A drizzly and dreary week gives way to a dry race day.
If you could sum up our week in Daytona and the start of our 2022 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season in one word, that word would be (relatively) smooth. After a strong weekend of testing during The Roar, the team moved into a trio of soggy practice sessions for the 4-hour BMW M Endurance Challenge. Knowing they could reference data gathered during The Roar, drivers William Tally and Tristan Herbert both logged conservative laps in the wet sessions.
For qualifying, the team opted to put 2022 Daytona race winner Will Tally in the car to set a fast lap. Track conditions were mixed during the 15-minute qualifying session, with most teams, including our Audi, opting for rain tires on the damp track. Ultimately, those that gambled with slicks were rewarded as the track quickly dried, leaving Will and the team with a 13th-place starting position for Friday’s race.
As race day arrived, so did dry track conditions (after a quick morning drizzle…we are talking about Florida, after all). Knowing that it would be a long race, our plan to start the race was to be consistent and conservative. Attrition is always a factor with the longer Michelin Pilot Challenge events, and if you can avoid mishaps, you are usually rewarded with a good result.
During Will’s time in the car (a roughly two-and-a-half-hour stint to start the race), we were able to race to the lead with the right strategy during the pit cycle, leading a handful of laps while clocking lap times consistent with the TCR class leaders.
As Tristan jumped into the car with 90 minutes left in the race, the TCR class had thinned as several cars had retired or fallen out of contention. With fresh rubber and a full fuel load, Tristan got to climbing up the TCR leaderboard. He had settled into a position just outside the top 5 when a full-course caution paused the action as cleanup commenced. Team principal and strategist, John Martin, made the call for fuel only during what would be our final pit stop of the race. This ended up as the right strategy, as it gave Tristan the track position needed to fight for a podium position in the TCR class. A late-race pass moved Tristan out of a podium position, but he was able to cross the line in 4th position as the highest-finishing Audi in the class.
A 4th-place result in the most grueling race of our season is a massive confidence booster for our young team. We will take the lessons learned and experience gained from Daytona into our next event- the Alan Jay Automotive Network 120 at Sebring International Raceway in Sebring, Florida.
We want to give a massive thank you to our drivers, Tristan Herbert, and Will Tally, our crew for stepping up during our pit stops, and our awesome sponsors listed below. Without them, our motorsports program would not exist.
To view our photo coverage from the Daytona Rolex weekend, click or tap here.