VIRginia International Raceway at Alton will host a number of the country’s and the world’s top road racers and teams this weekend in the track’s biggest event of the season, the Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship event.
The Michelin GT Challenge is the second and final GT-only event on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule, and will feature the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship series’ GT LeMans and GT Daytona classes and the Michelin Pilot Challenge series.
Highlighting the weekend are a two-hour-and 40-minute race for the GTLM and GTD classes on Sunday and a two-hour race on Saturday for the Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix Michelin Pilot Challenge series race. Sunday’s Michelin GT Challenge race gets the green flag at 1:35 p.m. Saturday’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix Michelin Pilot Challenge series race starts at 2:15 p.m.
Sunday’s race will be televised live on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET, with live IMSA Radio coverage throughout the weekend airing on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com. The IMSA Radio race broadcast also will be carried live on SiriusXM Radio.
Other series that will be in action at VIR during the weekend include the Porsche GT3 Cup USA, IMSA Prototype Challenge and Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.
Friday’s on-track action will center around practice and qualifying, with qualifying and racing on Saturday and racing on Sunday.
Legendary racer Lyn St. James, voted last year one of IMSA’s “50 Great Drivers” will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Michelin GT Challenge and will give the command to start engines for Sunday’s race. St. James held 31 international and national closed-circuit speed records over a 20-year period. She is also the only woman to win an IMSA GT race driving solo. She will be available for meet and greets, autograph sessions and photo opportunities throughout the day.
“We are thrilled to have such a distinguished female driver such as Lyn St. James kick off our fan-favorite Michelin GT Challenge race,” said Connie Nyholm, owner and CEO of VIR in a track press release.
“As one of the only female majority track owners, I’m passionate about celebrating the women drivers that have and continue to make waves in this male dominated sport. St. James knows firsthand how adrenaline-pumping these GT races are, and we can’t wait for her to rev up the drivers and crowd on our final day of the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship weekend.”
This weekend’s Michelin GT Challenge will feature great racing over VIR’s 3.27-mile full course. Last year’s event was a thriller as BMW team drivers Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi pulled out the win, interrupting what had been a domination of the VIR event by the factory Corvette Racing and the Ford Ganassi Racing teams.
Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook finished first and second in the GTLM class standings last season, but a pair of Porsche factory teams are at the top of the championship standings heading into this weekend’s event at VIR.
Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Prosche 911 RSR finished third in the series’ most recent event at Road America and lead Porsche teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy by14 points entering VIR.
It appears that Briscoe and Westbrook have the hot hand heading into this weekend’s event at VIR. Briscoe and Westbrook have put together a two-race winning streak with victories in the series’ two previous events at Road America in Wisconsin and at Lime Rock in Connecticut.
Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman, who finished fifth at Road America in the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3, lead the GT Daytona class standings heading into the VIR event.