JDC-Miller MotorSports wrapped up its first Porsche 963 GTP season with a solid 5th place finish at Motul Petit Le Mans. The team was set up for a late race charge, but late cautions foiled the plan as the race finished under yellow.
“The drivers and team executed the race flawlessly.” said Managing Partner John Church. “To get a top 5 finish in the race with no damage after 10 hours of Motul Petit Le Mans traffic is a strong testament to everyone involved. Our regular season drivers Tijmen van der Helm and Mike Rockenfeller helped get Jenson Button up to speed very quickly in the complicated Porsche 963 and the very busy Road Atlanta course. The Porsche again ran flawlessly over the 397 laps completed.”
Fan response to the yellow JDC-Miller MotorSports Porsche 963 GTP was phenomenal. The autograph lines at Motul Petit Le Mans were some of the longest in IMSA history. Our drivers enjoyed their time with the fans and the fans with them.
JDC-Miller MotorSports has committed to the full 2024 season in the IMSA WeatherTech Championship GTP class. The team will announce its driver line-up in the next couple of weeks.
Jenson Button’s IMSA Debut and Two Challenge Series Championship Runs Highlight the Team’s Michelin Raceway Weekend
October 10, 2023
By Tony DiZinno for IMSA.com
Photo Credit: LAT Images
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Few teams run as varied a program within IMSA as Minnesota-based JDC-Miller MotorSports. Heading to Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta, the team’s three-series, three-class, four-car effort looks to steal headlines, thunder and championships from their rivals.
In Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, the capper to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship season, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button will make his IMSA and track debut aboard the team’s No. 5 Porsche 963 entry in the Grand Touring Prototype (GTP) class. It provides Button a chance to reunite with his NASCAR Garage 56 and 24 Hours of Le Mans teammate, Mike Rockenfeller, and emerging talent Tijmen van der Helm.
The team will also run a Le Mans Prototype 3 (LMP3) chassis with drivers Rasmus Lindh, Dan Goldburg and Till Bechtolsheimer for the last race of that class within WeatherTech Championship competition. Its No. 85 Duqueine D08 has run with multiple drivers in four LMP3 races this year and has a best finish of third at the Mobil 1 Twelve Hours of Sebring with a driver lineup that included Goldburg and Bechtolsheimer.
Motul Petit Le Mans will follow three additional races earlier in the weekend where the team seeks championships in a pair of IMSA challenge series.
Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports with Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor in the No. 17 Audi RS3 LMS TCR will attempt to wrest the Michelin Pilot Challenge Touring Car (TCR) class championship away from Harry Gottsacker and Robert Wickens, who have a 20-point lead in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
Similarly, Goldburg looks to secure the inaugural VP Racing SportsCar Challenge LMP3 title in the No. 73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08.
Pulling double duty this weekend for JDC-Miller by driving an LMP3 in both the WeatherTech Championship and the VP Racing Challenge, Goldburg has a pair of 45-minute races in the latter to erase a 90-point gap to Bijoy Garg and the No. 3 Jr III Racing Ligier JS P320.
Button Eagerly Anticipating GTP Debut
The JDC-Miller Porsche 963 tested at Michelin Raceway on Sept. 19, which allowed Button to learn both the car and the 2.54-mile, 12-turn track. After a 31-hour travel day from Singapore to Braselton, Georgia, Button was awed by the facility.
“How cool is this place?!?” Button remarked in a video before he started his track walk.
The smile continued once he’d completed the test day.
“Today went really well,” he said. “I got some good laps in the car. This track is nuts! It’s so fast, so fast flowing, with loads of blind crests. And I’m learning the track with a new car.
“It took a little while, but I felt really good at the end and good in the car. Yeah, I’m confident, so bring on Petit Le Mans!”
The JDC-Miller Porsche finished eighth at the TireRack.com Battle on the Bricks at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, ending a run of three straight top-five finishes.
Team principal John Church isn’t ready to announce 2024 program plans but hinted “things are coming together well” and announcements should follow the season finale.
Taylor, Miller Headline JDC’s Challenge Series Title Attack
JDC has three IMSA titles on its resume, with three consecutive championships in Prototype Lites – the VP Racing Challenge’s previous series iteration – from 2014 to 2016 (Misha Goikhberg, Kenton Koch and Clark Toppe won those titles, respectively). Winning both the Michelin Pilot Challenge and VP Racing Challenge titles in the same year would mark quite a feat; winning either would add to the team’s extensive resume.
Taylor and Miller’s new second-generation Audi features a sequential gearbox among other technical enhancements. After working through some teething issues the first third of the season, Taylor and Miller hit their stride. They’ve won the last two races –VIRginia International Raceway and Indianapolis Motor Speedway – and finished first or second in five of the last six races.
“The setup on this car is quite a bit different,” Taylor explained. “It’s a bit like a GT3 car with shims and how we adjust things. Now, I feel like we have a decent grip on it.”
As a single-car team, Taylor doesn’t underestimate what it would mean to win the title.
“I started in this class in 2018, and it was a lot more grassroots-type teams,” Taylor said. “Unless you put in huge money to compete, it’s quite hard, so I commend the smaller teams.
“You need a good driver lineup too, because it’s stout to go against (Herta drivers) Wickens, Gottsacker, (Mark) Wilkins and (Mason) Filippi.”
JDC-entered cars will run in Saturday’s Motul Petit Le Mans, which begins at 11:40 a.m. ET on Peacock in the U.S. (USA Network joins with live coverage at 6:30 p.m.), with the Michelin Pilot Challenge Fox Factory 120 at 12:25 p.m. Friday and the VP Racing Challenge races at 4:40 p.m. Thursday and 9:25 a.m. Friday. All three of those races will air live on Peacock.
Late-Race Pass from Taylor in No. 17 Audi at Indy Creates Hotly Contested Championship Battle Heading to Season Finale
September 16, 2023
By Jeff Olson for IMSA.com
A wild pass in the dark during the final minutes left one team happy and another angry as the Touring Car (TCR) class championship intensified in Saturday’s penultimate round of the 2023 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.
Mikey Taylor passed Robert Wickens heading into Turn 7 with two minutes left, giving Taylor and polesitter Chris Miller their second consecutive victory and third of the season in their No. 17 Unitronic/JDC Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
“I knew if I had a big enough run, I’d be at least side-by-side,” Taylor said of his approach on the pass. “But he actually braked earlier than I expected, and I got a nice run around the outside. I don’t think he was necessarily expecting me to go there. It’s not a normal place to pass.”
The contact surrounding the pass didn’t go over well with Wickens, who, with co-driver Harry Gottsacker, managed to help maintain the TCR championship lead for the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR.
“I don’t want to be the poor loser, but I’ve never raced the 17 yet this year where there hasn’t been contact,” Wickens said. “I can race everyone else without any contact. It’s just the way he is. If that’s how he wants to play, that’s how we’re going to play.”
Wickens and Gottsacker will unofficially take a 20-point lead over Taylor and Miller into the season-ending race next month at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.
“We have to perform, every race, to catch back the deficit we had at the beginning of the season,” Taylor said. “We’re taking it to Atlanta now. I think the ball is in our court. If we win, it doesn’t matter what they do.”
On a restart with 11 minutes left, Taylor passed Wickens, who quickly regained the lead when Taylor tangled with the No. 79 NV Autosport Ford Mustang GT4 driven by Drew Neubauer in Turn 14.
Minutes later, Taylor pulled his Audi alongside Wickens’ Hyundai, and the final tussle for the victory commenced. When asked if there was contact in the dark, Taylor replied, “Oh, for sure.”
“It was just good racing,” he continued. “That’s how we’ve all raced all season. I have a lot of respect for them. … If I finished second at Indianapolis, I wouldn’t be happy either.”
The two shook hands during the post-race celebration, but Wickens expressed his frustration with the late move and the previous pass on the restart.
“He hit me to get by, and then he hit a GS (Neubauer),” Wickens said. “I get back in front of him, and then their car is so fast that they just catch back up. I’m blocking for my life, and eventually all he’s going to do is just hit me out of the way. That’s what he does.”
Taylor’s winning margin at the line was 1.138 seconds. The No. 98 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR co-driven by Mark Wilkins and Mason Filippi finished third.
The Fox Factory 120, the season finale for the Michelin Pilot Challenge, will be held Oct. 13 at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta. Peacock will provide live streaming coverage in the U.S.
Mikey Taylor and Chris Miller got the victory in the Touring Car (TCR) class Saturday at VIR, but Robert Wickens and Harry Gottsacker maintained their grip on the championship.
Taylor held on through a one-lap shootout to claim the class victory in the No. 17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS TCR he co-drives with Miller. Wickens held on to second in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR he shares with Gottsacker.
While trying to chase down the leader late in the race, Tim Lewis went off course in the esses from second place, telling his crew over the radio that something broke on the No. 5 KMW Motorsports with TMR Engineering Alfa Romeo Giulietta Veloce TCR. That resulted in a full-course caution with eight minutes remaining in the two-hour race, letting the field gather closer to Taylor.
The ensuing restart was a one-lap run to the finish over the 17-turn, 3.27-mile circuit. Taylor brought it home 6.974 seconds ahead of Wilkins, who finished 0.550 seconds ahead of BHA stablemate Mason Filippi in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai he co-drives with Mark Wilkins.
Before the late caution, Taylor was leading comfortably but was razor thin on fuel. When asked if he thought he could win had the yellow not come out, Taylor said he wasn’t quite sure.
“I think it would’ve been fine,” he said. “But at the same time, because of the yellow, these guys were pulled back up to us. It could’ve gone either way, really. We were just trying to maximize the package the car has. We don’t have enough fuel, really, to do a full stint. We kind of got lucky today.”
While Taylor and Miller closed on Wickens and Gottsacker in the championship standings, the No. 33 duo remains 50 points ahead with only two races – at Indianapolis Motor Speedway and Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta – remaining on the 2023 schedule. Filippi, Wilkins and the No. 98 BHA Hyundai are 110 points from the leaders.
“We’re going to have to beat them in the next two races to beat them in the championship,” Miller said. “But we have a good car and the best team, so we’re looking forward to the rest of the season.”
The victory for the No. 17 did, however, push Audi into the TCR manufacturer points lead by just 10 over Hyundai, which is seeking its fourth straight crown.
The next Michelin Pilot Challenge race is four hours in length, on Saturday, Sept. 16 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. The telecast of Saturday’s VIR race airs at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 3 on CNBC.
BOWMANVILLE, Ontario – Down 20 seconds halfway through, Mikey Taylor wasn’t sure he could claw back and win the Touring Car (TCR) portion of Saturday’s race. But cagey strategy coupled with a bump-and-run pass for the lead on the penultimate lap took Taylor and co-driver Chris Miller to victory in the No. 17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS TCR.
Miller started from pole in the No. 17 and led the bulk of his stint, with Harry Gottsacker in the No. 33 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N TCR hot on his heels the entire time. Gottsacker pitted from second position with an hour and 7 minutes to go, turning the No. 33 Hyundai over to Robert Wickens – the latter seeking a second straight win at his home track.
Miller stopped five minutes later but Taylor was staring at a 20-second deficit when he returned to the track in the No. 17 Audi. From there, the South African put on a calculated comeback as Wickens tried to conserve fuel in a gambit to make it to the finish.
“The team was just telling me what numbers to hit and what to do, and we were closing down on those guys,” Taylor said. “Save fuel, go fast, it’s a bit of a balance. It was just a management game the whole race.”
The leaders ran nose-to-tail late until Taylor dove inside Wickens into Moss Corner with under two minutes to go. The cars made contact, forcing Wickens wide and allowing Taylor to take the lead. Sensing damage to his Hyundai, Wickens made another pit stop for a splash of fuel and a quick check of the car. He returned nearly a lap down but still came home second, ahead of the sister No. 98 Hyundai shared by Mark Wilkins and Mason Filippi.
“There was a little bit of contact but we were both saving fuel and he was saving a little bit more than me,” Taylor explained. “I went down the inside and he turned in and I was there. That’s racing.”
Wickens said his car was challenging to drive on top of the need to conserve fuel.
“That was the only pace I had and I knew he was catching me,” he said. “My only plan was hopefully to have enough tire left to make a run at the end. Unfortunately, he hit me in (Turn) 5B to take the lead and then we had to pit the next lap. It is what it is.”
The win was the first for Miller and Taylor since Lime Rock Park last season and the first in the updated version of the Audi RS3 LMS.
“We’re learning more about this new Audi every race,” Miller said, “and it’s been a great job by the team to continue to develop it, get better with our pit stops. I think we’re in great shape for the rest of the season now.”
Despite losing out on the victory, Wickens and Gottsacker unofficially took sole possession of the TCR class lead after five races by 20 points over Wilkins and Filippi and 30 up on Miller and Taylor.
“Unfortunately, it just didn’t work out for us today, but it’s coming,” Gottsacker said. “It’s good points for us but we want that win pretty badly.”
The Lime Rock Park 100, a TCR-only race at the Connecticut road course, is next on the schedule on Saturday, July 22.