall as the 22-car combined World Challenge America and Indianapolis 8 Hour field completed their formation laps and with the starter waiving the American Flag to start the contest at 10am Eastern, windshield wipers were in full use.
Andy Lee, in the #8 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT4, led the 11-car GT4 field to green and into the lead. With threatening skies, and a number of teams gambling and starting on a dry race setup, the first three hours of the race saw a dizzying flurry of action both on track and on pit road as teams changed and adapted their race strategies to the evolving weather conditions, resulting in a numerous lead changes. Joe Dalton, in the #33 Notlad Racing by RS1 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 led over Lee at the one-hour mark of the contest, with Parker Chase in the #25 CCR Team TFB BMW M4 GT4 pursuing in third.
At the two-hour mark, Wittmer in the #438 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4 led over Dalton and Lee, while Lidell, in the #2 GMG Racing Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 CS M held the lead at the three-hour mark over Clay in the #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4, and James Sofronas in the #8 machine. Patrick Gallagher now behind the wheel of the #33 machine, led over Hull now in the #82 machine, and Phil Bloom in the #26 Classic BMW BMW M4 GT4 at the four hour mark. At the five hour mark, Hull held the lead over Gallagher and Bloom.
With just over two hours left in the contest, the BimmerWorld team began to pull away from the field with Hull, in the #82 BimmerWorld BMW M4 GT4 building a lead to over one minute on Davis in the #2 car, who was hounded by Wittmer in third in the #438 machine. Clay took over for Hull and with one hour and fourty minutes remaining in the contest, continued in the lead by 48 seconds over Liddell now behind the wheel of the #2 machine. Liddell began to cut into Clay's lead, now down to 41 seconds, with Miller in the #438 machine in third. Then Miller would move into second past Liddell and the driver of the #438 machine began to cut into the lead shaving it down to 33 seconds with just over an hour left in the race.
With the contest entering the final hour, the sun finally peaked through the clouds, and Miller continued to cut into Clay's lead, closing the gap to 32 seconds. Miller would then come in for the final pit stop of the race changing over to Wittmer, Liddell would move back into second. Clay would enter the pits last to change over to Auberlen with under 50 minutes remaining. Liddell and Wittmer then began a battle for second. Wittmer would then find a way by Liddell with under 45 minutes left. The lead was down to 22-seconds with Auberlen heading the field. From there, Auberlen leveraged the race lead cushion his co-drivers had built, hit his marks and was never ultimately challenged, crossing the line at the checkered 6.5 seconds over Wittmer. Wittmer crossed ahead of Liddell by 2.9 seconds.
"Once Bill got into the car for the last stint it was probably the most nerve racking half hour of my life so far," said Hull. "I was just pacing back and forth hoping everything would be ok and leave it to Bill he brought it home perfect. I'm so happy."
"These guys did exactly what we said, keep it clean and give me at least a five minute lead," said a joking Auberlen after the race. "They did such a great job and it was just a cruise home at the end."
"It's great to be back here," said Clay. "We've been here before but for me this is the most meaningful. To drive with these guys, it was just fantastic. What a day and what a race."
Results are provisional until posted final. Pirelli GT4 competitors now look ahead to the 2021 campaign, set to open March 7-9 at Sonoma Raceway in California. Catch up on all series news at gt4-america.com
PROVISIONAL RESULTS - PDF Link