JULY 8, 2023
By Mark Robinson
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.
It’s going to be another very busy weekend for the JDC-Miller MotorSports team at this weekend’s Mobil 1 12 Hours of Sebring. The team won the race in 2021.
In the WeatherTech race, the team’s LMP3 class Duqueine D08 will be driven by Till Bechtolsheimer, Tijmen van der Helm, and Dan Goldburg. Bechtolsheimer and van der Helm return after driving the car at the Rolex 24 Hours of Daytona. Goldburg currently holds the points lead in the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge series after two wins at Daytona and two podiums last weekend here at Sebring.
The team’s Audi RS3 LMS effort in the Michelin Pilot Challenge TCR class will again be driven by Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor with a Liqui Moly livery.
This year marks the 71st running of the endurance classic. The 12 hour race was first run in 1952. Sebring’s 3.74 mile 17 turn circuit is the oldest and one of the busiest racetracks in North America, hosting activities more than 300 days per year.
Two podium finishes for Dan Goldburg in his #73 JDC MotorSports Duqueine D08 keep him in the championship points lead.
In Race 1, Goldburg started on the outside pole and retained that position through to the finish. Race 2 was more exciting for the Florida driver. Again starting P2, Goldburg took the lead on the first lap and held it under pressure from Bijoy Garg and Antonio Serravalle for the first 30 minutes of the race. Garg got by in Turn 7 and Goldburg pressured him until a quick spin allowed Serratore by. Goldburg fought back to retain the 3rd position and his second podium of the weekend. Goldburg was the top Bronze driver in both races.
After 4 of 14 races of the series, Dan Goldburg leads a very tight championship by 60 points over Bijoy Garg and 160 over Brian Thienes. He has been the top Bronze driver in all four races this season and thus leads that championship, as well.
The next race for the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge is July 7-9 at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.
It was a very busy 2 week stretch for the JDC-Miller MotorSports team. JDC entered three teams, each with their own transporter, running in three different series at Daytona. They were scattered around the paddock as each team is required to paddock with their respective series. In addition to the Duqueine D08 LMP3 entry in the WeatherTech series, the team campaigned another Duqueine D08 LMP3 in the VP Racing SportsCar Challenge for veteran prototype driver Dan Goldburg. The team also returned to the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series in the TCR class with a new Audi RS3 LMS touring car for Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor.
JDC has extensive experience with the Duqueine D08 so much of the Roar weekend was focused on getting the four new drivers acclimated to the car and the racing in this series. Luca Mars qualified the car 6th in class less than .7 seconds behind the fastest car in the class and 25th in the 61 car field.
The highlight of the ROAR weekend was Dan Goldburg’s victory in the inaugural VP Racing SportsCar Challenge race. Dan qualified on the outside pole, took the lead on the first lap, and carried it home for the victory in the 45-minute sprint race. He followed that up by winning Sunday’s race as well.
The TCR team chased new car teething issues for much of the event but showed very good speed. Chris Miller qualified 3rd just .1 off the TCR pole. In the 4-hour race, the car started strong and ran close to the front. Late in the race, the car developed a high-speed misfire. Mikey Taylor and the team masterfully managed to nurse it to the finish and secured a 5th place finishing position in class. A good points start to the 2023 campaign.
In the Rolex 24, the team was running in the top 25 overall for the first 160 laps until a touch with the wall broke the right-rear suspension. The car went to the garage for repairs which were performed in less than 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the car went down 20 laps and into 56th position overall. The rest of the race was spent fighting back to 37th overall and 5th in class. They completed 715 laps of the 3.6 mile circuit.
On to Sebring for the 12 Hours of Sebring on March 18th, a race the team won in 2021.
Be sure to check out the photos from Daytona here.