Michael Lewis Comes from Last to 2nd Saturday at VIR With Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai i30 N TCR car
Mark Wilkins retires from Round 3 TCR race after running 2nd Saturday
ALTON, Va. – Young Michael Lewis put in a spectacular charge Saturday at Virginia International Raceway in his No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR car with a second place in the Round 3 40-minute Pirelli World Challenge TCR race.
The 26-year-old from Laguna Beach, Calif., was forced to start last in the 14-car TCR field Saturday due to a qualifying issue in the 20-minute session. But the personable sports car star was the show on Saturday afternoon with a sensational drive through the field as well as setting the fast race lap. That quick lap gives Lewis the pole position for Sunday’s Round 4 TCR event set for 10:20 a.m. EDT.
Mark Wilkins, also a COTA race winner like Lewis, drove to second for the majority of the 40-minute event in his No. 99 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR before experiencing a mechanical issue with just four laps remaining. The Canadian driver had to settle for a 13th place in the TCR division Saturday.
“Congratulations to Ryan Eversley who won Saturday TCR event as he drove a great race,” said Lewis, the Cal State Fullerton college student. “Hats off to my teammate Mark Wilkins who drove a tremendous race and challenged Ryan for the lead. We got caught out in the qualifying session and we had a very good car for the race. I was patient in the race and worked my way through the field. I didn’t want to force anything and make a mistake. It’s awesome to be on the podium (first, second and second) in my first three TCR races. I had to manage the tires today and try to get close to Ryan and Mark. I feel badly for Mark because he was racing for the lead and had a problem. But we have both cars ready to go in Sunday’s race.”
Lewis posted the quickest race lap of one minute, 55.861 seconds for an average speed of 101.60 miles per hour and will start from the pole, while Wilkins will take the No. 2 starting slot next to Lewis after a 1:55.975 — 100.49 m.p.h. lap.
“I am having a lot of fun driving the TCR car here at VIR,” said Lewis. “This track is so great for a driver with the high speed and various corners. The Hyundai i30 N TCR car seems to love the esses and many of the various corners here. You are full throttle through the esses with the Hyundai i30 N and that is so awesome to do as a driver.”
Lewis and Wilkins had an excellent experience with the crowd and many Hyundai associates on hand this weekend at VIR.
“There were a lot of Hyundai people here today and they are excited about this TCR program,” said Lewis. “To be honest, the crowd was so nice and really into our Hyundai cars, and Mark and I were able to meet a lot of people today. This new Hyundai i30 N program has many people interested and excited for our racing. It’s a great atmosphere. There is a lot of enthusiasm.”