BMW racers scored three overall wins and multiple class wins in the April 27-28 SRO World Challenge event at Virginia International Raceway. BMWs ran in four different race groups at VIR and MINIs ran in a fifth group; each group ran two separate races, one on Saturday and one on Sunday.
The racing began on Saturday with a win for Johan Schwartz in the #80 Rooster Hall Racing M235iR in the first of the Touring Car group’s two forty-minute sprints. Schwartz held off Toby Grahovec in the #26 Classic BMW M240iR for the win; Rooster Hall’s Steve Streimer rounded out the podium in another M235iR. The race was shortened by a red flag period to remove two damaged cars, and finished under yellow after another car spun and could not be removed in time for a restart.
On Sunday Schwartz took command early in the race, getting by pole sitter Chandler Hull in the #94 BimmerWorld M240iR in the first turn and holding him off for the balance of the race. Moisey Uretsky in the #55 Murillo Racing BMW235iR finished third, completing another BMW podium sweep.
The GT4 America SprintX races, 60-minutes long with a stop for a driver change, included four classes; they were the pro-am and am classes in the national GT4 SprintX series and the pro-am and am classes in the regional GT4 SprintX East series. On Saturday Stevan McAleer and Justin Raphael took the overall and pro-am East wins in the #29 Classic BMW M4 GT4. Marko Radisic and Karl Wittmer in the #22 Precision Driving Tech M4 GT4 finished fifth overall and second in pro-am in Sprint X East. James Clay and Randy Mueller in the #3 Epic Motorsports M4 GT4 won the SprintX East am class with a fourth overall finish, with Clay finishing strong despite running without ABS. Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan in the #19 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 finished third overall and second in the national SprintX class; the class win went to second-overall finishers Jason Hart and Matt Travis in a Porsche 718 Cayman.
Radisic and Wittmer took the pro-am East win in the Sunday GT4 SprintX race, with McAleer and Raphael finishing third. Despite setting the fastest lap in the race, the Clay/Mueller M4 GT4 had to retire with a boost problem. Toby Grahovec and Chris Ohmacht in the #92 Classic BMW M4 GT4 finished second in the national SprintX pro-am class, just ahead of Liefooghe and Quinlan in third. The class win went to Hart and Travis in the Cayman.
In GT4 Sprint, where one driver runs for 50 minutes, Radisic finished fourth in the Am class on Saturday and third on Sunday, while Quinlan finished sixth on Saturday and fourth on Sunday. The overall and Am class wins in both races went to Matthew Fassnacht in a Mercedes-AMG GT GT4.
The Touring Car TCB and Touring Car A classes shared the track for two 40-minute sprints. No BMWs run in TCB, but there are two LAP Motorsport MINI Cooper JCWs in TCA. Nate Norenberg finished third on Saturday and fifth on Sunday in the #60 MINI. He was a podium contender on Sunday until he got a wheel off the track late in race two; he finished fifth with the trunk of his car stuck open. His teammate Mark Pombo in the #59 MINI led early in race one, and was a contender until a puncture took him out. He was also set back by a puncture in race two. The TCA wins in both races went to Nick Wittmer in a Subaru BRZ.
There is one M6 GT3 in the Blancpain GT World Challenge America series, which runs 90-minute races with a driver change. Henry Schmitt and Greg Liefooghe in the #87 Stephen Cameron Racing M6 GT3 exited race one with a brake problem and finished seventh in the Pro-Am class in race two. The wins in both races went to the K-Pax Bentley Continentals.
Despite the at-times bewildering array of classes, the competition in all World Challenge races is both intense and entertaining. The GT4 and Blancpain World Challenge series run again at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park (Mosport) on May 17–19. The Touring Car classes run again at Sonoma Raceway on June 7–9.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy of Brian Morgan.]