Thompson and Hattori Secure Victory in Michelin Pilot Challenge Debut at CTMP
BOWMANVILLE, ON, CANADA
In an electrifying debut, Alberta native Parker Thompson won this weekend as IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge visited Canadian Tire Motorsports Park. Driving the No. 50 Weins Auto Group GR Supra GT4 EVO for Hattori Motorsports, Thompson earned the first-place starting position in qualifying and, alongside teammate Billy Johnson, shone throughout the two-hour race to gain the race victory.
As the team familiarized themselves with the GR Supra GT4 EVO race car and the historic Ontario road course, both drivers showed a middling performance in practice sessions on Friday. In qualifying however, the No. 50 GR Supra demonstrated new pace as Thompson clocked an impressive 1:22.334 second lap in the early minutes of the session. When the session was red-flagged due to a collision, the timing sheet showed the blue, red, and white No. 50 in pole position by more than half a second margin.
When the Canadian Tire Motorsports Park 120 contest started on Saturday afternoon, Thompson continued to lead all entries. Through 37 laps, he created a thirteen-second margin over the field before entering the pits and handing the No. 50 off to Billy Johnson.
Johnson rejoined the race, finding himself in a tight battle for the lead with the No. 95 Turner Motorsports BMW, who had made up considerable time in the pits. Although he would surrender the lead early in his stint, Johnson kept the No. 50 Weins Auto Group GR Supra within striking distance, applying pressure to the leader. He would take the checkered flag in second place. In post-race inspections however, officials found that the leading No. 95 had violated series regulations. The resulting penalties critically awarded the victory to Thompson and the Hattori Motorsports squad.
The result is Thompson’s first win in the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge, and one that caps off a recent string of outstanding performances for the young Canadian. “Winning at CTMP this weekend is such a great achievement for our team,” said Thompson. “This was my first weekend in Michelin Pilot Challenge, and it was also the first meeting for Billy, myself, and the Hattori Motorsports team. We set the bar high for ourselves here. The team at Weins Auto Group put together a strong effort to celebrate their 50th anniversary in front of a home crowd. It’s so satisfying to reach our goal and give them the win they deserve. On top of that, I’m proud to have helped Toyota earn its first win in the Michelin Pilot Challenge series. The GR Supra GT4 EVO is proving to be one of the most well-rounded cars in the GT4 category. I’m honored to help them earn the top accolade in this series.”
For Thompson, the performance marks two consecutive IMSA race weekends where he has celebrated first place. Just two weeks ago, he was part of a GTD class victory at Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen with Lexus Racing USA and Vasser Sullivan. Further proving his versatility and performance, in 2023, Thompson has now celebrated wins in three series with three Toyota race cars. In May, he earned a Silver-class victory in Pirelli GT4 America with the Hanley Motorsports No. 999 GR Supra GT4 EVO. That is where Thompson will return to action next, when that series visits Road America, August 18-20.
Images credit @sidelinesportsphotography