IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge
VIRginia International Raceway
Saturday, August 27, 2022
Coming off their most successful finish of the season at Road America, the Racing to End Alzheimer’s/Hardpoint team rolled onto the familiar turf of VIRginia International Raceway hoping to build on their momentum.
For the Hardpoint crew, the penultimate race in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge series represented a return to their home track after a long, grueling season. Replete with fanfare, gatherings and racing demonstrations at the Hardpoint headquarters, the homecoming weekend kicked off in a festive and celebratory way.
Despite the lighthearted start, qualifying brought the team back down to business. With a scorching top ten lap put in by Nick Galante, the crew was keenly aware that 2 hours of clean racing stood between them and a podium finish.
A Battle on All Fronts
With race-time temperatures hovering around 90 degrees, the team knew their No.22 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 RS Clubsport would be at a disadvantage in the extreme heat and humidity. Adjusting their setup and strategy accordingly, they felt confident when Nick Galante took off at the green flag.
As is typical for Galante, he sped into a fast start, moving up to eighth in the opening lap. VIR is known for its technical sections and legendary esses, by which drivers live or die. With significant opportunity to make up time in the difficult sections, an experienced driver like Nick can pounce on opportunities and move ahead quickly. By the end of his hour plus stint, Galante remained in the top ten, well within striking distance of the podium.
During a perfect pit stop, Galante handed the No.22 over to Sean McAlister, who was channeling his inner Michael Jordan flu game and racing through an unfortunate illness. One lap into his stint, the engineers made a gutsy veteran decision to stay on track during a full course caution, and McAlister found himself all the way up in third place.
What followed was what can only be described as a slog. With temperatures rising, the Porsche began to labor and McAlister lost positions on VIR’s technical sections. Despite his valiant efforts to limit the damage, the team’s strategy was eventually thwarted by a fuel pick-up issue in the last ten minutes of the race. Sean was able to refire the Cayman on track, but the No.22 had lost significant time and ended the race in 16th place.
One More to Go
In a year that has been rife with challenges and frustration on the track, the weekend at VIR might seem to be consistent with this season’s ongoing storyline. But success on the track is only part of what we’re doing here at Racing to End Alzheimer’s, and we are constantly reminded of that fact by the growing number of names proudly displayed on our livery.
Off-track, the enthusiasm displayed by Racing to End Alzheimer’s supporters continues to add wind to this team’s sails. We’re so grateful and humbled to be flying under the Racing to End Alzheimer’s banner! Thank you for your support this season – and stay tuned for the final race of the 2022 season at Road Atlanta, September 28 – October 1.