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Aug 05, 2014 - 03:17 PM
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Consistency Prevails in Mid-Ohio for GMG
Posted by: newsla on Aug 05, 2014 - 03:09 PM
Sports Cars
Consistency Prevails in Mid-Ohio for GMG


Following a weekend that saw everything from extended yellows to rain-shortened distances, the four-car fleet of Global Motorsports Group (GMG) completed a trouble-free event to sweep top-10 positions during the 11th and 12th rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

 

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“Any time you can leave an event with all four cars unscathed, you’ve had a good weekend,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “Mid-Ohio can be such a challenging course with passing at a premium, I’m happy we were able to deliver some top-fives and keep everyone in the top-10. The guys had every condition thrown at them from rain, to long cautions, to debris, and everyone kept their cool. I’m especially proud of the crew who’ve been on the road for quite a while keeping this program going, and it will be good to return to the west coast for our last couple of rounds.”

Taking top honors in the GT ranks would be Andrew Palmer in the No. 21 Spyder / The Thermal Club Audi R8 LMS ultra. In Race One the 20-year old would convert his fourth row starting position in to a fifth-place finish, surviving a wild race in the process. Making a strong start, Andrew would make immediate work of the field in front of him, however an extended series of caution laps would prevent him from being able to make the most out of his car. Running in a close fight with the No. 61 Ferrari 458 of Anthony Lazzaro, Palmer was able to pass for fourth as Lazzaro went wide in Turn One during the closing laps. However, a late race rain shower would end up halting the race early just as Andrew had pitted for rain tires. Lazzaro stayed on track and crossed the start/finish line ahead of Palmer, who was in pit Lane, thus regaining fourth place and leaving fifth to Andrew.

In Race Two, Andrew would improve one position, taking fourth place honors on the day. Starting from the third row, Andrew would push hard to keep with the field in front of him, however he found himself caught behind the No. 3 Cadillac CTS-V.R of Johnny O’Connell for much of the race. While Palmer’s Audi showed many strengths over the Cadillac, the straight-line speed of O’Connell proved difficult for Andrew to make a move, doing everything he could to find a way past. Luckily, a late race caution would provide an opportunity, and during the re-start Palmer would make a daring move on the outside of Turn One around O’Connell, which he managed to make stick and finally gain the spot with only minutes remaining. He would end the race reeling in Lazzaro’s Ferrari with his eye's set for a podium, however he simply ran out of time and had to settle for fourth.

In the championship, Palmer still made significant inroads, now tied for third in the Driver’s Championship and nine points ahead of Andy Pilgrim.

“We were really hoping to return to the podium this weekend, but at least we were able to race really well,” stated Palmer. “Everyone at this team did a great job getting us prepared, and I did everything I could to study for this track. Race One was a real challenge. We ended up starting a little further back than I’d planned, and with all of the cautions you had a very small amount of time to make a run. Race Two was a lot of fun. Racing Johnny is always a challenge with all of his experience, but when I saw the opportunity after the re-start I knew I had to go for it, and I’m happy it worked. Sonoma should be a good race for us, and we’re looking to finish strong.”

Also competing in the GT class, GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas continued his run of consistency in the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / Spyder Audi R8 LMS ultra. In Race One, Sofronas’ year-long battle with the No. 8 Cadillac of Andy Pilgrim would continue, with the two engaged in a battle throughout the event. Despite all of the cautions and rain, the Villa Park, California resident would manage to stay ahead of Pilgrim through the race, eventually taking sixth.

In Race Two, James would make a strong start in search of even better results, however as the pace settled in the team owner found himself running much of the race trying to gain on the field in front, meanwhile keeping his competitors behind. Once again trying to chase down the Cadillac of Pilgrim, the attention turned to his mirror, with the No. 08 Bentley of Butch Leitzinger giving chase. As the checkered flag fell, James would manage to hold off the Bentley, taking seventh.

“We were doing everything we could to chase the guys in front,” stated Sofronas. “We’ve got a few things to work on heading to Sonoma, as this field is so competitive we need to make sure we’re capitalizing on everything. Overall I’m happy with both races, but definitely want to prepare for our final rounds, as we know we’re capable of better finishes.”

In the GT-A category, Bill Ziegler’s No. 95 Swisher Racing machine continued an impressive performance on permanent road courses. In Race One, the Florida native performed his usual steady drive, running without error despite numerous incidents around him including the closing rain shower. Keeping cool, Bill was rewarded with a fourth place finish.

In Race Two, Bill would do his best to stay out of trouble, once again driving without error en route to tenth.

“The first race was definitely a memorable one,” stated Ziegler. “With all of the yellows, and then the rain, we just wanted to keep our nose clean and it seemed to work really well. The guys did a good job of keeping it all together and talking me through on the radio, and ultimately I think it was a good weekend.”

Finally, driving the No. 76 Prestige Imports / Morgan Adams Foundation machine, series returnee Alex Welch would have a relatively quiet weekend en route to successive top-10’s. In Race One, the Colorado native would run without error en route to a sixth place finish, gaining several spots through attrition as he managed to avoid incident. In Race Two, Alex would once again run flawless, eventually taking eighth in the GT-A category.

“It was a nice, quiet return to the series,” stated Welch. “The Pirelli World Challenge always provides such an exciting format, it was good to return and push hard, but still come back with a clean car. Everyone at GMG did a great job getting me prepared, and the car was fantastic. It’s great to be back, and I look forward to the next one.”

With only two weekends remaining in the Pirelli World Challenge, GMG will return to California for the next round in only three weeks’ time, the Sonoma Grand Prix at the storied Sonoma Raceway. As yet another double-header weekend, the team will arrive with a brand new livery and program, which will be announced shortly.

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