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Aug 26, 2014 - 07:28 PM
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New Look Provides Strong Series of Runs for GMG at Sonoma
Posted by: newsla on Aug 26, 2014 - 07:20 PM
Sports Cars
New Look Provides Strong Series of Runs for GMG at Sonoma


With an all-new look and a rejuvenated organization courtesy of Spyder Active Sports, Global Motorsports Group (GMG) would enjoy a series of strong runs during this weekend’s Cadillac Grand Prix of Sonoma at Sonoma Raceway, the 13th and 14th rounds of the Pirelli World Challenge.

 

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“We really wanted to deliver for everyone at Spyder this weekend,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “We showed up with a brand new, Spyder-designed look, and we knew we had to perform. Sonoma is such a challenging track that you have to be just about perfect everywhere, and the guys all did a great job of pushing hard for results. We obviously would have loved to come away with some hardware, but everyone did all they could and we’ll be in even better shape for the series finale.”

Top honors for the weekend would go to Andrew Palmer in the No. 21 Spyder / The Thermal Club Audi R8 LMS ultra. After a challenging few races, the 20-year old came in to the weekend in hot pursuit of a podium return, especially given his third place in the championship standings.

For Saturday’s Race One, Andrew would make an excellent start, jumping from seventh place at the start to fifth by time the first lap was over. Unfortunately, fluid on the track would lead to an extended caution shortly thereafter, meaning Palmer’s strength in managing tires during a 50-minute race would be negated.

As the green flag fell, the Pomona College student was instantly engaged in a great battle with the Bentley of Butch Leitzinger, successfully making the pass and advancing to fourth with over 20 minutes to go. As the race would go on, Andrew would do all he could to gain on the leaders, however the tricky nature of the circuit makes it difficult to pass under normal racing conditions, and Palmer would eventually see the checkered flag in fourth.

During Saturday’s Race Two, Palmer’s day would end early when an issue during the race-opening standing start would lead to a broken axel, meaning Andrew would fail to make a lap.

“We really wanted to get on the podium this weekend,” stated Palmer. “Obviously giving it our best for Spyder was important to us, but also for the crew who’ve worked very hard to get us here and deserved some good results. We came so close on Saturday and I was hoping that Sunday would be the day, but it just wasn’t meant to be. We’re hoping for good things at Miller and look forward to the event.”

For James Sofronas, his consistency in the 2014 season continued as he took top-tens in both rounds.

During Saturday’s Race One, James and the No. 14 Spyder / Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club machine would make great work of his sixth row start, advancing one position and in hot pursuit of the field in front of him before a full course caution would be thrown for fluid on track. Knowing that tire management was no longer an issue, the Villa Park, California resident put his focus on driving as hard as he could once racing resumed. With the green flag out, the race was on for James, who spent the entirety of his racing battling with the No. 77 Ferrari of Mike Hedlund, and the No. 8 Cadillac of Andy Pilgrim, for who James seems to be in a season-long battle with.

Enjoying the back and forth, James would be scored in seventh once the checkered flag came.

For Race Two, James would find himself starting from the seventh row, confident that he had a car to move well up the field. Once the green light flashed, Sofronas was off and running, advancing to 11th by the end of the first turn and on the heels of the competitors in front of him. Continuing his race with Pilgrim, the duo would also fight with Leitzinger, as a fierce battle for a top-ten finish looked set to go right down to the wire.

Following an extended caution period for multiple incidents, James was hard at work for a top-five result once green flag conditions resumed. By lap 16, the team owner was up to eighth. As the closing laps gained, a fight for top Audi honors with the No. 2 of Mike Skeen would emerge, with Skeen eventually suffering damage and falling back to 19th in the process. When the checkered flag fell, James would see himself in sixth and the top Audi.

“It was definitely an exciting weekend of racing,” stated Sofronas. “It’s unfortunate for the fans that we had so many yellows, but once we went green I don’t think I ever had a lap to myself to just drive. No doubt I was hungry for a podium, but at least we were able to finish as top Audi and that definitely is worth something. It was great having Spyder on board with the new look, and our final event should be even stronger.”

Finally, representing the team in the GTA category, Bill Ziegler’s No. 95 Swisher Racing machine had a mixed weekend. In Race One, the Florida native did a masterful job of surviving the yellows and gaining ground. Passing two cars during the start, Bill would continue his race in the same form he’s run much of the season in, not putting a foot wrong and crossing the line in seventh. Unfortunately in Race Two, attrition would get the better of Bill and he’d finish in ninth.

“The weekend was OK, Sonoma can always be tough,” stated Ziegler. “There’s so much traffic here and it’s really tough to pass, so we were just trying to see the finish. The guys put together a great car and I’m sure the race at Miller will be a strong one.”

With three weeks until the final round at Miller Motorsports Park, the GMG crew will be hard at work getting their cars prepared for the Utah finale. Practice begins on Friday, August 22, with race action taking place on Sunday, August 24.

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