GMG Racing Press Release
DETROIT (June 2, 2014)- Continuing a podium streak that began with a win one month ago in Birmingham,Global Motorsports Group (GMG) driver Andrew Palmer took third place honors during yesterday’s second Pirelli World Challenge round of the Chevrolet Detroit Belle Isle Grand Prix. Taking his third straight podium and fourth in six rounds, Palmer has been provisionally moved to third in the championship rankings, leading the field of all Audi entrants.
“This definitely rounded out a great weekend for us,” stated Palmer. “We knew the Cadillacs would be tough to beat on their home turf, and maximizing points was critical to us in the championship. After a very rough Friday, I’m glad the team’s hard work paid off with a series of podiums this weekend. I don’t feel like we could have asked for any better. We will return to a permanent road course at our next event, and our car really comes to life at those circuits so I’m looking forward to it.”
Starting the race from third by virtue of his fastest lap in the previous day’s race, the 19-year old once again made a great getaway as the green light flashed. Making a brief run at the second place Cadillac, the strength of his opponent over the No. 21 Spyder / The Thermal Club Audi R8 LMS ultra was clear, with the Cadillac traditionally proving very strong over Detroit’s bumpy surface.
Settling in to a rhythm, Palmer found himself in a fight with another Audi, the No. 2 of Mike Skeen, who gave chase throughout the event. When an extended caution would come out during the early stages of the race, Palmer’s experience in tire management meant he would make a strong effort to maintain heat in his tires as the field slowed, and when the green flag dropped he would do an excellent job of keeping the more experienced Skeen behind him, securing his podium when a late race caution came out to effectively end the race.
Beyond securing his fourth podium and third-place ranking in the points, Palmer has now taken the top Audi result in five of six events.
Continuing a relatively quiet weekend was driver and team owner, James Sofronas. Setting the sixth fastest lap time in Race One, the driver of the No. 14 Mobil 1 / The Thermal Club / Spyder Audi R8 LMS ultra would begin from the third row, gaining one position after a strong start. As the race wore on, Sofronas would find himself in a three-way Audi battle for the podium between Palmer and Skeen, negotiating traffic and doing his usual job of managing his tires for a long race. Unfortunately, the extended yellow in the middle of the race would put Sofronas in a defensive position once the race resumed, doing his best to keep the hard charging No. 61 Ferrari 458 of Anthony Lazzaro behind him. With six laps to go, traffic would hold up Sofronas, allowing Lazzaro the opportunity to pass and relegating James to six.
Finishing a clean series of races, the team owner can not only take pride in setting the fastest lap among Audi entrants in Race Two, but also knowing that he’s assembled such a stellar team.
“We gave it a good run today, but circumstances didn’t go our way to finish higher,” stated Sofronas. “The car was excellent, the guys did a fantastic job of getting it ready after such a difficult Friday. It was fun mixing it up with Andrew and Mike, however, you never want to be the one who clashes with your teammate or another Audi competitor, so I was just biding my time for the end. Unfortunately, the yellows sort of caught us out and with our tires and traffic it was tough to keep Anthony behind me. At the end of the day, sixth is about where we were this weekend and Andrew’s mega run is really showing the quality of this organization. On a personal note, I’ll look back at this weekend with fondness for the incredible effort the GMG guys put forth this past weekend. They were thrown many challenges and they stepped up to every single one.”
Following his first Pirelli World Challenge podium during Race One, Bret Curtis would have a more subdued Race Two taking sixth place in the GT-A category. With the extended yellow period taking away one of the Audi’s strengths in a long run, Curtis did his best to keep pace with the other marques in front of him. Opting to preserve his No. 32 Spectra Resources / United Steel Supply / Valspar machine, Curtis would eventually settle into his pace and take satisfaction in another top ten.
“Obviously a podium is much more enjoyable, but in general this was a great weekend,” stated Curtis. “I have to give a lot of credit to the crew this weekend. They went a long way toward working with me to diagnose the set-up and get a car that was suited to my liking, and that went a long way toward this weekend’s results. I’m headed to the airport with my first trophy from this series, so I’m walking away very satisfied.”
Finally, Bill Ziegler continued a consistent weekend by taking eighth in the series’ GT-A category. Ziegler, who had never driven at this course in Audi machinery, continued his improved form in the No. 95 Swisher Racing machine by running his best lap times of the weekend and maintaining contact with the category front runners to take another strong finish.
“There’s always so much going on at this track, I’m happy to walk away with a clean car and a strong finish,” stated Ziegler. “So much of racing here is about surviving, and the team has done a great job of giving me a car that can get us through it as well as helping to coach me and really bring out the best results we can.”
With a busy summer season ahead, the Pirelli World Challenge will return to action in three weeks’ time heading to the historic Road America circuit in Elkhart Lake, Wisconsin. As only the second permanent road course the series will have visited this season, the GT3 spec cars such as the Audi are looking forward to a circuit that should suit their vehicles.
Practice will begin on Thursday, June 19, with races on June 20 and June 21.
Founded in 2001 by James Sofronas and Fabryce Kutyba, GMG has quickly established itself as North America’s premier performance tuning and racing facility. What began as a small 1200 sq. ft. shop, maintaining two race cars, has grown into a 30,000 sq. ft. state-of-the-art performance tuning, racing and service facility located in (Orange County) Santa Ana, California. The staff's experience, attention to detail, and passion are what make GMG the choice of professionals and enthusiasts world wide. Whether you want to maximize the performance of your street car, or race wheel-to-wheel on both amateur and professional racing series across North America, GMG’s reputation for service and quality is unmatched. Learn more at www.gmgracing.com
Spyder was founded by avid skier and outdoor athlete David Jacobs. He rose to world-class rankings as a competitive skier, and stayed connected to the sport he loves by coaching, designing related products, and building one of the most powerful brands in the industry. His dedication to the sport of skiing and the Spyder brand is as inspiring as it is intriguing. Spyder's growth exploded over the turn of the century, and the company is now the largest ski-specialty brand in the world. David has recently discovered the adrenaline rush in racing classic Formula One cars, finding success - not surprisingly - in this new pastime. For a man who's thrived on sports, technology, and professional advancement, the world is sure to see David go a few more times around the track. Learn more at www.spyder.com
About The Thermal Club
The Thermal Club is the premier private motorsports facility in the world. In addition to 4.5 miles of members-only racetrack, the Club facilities include a fully amenitized Clubhouse and Village unrivaled in the motorsports world. All 4.5 miles of our exquisite racetrack are designed to push both amateurs and professionals to their limit, giving members the thrill of driving at peak performance amidst the endless desert skies. Featuring three different private circuit configurations, trackside villas, a motorsport village with a state-of-the-art clubhouse, tuning shop, a fuel island, as well as member storage garages, The Thermal Club will bring the country club lifestyle to Southern California’s diverse car culture. More information can be found at www.thethermalclub.com.
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Photo credit: GMG Racing