Roy Block and Tim Lewis Jr claimed their first victory in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge at road America, as the Alfa Romeo duo saw off a challenge from Bryan Herta Autosport’s Parker Chase and Ryan Norman.
Having started from fourth on the grid, the second-best qualifying effort of the year, Block actually dropped to seventh at the start after a poor launch in the wet conditions.
Block was running in eighth just before the second full-course yellow period of the race, required due to an incident in the GT class, when he pitted earlier than his rivals.
That lifted the Alfa duo into the lead, with Block leading the restart. From there, Lewis led the following 12 laps from the Bryan Herta Autosports Hyundai Elantra of Parker Chase, until he passed Lewis for the lead at the Carousel.
Chase, who shares his car with Ryan Norman, led for the next five laps and looked set to claim victory, until he went off the circuit at turn 2 with just 17 minutes left to run.
That gifted the lead back to Lewis, who held on to the lead in tricky conditions to claim the first victory for an Alfa Romeo in the series.
“I got out of the car and the first person I saw was Brian Carroll, our chief mechanic,” said Lewis. “He was excited.
“Then I saw Louis Milone, the team owner, running down pit lane with his hands up and tears in his eyes. He was just elated.
“It was a really good feeling to bring that win home for the team. Those guys have worked day in and day out, year after year, to try to make this happen.”
The Hyundai Veloster of Rory van der Steur and Denis Dupont claimed second, the duos first podium finish of the season, ahead of the recovering Chase and Norman in third, with Chase having actually dropped to fourth after his earlier off.
No other driver finished on the lead lap, with the fourth-placed Bryan Herta Hyundai of Harry Gottsacker and Mark Wilkins being a lap down in the increasingly worsening conditions.
Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor were the best-placed Audi pairing in fifth, ahead of the Road Shagger Racing RS3 of Gavin Ernstone and Jon Morley in sixth.
Taylor Hagler and Michael Lewis, the championship leaders heading into the event, endured a difficult weekend, starting the race from the very back after failing to post a time in qualifying.
In the race, Hagler had taken on the first stint and was up to ninth in the early stages, but the duo then dropped back and could take the chequered flag no higher than 11th, although they held on to their series lead.
Victory for Block and Lewis has moved the Argentine and American pairing up to joint second overall in the drivers’ standings with 1,860 points, whilst the series continues to be led by Hagler and Michael Lewis with 2,050 points, ahead of Chase and Norman in second with 1,860 points along with Block and Lewis.
The next IMSA MPC event takes place at Laguna Seca Raceway on 10 – 11 September.