As the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge 2023 season begins to wind down, Tyler Maxson paired up with Bryan Ortiz on the road course of the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway (IMS) this past weekend in the second of two four-hour races this season. Looking to fight their way to a podium result, Maxson and Ortiz managed another solid drive, this time taking the checkered flag in the sixth position.
With a late schedule change Friday, the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge program would have only two practice sessions instead of the original three. The morning practice kicked off shortly before noon when the drivers got their first taste of what challenges IMS would present to them, however, Maxson and Ortiz would have issues that hindered any full laps in the first on-track session of the weekend. Later in the evening just before 8 pm, and after changing engines, practice two would kick off giving the drivers a chance to feel what racing through the setting sun was going to be like. Behind from missing all of the first practice, the Van Der Steur Racing entry was hard at work trying to play catchup for lost valuable track time.
Saturday hosted two on-track sessions including qualifying where the drivers would set the grid in a 15-minute session. Ortiz was in the car for the qualifying session and secured a fifth-place position locking in a third row start in the TCR class.
“We knew going into this weekend that this race would host its challenges,” expressed Maxson. “It is one of the longest races in our season and is the same length as Daytona at the beginning of the season. Going into this race it’s about putting all the knowledge gained in the season to work.”
The green flag flew at 4:30pm Saturday afternoon and Maxson and Ortiz would race into the darkness as the sun set in Indianapolis. Through an early yellow flag and a few scattered ones through the rest of the race, everyone was focused on fuel saving to see if they could make it to the end with one less pit stop. Focused on driving the fastest possible race lap but saving as much fuel as possible was the name of the game as drivers and teams jockeyed for position over the 14-turn road course.
As the race wore on and the sun turned into darkness, the checkered flag waved marking the end of the four-hour race. As the #91 Van Der Steur Racing Hyundai Elantra N TCR crossed the finish line they secured a sixth-place finish at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway closing out the weekend and leaving only one event remaining in the 2023 season.
Photo Credit: IMSA