De Quesada, Lazare win GS for McLaren at Laguna

The WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca 120 evolved into a two-car battle for Grand Sport (GS) class honors in Round 3 of the 2024 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge.

The two-hour contest at the iconic California racetrack appeared to have been decided by a quicker pit stop for the No. 28 RS1 Porsche 718 GT4 RS Clubsport driven by Stevan McAleer and Trent Hindman. But Jesse Lazare, who shared the No. 69 Motorsports in Action McLaren Artura GT4 that Michael de Quesada guided to the Motul Pole Award one day earlier, caught and passed Hindman with 28 minutes remaining and held on to win by 0.691s.

The domination by the leading duo was demonstrated by the fact that the third-place No. 57 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT GT4 was 16 seconds behind at the end of 75 laps of racing. Daniel Morad (co-driver Bryce Ward) hunted down and passed Jack Hawksworth in the No. 50 Hattori Motorsports Toyota Supra GT4 Evo for the final podium position, but Hawksworth and co-driver Jaden Conwright had nothing to be ashamed of in fourth place after a technical infringement in qualifying forced them to start from the back of the 25-car GS field.


De Quesada controlled the pace throughout his opening 62-minute stint, but Lazare found himself in second place to start the second half of the race. Hindman initially looked comfortable at the front in the Porsche, but the pace of the pole-winning McLaren became apparent and Hindman was powerless to hold off Lazare.

“It was almost a perfect race,” Lazare said. “We lost a bit of time in the pits, and I lost a little bit on my out lap getting the tires up to temperature quick enough. But we kept a steady pace and were finally able to catch up to the Porsche, passed him and kept him behind us.

“Our gear ratios, in particular, really suited these corners on this track,” he added. “We had torque in all the right places, with great power down and grip. I couldn’t ask for anything more.”

Earlier in the day, de Quesada called the race “one of the most prestigious races on our calendar,” so he was thrilled to capture his first victory in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition.

“You never really know what’s going to happen, so I kept an open mind,” he said. “We definitely capitalized on the pole position, and it was absolutely awesome to get a win here.”

It was Lazare’s third Michelin Pilot Challenge win, and the first for him and McLaren since the 2023 season finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

Hindman took the second-place finish in stride and paid tribute to the RS1 pit crew that vaulted the No. 28 Porsche into the lead.

“Our guys are animals on the wheel gun,” he remarked. “I wanted to try to take advantage of that, so I pushed hard on the out lap and was able to open a bit of a gap. But there’s no doubt they had some speed in that car and it was going to be a fight. At the end of the day, I didn’t want to jeopardize a quality result.”

Miller, Taylor, No. 17 earn third straight TCR win of season

Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor kept their perfect 2024 season intact in the Touring Car (TCR) portion of the Michelin Pilot Challenge by following the same recipe of success.

As he did in the first two races this year, Miller put the No. 17 Unitronic/JDC-Miller MotorSports Audi RS3 LMS TCR in contention at WeatherTech Raceway, then Taylor powered the car into the lead and on to victory lane.

Miller passed a pair of Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb-Agajanian Hyundais in the final 21 minutes of the two-hour race to secure the third win in as many outings this season for the No. 17 Audi. It’s been a rewarding beginning to 2024 for the JDC-Miller team after a shot at winning the TCR championship slipped away in the 2023 finale at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.

“We’re focused on winning this championship after it got away from us in Atlanta last year,” Taylor said.

Taylor started second in TCR but a miscue behind a GS car during his stint dropped him to fifth place when he turned the No. 17 over to Miller on a pit stop. Miller trailed leader Mason Filippi in the No. 98 BHA Hyundai Elantra N TCR by eight seconds with 45 minutes remaining but chipped away the deficit quickly.

Miller shoved his way past Robert Wickens in the No. 33 BHA Hyundai through the Andretti Hairpin with 21 minutes to go. Two laps later, he followed a pair of GS cars past Filippi in the same spot to grab the lead and went on to win by 1.254 seconds.

“I don’t think we had crazy outright speed, but on old tires, which is what this track is known for, we were OK,” Miller said. “It was a couple tough passes. The GS guys helped me out a little bit, making some holes, and we took what we could.

“It feels great, feels great,” Miller added. “I had my mind on my wedding next week a little bit, but it feels good to be here. Great points for the team and just happy for everyone in the program.”

The win was the ninth for Taylor in Michelin Pilot Challenge competition and the eighth for Miller. Meanwhile, Filippi and co-driver Mark Wilkins, trying to repeat as the WeatherTech Raceway TCR winners, felt that second place was the best they could do on this day.

“I think we did the best we could today,” Wilkins said. “We can’t compete with that car with the pace right now that they can run, so for us, we were just trying to make as few mistakes as possible. We ran really a perfect day in my opinion, so second is a win for us today.”

Saturday’s race broadcast will air at 1pm ET Saturday, May 18 on CNBC. Both classes of the Michelin Pilot Challenge return to action June 6-8 at the O’Reilly Auto Parts Four Hours of Mid-Ohio.


Story originally appeared on Racer