Dontje Leads Mercedes-AMG Front Row with Michelin Pilot Challenge Motul Pole Award at Watkins Glen
Friday, June 28, 2019

On a sunny Friday afternoon at Watkins Glen International, Winward Racing/HTP Motorsport and Mercedes-AMG stole the show in IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge qualifying.

Dutchman Indy Dontje led the effort by earning his first Motul Pole Award in the team’s No. 33 Mercedes-AMG GT4 with a time of one minute, 54.709 seconds (106.704 mph). Dontje is in the middle of his first full season with Winward Racing in the top-tier Grand Sport (GS) class after running a partial schedule in 2018.

Dontje’s pole for Saturday’s four-hour Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 is Mercedes-AMG’s second of the season after Owen Trinkler scored the top spot at Sebring International Raceway in March. The manufacturer has a total of three in the series.

“It’s really fast, we don’t even go to second gear,” said Dontje, who co-drives with Russell Ward. “It’s all third gear corners, here mostly high gear corners, which makes it pretty interesting and pretty difficult at some places. It’s really cool to be on pole here at The Glen.

“We’re going to change a few things, but the car in the base is really good. Actually, we don’t touch it so much and our engine and our engineer Tomas will do a great job on that and we will be prepared. Maximum prepared we can be for the race.”

Just a mere .171 seconds back and starting on the outside of the front row is fellow Winward teammate Christian Hohenadel in the No. 57 Mercedes-AMG. Hohenadel co-drives with Bryce Ward, who is Winward Racing’s team owner and the father of Dontje’s co-driver.

Winners of the season-opening race, Paul Holton and Kuno Wittmer in the No. 75 Compass Racing McLaren GT4, will line up third on the grid alongside the victors from Sebring, Tyler McQuarrie and Tyler Westphal in the No. 39 Carbahn Motorsports Audi R8 GT4.

Lewis Continues Bryan Herta Autosport’s Momentum with TCR Motul Pole Award for Hyundai

Bryan Herta Autosport is on a roll.

After scoring the team’s first win in the last race at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in May – which also was Hyundai’s first in Pilot Challenge – the No. 98 team landed on top of the leaderboard once again in Friday’s qualifying session.

Michael Lewis scored his first Motul Pole Award with a time of 1:56.888 (104.715 mph) to lead the TCR field to green in tomorrow’s Tioga Downs 240. His pole position comes in what will be his fourth start in the series tomorrow.

“I really just have to say thank you to Hyundai and my teammate Mark,” said Lewis, who co-drives with Mark Wilkins. “This Veloster N TCR was so hooked up in this qualifying session and to get this Motul P1 position award is really cool. You see a lot of cool drivers earning this and to be that lucky driver today is pretty honorable, so I feel really honored to be in this position.

“For the team itself we’ve had one year last year in motor series getting used to TCR and that really helps because coming into this series, we knew the car really well and how to tune it basically. My teammate Mark Wilkins is super solid as a co-driver so we had that down. We just needed to get used to pit stops and once we got those down, we really did a nice job last race at Mid-Ohio. Now we’ve just got to keep going. We’re on a little bit of a roll here, got this pole and it’s all thanks to the team putting in the effort last year and doing their work in the offseason.”

BHA will be playing defense, though, with two Audi RS3 LMS race cars on their heels starting second and third on the grid. Michael Johnson in the No. 54 for JDC-Miller Motorsports qualified his Audi in second, with Jay Salinsky putting the No. 23 FAST MD Racing Audi in third.

The Tioga Downs Casino Resort 240 goes green on Saturday at 1:55 p.m. ET and will be streamed live on IMSA.tv with IMSA Radio commentary. The NBCSN television broadcast will air on Thursday, July 11 at 6 p.m. ET.

To follow news and updates throughout the weekend, please visit IMSA.com or join the conversation on social media using the hashtags #IMPC and #IMSA. 

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