IMPC: Taylor Hagler charges to second top-5 finish of the season
"It was a positive day for us" - Taylor Hagler has equalled her best finish of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season to date with a great recovery on the final lap to secure fifth place at VIRginia International Raceway.
Taylor Hagler has equalled her best finish of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season to date with a fifth place result at Virginia International Raceway.
Despite some technical issues preventing Hagler logging laps in practice, she drove an excellent second stint to overcome a pit lane penalty to take the checkered flag fifth in TCR for Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian.
Despite a really unfortunate campaign, Taylor has shown speed during the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge season to date and was aiming for a repeat of her fantastic performance at Virginia International Raceway from last year. Friday saw a pair of practice sessions for Hagler and Lewis, with the #1 Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian Hyundai Elantra N ending the opening session fourth in TCR.
Technical issues limited Taylor to only two laps in practice one, with the issues continuing into the second session with the team unable to complete a representative lap time in the second session.
Heading into qualifying, difficulties persisted for the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian team with Michael tasked with qualifying the #1 Hyundai Elantra. Despite missing the first half of the session, Lewis did a superb job to set the second fastest time in the TCR class in light of the limited running, also getting amongst the GS class while leading the way for Hyundai.
Starting from the front row of the grid in TCR, Michael made an excellent start and claimed the lead, opening out an advantage of 3.7 seconds by the end of the first lap. Lewis’ lead was reduced with a full course yellow period on lap four, with Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian driver enjoying close battles with Mark Wilkins and Chris Miller during the first half of his stint.
A smart strategy call from the team brought Michael into the pits on lap 15 and although restarting further down the field, drove back through to the TCR class lead by lap 20. Dealing with a further full course yellow period, Lewis completed an excellent stint by handing over to Hagler in the lead of race with a five second margin.
Taylor took over the Hyundai Elantra N for her first laps in anger of the weekend and was immediately dealt a setback with the team issued a drive through penalty for speeding in the pitlane. Nonetheless, Hagler’s initial lap times were particularly impressive as she battled with Tyler Maxson prior to serving her penalty. Following her drive through, Taylor was sitting eighth in TCR and hoped for full course yellow period to catch up to her rivals.
Hagler’s lap times remained consistent, with 12 consecutive laps within a second of her best time following the penalty. On lap 50, a full course yellow period allowed the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian driver to catch the pack while also moving up to seventh. With a one lap shootout to decide the race, Taylor made a great restart and finished fifth in TCR, equalling her best result of the season to date.
“It was a positive day for us and the Bryan Herta Autosport team", Hagler said.
"Michael and I had a solid and clean race and made forward strides in both of our stints."
"The late race yellow really evened the playing field and allowed me to make some big moves to finish in the top five today", the two-time champion continued. "Thank you to the team for a big effort over the weekend and helping us battle back from some issues in practice.”
Despite having little track time prior to her stint, Taylor’s lap times were extremely impressive and without the pit road penalty, a TCR class podium may have been within reach. A fifth place result equals Hagler’s best in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge this season and with Michael leading a sizeable portion of his stint, underlined the speed of the Bryan Herta Autosport with Curb Agajanian team.
The next round of the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge will be the second four-hour contest of the season, taking place at the legendary Indianapolis Motor Speedway on the weekend of 16th/17th September.