The IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge program returned to the track this past weekend as Tyler Maxson and Bryan Ortiz joined Van Der Steur Racing at the famed Watkins Glen International. Piloting a Hyundai Elantra N TCR, the duo earned their first podium result of the season after overcoming a weekend of challenges in Corning, New York.
“It is great to finally get the first podium result of the season after showing the speed at several events, ” Maxson expressed. “It wasn’t easy as we had some trouble in the pits on the driver change but managed to rebound with speed on the track. Throughout the weekend the weather was chaotic, and at the end of the race, I was forced to battle with cars that were much faster than me in a straight line, so I am happy to walk away with a podium result and score some valuable championship points.”
With top-five pace in practice, Ortiz was able to drive the #91 Van Der Steur Racing machine to a third-place result in qualifying on Friday afternoon in preparation for Saturday afternoon’s wheel-to-wheel racing.
Maxson added, “Bryan did a great job in qualifying. Our goal was to be close to the front of the field and he accomplished that. Tomorrow, we go racing.”
Returning to the track Saturday and waiting all day until their on-track session, rain began to fall. Downpouring just before cars rolled off the grid, teams switched to wet weather tires as it was officially declared a wet start. Ortiz took the green flag and cared for the #91 machine for the race’s first half. Staying clean and out of trouble, the driver change posed the first real problem for the #91 machine as Maxon jumped behind the wheel at mid-race distance and would drive it to the end. With a drying track and battling cars that had faster straight-line speed than he did, the teenager from Georgia managed to gain positions and hold off the advances of others in a brilliant drive to the third and final step on the podium.
Maxson continued, “It was a challenging weekend all around but very happy to be able to reward the Van Der Steur Racing guys a podium finish and earn a good chunk of championship points. The team has worked hard all season and deserves more results like this.”’
Next up for Tyler Maxson and Bryan Ortiz is a trip north of the border to the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park over the July 7-9 weekend.
For more information on Tyler Maxson or to follow the event weekend, be sure to tune into the Tyler Maxson Racing social media pages by searching ‘Tyler Maxson Racing’.
Photos: Halston Pitman – MotorSportMedia