Mark Wilkins, Michael Lewis Record 2nd & 3rd Friday at PIR; BHA Hyundai Pair Set for PWC TCR Doubleheader
Both Hyundai drivers look for another PWC TCR Series victory in Saturday/Sunday Sprint Races
PORTLAND, Ore. – In their first Portland International Raceway appearance in the Pirelli World Challenge road racing series, Mark Wilkins and Michael Lewis drove the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb/Agajanian Hyundai i30 N TCR race cars to second and third Friday in qualifying for Saturday’s 40-minute Pirelli World Challenge TCR class event.
Wilkins, the popular Canadian racer who has won two 2018 TCR races, captured the front row starting position for the Round 7 TCR event with his No. 99 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR hatchback sedan with a time of one minute, 18.636 seconds and an average speed of 90.18 miles per hour. Wilkins currently holds down the second spot in the TCR driver point standings, while Hyundai is the point leader in the TCR Manufacturers’ points.
Lewis, who began his sports car racing career at PIR back in 2009, recorded a best lap of 1:18.736 at 90.07 m.p.h. in his No. 98 BHA Hyundai i30 N TCR machine. The Laguna Beach, Calif., college student also has two TCR feature wins to his credit this year and ranks third in the TCR Drivers’ standings.
Only veteran Ryan Eversley’s TCR car bettered Wilkins and Lewis in Friday’s qualifying action.
“Ryan set the bar very high earlier in the qualifying session and Michael and I really took our shots at winning the pole today,” said Wilkins. “We worked hard on the Hyundai cars this morning as we knew Ryan and the Honda would be quick. The Hyundai machine has been so strong in the first half of the year and we knew several teams would improve and aim at us. We took our qualifying strategy a little differently today. Normally, I like to go out quickly set a good lap. But we worked on the car a little and then set our quick lap late in the session. I didn’t get discouraged with the early parts of my runs. Then the car felt good, but I didn’t have enough for Ryan. We’ll look at the qualifying information and set the car for the 40-minute sprint. I like our car for the race, and the race will be a hot one in the afternoon. So, we are ready to go.”
Lewis comes to Portland after a TCR victory at Lime Rock Park most recently and could be the driver to upset the front row of Eversley and Wilkins.
“I went out and laid down the best lap I could in qualifying,” said Lewis. “I think I could have cleaned up the lap a little better, but it felt strong. Obviously, I’d like to be on the front row like Ryan and Mark. I was second for most of the session, but Mark just nipped me at the end. Mark and I were pushing each other and I’m sure that will happen in the race too. Our team prepares great cars for us. P1 was just a little outside our times, but I think our race car settings are good for this track. The PIR track is very busy for a driver, similar to a karting track.”
The Pirelli World Challenge TCR race on Saturday at Portland International Raceway is set for 2:25 p.m. Pacific, with Sunday’s 40-minute race starting at 10:40 a.m. Pacific. Saturday’s TCR race will feature a rolling start, while a standing start will highlight the Sunday contest.
Both of the Pirelli World Challenge TCR races can be viewed live on www.world-challenge.com.