There is no room for sentimentality in professional sports, the IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge is no different. When the #71 Urban Grid Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R hit the inside wall at Daytona’s Turn 1, just 11 laps into the opening race of its farewell season, it became apparent that the odds of the Rebel Rock Racing crew gloriously driving off into the sunset, at season’s end, had grown to an almost insurmountable length.The team from Deland, Florida, headed home from the season opener with the largest possible deficit to the leaders. The 340-point margin meant that drivers Frank DePew and Robin Liddell effectively had no margin for error in the remaining 9 races.
Starting at Sebring, where Liddell took the final spot on the podium with a last lap move, and finishing at Road America, where the team used a combination of fuel strategy and speed to clinch victory, the team has accumulated 1530 points, more than any other outfit in the series through those six races.
“Robin put the plan together before Sebring,” explained driver and team owner, Frank DePew. “At tracks like Sebring, where we know the car is good, we needed to perform at our very best. At the tracks where we knew the car would not be quite so competitive, or where there is a significant risk of an incident, such as Laguna Seca or on the streets of Detroit, we needed to keep it clean and minimize the points loss. At the tracks where we excel, we need to maximize our performance and finish in the Top 5.”
For DePew’s co-driver and Rebel Rock Racing Team Manager, Robin Liddell, the final three races of the season require the same pragmatic approach. “The goal remains the same as always though: to maximize our performance at every event and take whatever opportunities come our way. The combination of our team’s preparation, strategy and execution both on track and in the pits has put our Camaro regularly up front and we will aim to continue putting on the best show we possibly can in what is our last season with this iconic car.”
Saturday’s race at VIR has additional significance for Frank DePew as it is his home race. The 3.27 miles and 17 turns are a familiar sight as the Chevy squad test there as often as the IMSA regulations allow. “Living in Richmond, I consider VIR my home track. I feel very comfortable there, mostly because of the people at the track like Connie, Kerrigan, Paula and many others. It is a great old school track that has been updated from a safety perspective, without taking away its old school character. My only regret is that with the IMSA schedule, I do not get to VIR often enough!”
With three rounds of IMSA Michelin Pilot Challenge remaining, the Rebel Rock Racing drivers and crew know they are back in the fight and the ‘Hollywood’ ending for the magnificent Pratt and Miller Chevrolet Camaro GT4.R is no longer a flight of fancy but an achievable goal.
Coverage of Saturday’s Virginia Is For Racing Lovers Grand Prix 120 is live on Peacock in the USA at 5:10pm ET. For International viewers without a TV broadcaster, the race can be seen live at IMSA.TV. IMSA Radio will also have non-stop live coverage of the race. For full event coverage please follow Rebel Rock Racing on Twitter at @RebelRockRacing, on Instagram at @rebelrockracing and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/rebelrockracing2.0.