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Jul 22, 2014 - 06:51 AM
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GMG Survives Wild Weekend In Toronto
Posted by: newsla on Jul 22, 2014 - 06:48 AM
Sports Cars
GMG Survives Wild Weekend In Toronto


With the streets of Toronto developing a reputation for tight racing and a propensity for incidents, this past weekend’s Molson Indy Toronto failed to disappoint with Global Motorsports Group (GMG) surviving an action-filled weekend to take a series of top-tens during the ninth and tenth rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge GT Championship.

 

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“It was a crazy weekend, that’s for sure,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “Racing on street courses is always a challenge, but Toronto is notorious for presenting a special case and everyone on the team did a great job getting through it. We would have loved to have stood on the podium and gained more points toward the championship, but with Mid-Ohio less than two weeks away, I’m glad we were able to come away with minimal damage especially since we should be really strong in Ohio.”

Taking top honors for the team would be 20-year old Andrew Palmer, who garnered a sixth place finish during yesterday’s second race. The story of Palmer’s weekend, however, came with the action during Race One.

Following an early caution period, Palmer’s propensity for strong re-starts shined through as his No. 21 Spyder / The Thermal Club Audi R8 LMS ultra made a strong move inside of fellow Audi competitor Mike Skeen in the first corner, with the two of them engaged in a battle for fifth. Making the pass, Andrew now found himself in front of Skeen, in fifth and in pursuit of the podium. Unfortunately, one lap later, Skeen would punt Palmer off course in Turn Eight, making contact with Palmer’s right rear and sending the No. 21 spinning, narrowly avoiding heavy contact with the barriers. Getting himself turned around, Palmer would fall far down the field as a result. Falling back as far as 15th, the Pomona College student would make an incredible drive through the field to catch up, eventually crossing the checkered flag in ninth.

During Race Two, Palmer would make an instant get away from his 10th place starting position, immediately engaged in a four way fight amongst his teammate (and team owner) Sofronas, as well as the two Cadillacs of Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim. Trading positions lap after lap, the experience and professionalism of all four drivers showed, as the No. 21 would take the checkered flag without a scratch, crossing the line in sixth right behind the Cadillac of Pilgrim.

“This definitely wasn’t the weekend we were hoping for,” stated Palmer. “In Race One I knew we had a good car, and I was ahead of Mike before I was spun around and sustained car damage. That basically hurt our entire weekend. It’s disappointing, and we came very prepared to compete. Race Two was really just damage control, trying to get back all the positions I could. I enjoyed racing with James and both Cadillacs, all three of them demonstrated what professional racing should be about. I’m looking forward to heading to Mid Ohio, as we should have a car suited to our strengths, and I think we have a good shot there.”

Sofronas, driving the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / Spyder Audi R8 LMS ultra, had a relatively quiet weekend compared to his teammates. In Race One, the Villa Park, California resident was engaged in a race-long battle with Cadillac driver Andy Pilgrim. However, due to the constant series of yellows the Audi was never able to really demonstrate its key strengths, eventually finishing seventh.

Starting in sixth for Round Two, Sofronas would enjoy a race-long fight with teammate Palmer, as well as the duo of Johnny O’Connell and Andy Pilgrim. Trading positions lap after lap, James would eventually give way to his teammate to follow in tow, once again finishing seventh just ahead of O’Connell.

In the GT-A category, team veteran Bill Ziegler and the No. 95 Swisher Racing machine continued an impressive 2014 run finishing the weekend just off the podium in fourth place. Knowing that the nature of Toronto is synonymous with incidents and chaos, the Florida native exercised patience throughout both races climbing up to fifth in his first race and following it up yesterday by just narrowly missing third.

“Any time you can leave Toronto without significant damage it’s a good weekend,” stated Ziegler. “I just wanted to keep the car clean especially since Mid-Ohio could be a good place for us. The car didn’t have a misstep all race long, and I have to thank everyone on the team for ensuring a fun couple of races for us.”

Finally, Bret Curtis and the No. 32 Spectra Resources / United Steel / Valspar machine would endure a difficult weekend, though highlighted by a fourth place in GT-A during the first round. In Race One, Curtis was off to a rough start when he would make contact with another Audi on the opening lap luckily avoiding significant damage and soldiering on throughout the race. Putting his attention to simply finishing, the Texas resident would finish fourth.

In Race Two, Curtis’s hopes to avoid incident were dashed when contact with the No. 23 Audi R8 LMS ultra would end the day for both drivers after just 11 laps of competition.

“I wasn’t terribly happy with the weekend so we’ll just move on to Mid-Ohio where I have a lot of laps,” stated Curtis. “The team did a great job looking after the car, it was just a difficult event and something we’ll learn from.”

With only a few days between races, the team is already underway getting prepared for the upcoming Honda Indy 200 taking place in just under two weeks from August 1-3. As a permanent road course, the team has high hopes that the strengths of their Audi machinery should give them a strong shot at results.

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