The No.17 Unitronic JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS 3 LMS TCR took home another victory at VIRginia International Raceway; making them the first team to reach the top step for a second time in the 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season; and a long overdue one, at that.
Right out of the gate, the No. 17 Audi was hooked up, as the JDC Motorsports team is no stranger to VIR, finishing the first free practice session up front in 1st position. The second free practice on Saturday brought wet and soggy conditions, which forced drivers Chris Miller and Mikey Taylor to navigate the circuit with even more tact and precision, being one of only a few teams in TCR to even go out in the session. Chris Miller, who loves racing in the rain, skillfully placed the No.17 RS 3 TCR up front in P1.
After having rained throughout the night, and being one of the first groups out on track for qualifying early Sunday morning, the team knew that conditions would rapidly improve as the 15-minute TCR qualifying session progressed. It’s risky to delay going out for a qualifying lap until conditions improved, in the event that the mixed track conditions brought out a red flag, negating any chances of setting a fast time. The entire TCR field took to the track at the start of the session, creating traffic across the lengthy 3.27-mile VIR full course circuit, making it difficult for Miller to find a gap to get on with his lap. With just under 10-minutes elapsed, one of the Hyundai’s went off track as Miller was on a fast flying lap, bringing out a red flag, which would eventually end the session short and robbing the No. 17 Audi and Miller of any chances to put it on pole, having to settle for P8.
Staring P8 on the grid meant it was important for Miller to get a good start and jump ahead as quickly as possible, as the TCR cars starting at the front usually catch the backmarkers in the GS class quickly, despite the newly introduced GS/TCR split start format. This makes it difficult to catch the leaders, while managing tire wear and fuel consumption throughout the stint. Miller carefully picked off car after car, making his way from 8th to 4th throughout his 60-minute opening stint.
“It was disappointing to have qualifying cut short as I think we had a great shot at another pole but it was fun to be able to overtake some cars in the race. The team gave me a great car again and I just tried to give Mikey a clean car close enough to the front for him to have a chance. The guys did a great job to get us another spot in the pits and then Mikey drove great to get us the lead. Just a huge thanks to the team for all the hard work this year and I hope we can add another win in Atlanta to close the season in style.” Said an enthusiastic Miller.
Just as the team was coming up on their pit window, having met the 40-minute minimum drive time, a full course yellow came out and the team pitted for a full service stop. The JDC-Miller Motorsports crew executed an absolutely flawless pit stop, putting on four fresh sticker tires, a full load of fuel, and driver change in under a minute. Having come into the pits in P4, the hard-working JDC-Miller crew’s expertly executed pit stop allowed Taylor to head back out with an improved track position in 3rd.
With only two TCR cars ahead, Taylor quickly got to work picking off the Hyundai and Honda ahead, propelling the No. 17 into P1 on lap 34 of 56 and pulling a bit of a gap to give himself some breathing room to manage the tires and fuel. The gap was short lived though, as another full course yellow came out with 35-minutes to go in the race. The FCY meant the field would pack up for the restart, making Taylor and the No.17 Audi vulnerable to the gaggle of Hyundai’s just behind. Mikey Taylor managed the gap like the seasoned pro he is, keeping the Hyundais behind for the remainder of the race to bring the No. 17 Unitronic JDC-Miller Motorsports Audi RS 3 TCR SEQ victory at VIR.
“What a race! I am overjoyed being able to bring home another win for our hardworking team and partners! Chris did a great job at the start and hunting down the leaders, and the crew was lightning in the pits! It was good fun racing with the Hyundai’s and Honda’s up front there, and it got a little heated at points but that’s racing, and I’m so happy we could win at VIR, a place special to many of our crew guys and Audi!” said Taylor
The win propels the No. 17 Unitronic JDC-Miller Motorsports Team up to P5 in the championship, with only 90-points to 2nd, with one race remaining in the season. The 2021 IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season comes to a close with the Fox Factory 120, November 10th – November 13th at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta.