Multimatic Motorsports was able to get in the pits just before the 80 minute mark Friday (Oct. 11) to swap series debutante Sebastian Priaulx out of the seat and put in Austin Cindric. A couple of seconds later, a full-course caution flew for the stopped Honda Civic Type-R TCR of Mark Pombo. Cindric was able to get past Automatic Racing’s Ben Waddell shortly after the restart and pulled away to take victory in the FOX Factory 120.
As you can see above, there was plenty of joy to go around after the race. Priaulx is quite a bit smaller than Cindric, so Cindric was able to carry him around like Priaulx was his little brother. Working with Priaulx was very satisfying for Cindric
“The highlight of the weekend was being able to work with Sebastian,” Cindric said during the post-race press conference. “The Multimatic guys are very high on him coming from British GT. I’ve had a lot of fun when Ford Performance brings over the NASCAR Xfinity [Series] guys to do these races in the GT4 cars. Multimatic kickstarted my career and it took off in a lot of directions. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them.”
Automatic Racing’s Akhil Rabindra led the field to green and easily led the race early on. Things weren’t all that smooth for other drivers, though. CarBahn Motorsports clinched the championship just by starting the race, but Jeff Westphal ran into immediate trouble on the first lap. He was forced to pit with wheel damage that put them right out of the hunt. Westphal and Tyler McQuarrie would continue, but ended up finishing 11 laps down in 30th overall (22nd in Grand Sport).
Early on, the race had trouble getting truly underway. The first yellow flew 14 minutes in when Tyler Stone spun the Atlanta Speedwerks No. 94 Honda into the gravel at the chicane. Later on, JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Michael Johnson spun and hit the wall just past the start-finish line after contact from the No. 3 Alfa Romeo of Alexandre Papadopoulos. Johnson was ok, but since he is a paraplegic who races with hand controls, he needed some assistance to exit his bent Audi.
The second yellow brought the field into the pits for their first stop, but only 36 minutes into the race. That is before the minimum drive-time was satisfied. A couple of teams, like Multimatic Motorsports’ No. 22 with Cole Custer at the wheel, stayed out long enough to reach the 40-minute mark under yellow before pitting.
TeamTGM’s Owen Trinkler beat Rabindra out of the pits to take the overall lead for the restart. Just afterwards, Winward Racing/HTP Motorsports’ Russell Ward crashed hard entering the chicane. Ward was hit by BimmerWorld Racing’s James Clay, went head on into the concrete wall, spun across the track and bounced through the gravel in such a way that he nearly rolled his Mercedes-AMG GT4. Ward walked away from the crash, but he was done for the day. The No. 82 BMW was given a drive-through penalty for causing the crash and finished 13th overall.
Trinkler made his final stop with 48 minutes to go to take tires, fuel and put Hugh Plumb in the car. Trinkler described this strategy after the race as somewhat conservative, but it meant that TeamTGM didn’t have to worry about drive-time issues. Rabindra retook the lead after Trinkler stopped and held it until the final caution.
The caution brought much of the field into the pits for their final stops, but it came a little too late for some teams. Rabindra pitted and made way for Tom Long. The stop dropped the No. 09 Aston Martin all the way back to 14th. With limited time remaining, Long was a man possessed. He was the fastest man on track over the final green-flag run of the race. Four laps after the restart, he’d moved from 14th to fourth. Three laps later, he was second and faster than Cindric. Ultimately, traffic was the only thing that prevented Long from outright catching Cindric.
Rabindra and Long finished second on the road, 3.208 seconds behind. However, Rabindra had driven for more than the maximum of 80 minutes. As a result, they were moved to the rear of the class.
Motorsports In Action’s Corey Fergus and Jesse Lazare inherited second as a result. TeamTGM’s Plumb and Trinkler were third, followed by Moorespeed’s Rob Ferriol and Spencer Pumpelly. Andrew Wojeczsko Autosport’s Orey Fidani and Chris Green were fifth in their McLaren, the best run for the No. 13 team all season.
Compass Racing’s Paul Holton and Kuno Wittmer finished sixth in their McLaren, but were hampered by a late off-course excursion through the gravel in the chicane. TeamTGM’s Guy Cosmo and Ted Giovanis were seventh, followed by Murillo Racing’s Eric Foss and Jeff Mosing. Custer and Chase Briscoe were ninth, while Brent Mosing and Tim Probert were 10th in the second Murillo Racing Mercedes.
TCR saw Britt Casey Jr. lead early from the pole. However, Michael Lewis was able to get a better restart after the Stone incident and took over the class lead. Lewis held onto the lead until the Johnson crash. During that caution, most of the class made their first stop of the race. Then, the 40-minute mark was reached and a number of drivers stopped again to switch drivers.
Fast MD Racing’s Nick Galante, who did not set a time in qualifying Thursday and started from the rear, chose to stay out and briefly took the lead. After Ward crashed, Galante pitted, which gave the lead to LA Honda World Racing’s Colin Mullan. Lewis was able to run down Mullan and took the class lead shortly before making his final stop and handing off to Mark Wilkins.
JDC-Miller MotorSports’ Mikey Taylor inherited the lead when Lewis pitted and held it until the last yellow. He pitted and handed the car back to Casey. That move put the No. 21 Hyundai of Mason Filippi in the lead. Wilkins was able to run down his teammate and take the lead for good with 20 minutes to go.
Casey was close behind Wilkins at the time and spent the final 20 minutes stalking Wilkins. It was a solid drive with no mistakes that allowed Lewis and Wilkins to not only win the TCR class, but win the TCR championship as well.
Lewis and Wilkins, who finished 12th overall, finished 1.313 seconds ahead of Casey and Taylor. Galante and James Vance were third and overjoyed with the result. Filippi and Harry Gottsacker were fourth, while Atlanta Speedwerks’ Brian Henderson and Todd Lamb were fifth.