BMW

BMW team drivers Alexander Sims (left) and Connor De Phillippi (right) celebrate their win following last year’s Michelin GT Challenge at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton. The pair are returning to VIR this weekend to attempt to defend last year’s win.

The country and the world’s premier professional road racers will take to the track Friday at VIRginia International Raceway at Alton as action kicks off for the Michelin GT Challenge IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship event weekend.

Thousands of fans will converge on VIRginia International Raceway this weekend for the Michelin GT Challenge, the second and final GT-only event on the WeatherTech SportsCar Championship schedule.

This weekend’s racing action will feature the IMSA WeatherTech Sportscar Championship series’ GT LeMans and GT Daytona classes and the Michelin Pilot Challenge series.

The Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix Michelin Pilot Challenge series race will headline Saturday’s action. A two-hour event, the race gets the green flag Saturday at 2:15 p.m.

Sunday’s action includes weekend’s premier race, the Michelin GT Challenge. The two-hour-and-40-minute race gets the green flag at 1:35 p.m. It will be televised live on NBCSN at 1:30 p.m. ET, with live IMSA Radio coverage throughout the weekend airing on IMSA.com and RadioLeMans.com. The IMSA Radio race broadcast also will be carried live on SiriusXM Radio.

Several support series also will be action throughout the weekend at VIR. They include the Porsche GT3 Cup USA, IMSA Prototype Challenge and Lamborghini Super Trofeo series.

It will be an action-packed weekend at VIR as practice, qualifying and races are run rain or shine. Friday’s on-track action will center around practice and qualifying, with qualifying and racing on Saturday and racing on Sunday.

Lyn St. James, voted last year one of IMSA’s “50 Great Drivers,” will serve as the Grand Marshal for the Michelin GT Challenge and will give the command to start engines for Sunday’s race.

She held 31 international and national closed-circuit speed records over a 20-year period. In addition, St. James is the only woman to win an IMSA GT race driving solo. She will be available for meet and greets, autograph sessions and photo opportunities throughout the day on Sunday.

“We are thrilled to have such a distinguished female driver such as Lyn St. James. Last year’s Michelin GT Challenge was a thriller as BMW team drivers Alexander Sims and Connor De Phillippi pulled out the win. The pair snapped a domination of the VIR event by the factory Corvette Racing and the Ford Ganassi Racing teams.

Corvette Racing drivers Antonio Garcia and Jan Magnussen with Ford Chip Ganassi Racing drivers Ryan Briscoe and Richard Westbrook finished first and second in the GTLM class standings last season.

This season, a pair of Porsche factory teams are at the top of the championship standings heading into the Michelin GT Challenge.

Earl Bamber and Laurens Vanthoor in the No. 912 Porsche GT Team Prosche 911 RSR lead Porsche teammates Patrick Pilet and Nick Tandy by14 points entering Sunday’s race at VIR.

It is Briscoe and Westbrook that have the hot hand heading into this weekend’s race at VIR as the duo have won back-to-back races in the series’ two previous events at Road America in Wisconsin and at Lime Rock in Connecticut.

Mario Farnbacher and Trent Hindman, the co-drivers of the No. 86 Meyer Shank Racing Acura NSX GT3 entry, lead the GT Daytona (GTD) class entering this weekend’s action at VIR.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com.

Joe Chandler is the sports editor for The Gazette-Virginian. Contact him at jchandler@gazettevirginian.com