Jacob Ruud in the #81 Classic BMW M2 CS Racing took two overall wins in the first two North American races for the car in the SRO America season opener at Sonoma Raceway on March 6–7. BMW racer Sean Quinlan also scored a class win for the marque, winning the GT4 class in the first-ever GT Challenge race in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4.
BMW racers ran in eight races over the course of the weekend, including two each in four SRO series. The event was run with no spectators.
Quinlan’s win came in the first race on Saturday, a 40-minute sprint in the new GT Challenge series for GT3 and GT4 cars (GT2 cars are also eligible, but none ran at Sonoma). Quinlan led the GT4 class for the entire race. He finished ahead of Robb Holland in the #99 Mustang GT4. Phil Bloom in the #11 Classic BMW M4 GT4 finished fifth in class. In the Sunday race, Holland won, with Bloom second and Quinlan third.
Ruud’s pair of wins came in the TC races. The M2 CS Racing runs in a new class, TCX; the three M2 CS Rs on hand were the only cars in the class. Tom McCarthy in the #27 Classic BMW car and Roy Block in #5 KMW Motorsports car were second and third in class both days. The M2 CS Rs are much quicker than the TC class winners; Saturday winner Eric Powell and Sunday winner Kevin Boehm, both in Honda Civic Type Rs, were over three seconds a lap slower than Ruud’s winning M2 CS R. There were several M240iRs in the TC class; the best finishes by the car, that had dominated the class until late in the 2020 season, were Toby Grahovec, finishing second in the #26 Classic BMW M240iR on Saturday, and Austen Smith in the #51 AutoTechnic M240iR, finishing sixth in class on Sunday. A pair of Minis ran in the TCA class in the TC races; the Mini JCW team’s Mark Pombo finished second in both races, with Clay Williams in the second Mini finishing fourth on Saturday and third on Sunday. The TCA wins on both days went to Jesse Love in a Toyota 86.
The M4 GT4 runners in the GT4 SprintX class, where two drivers share the car in 60-minute races, had a challenging weekend at Sonoma. Both races were dominated by Matt Travis and Jason Hart in the Nolasport Porsche 718 Cayman GT4. The best BMW finishers on Saturday were Sean Quinlan and Greg Liefooghe, sixth overall and third in the Pro-Am class in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4, Bill Auberlen and James Walker, seventh overall and fourth in the Pro-Am class in the #34 BimmerWorld M4 GT4, and Tim Barber and Cole Ciraulo, eighth overall and third in the Silver class in the #22 CCR Racing/Team TFB M4 GT4. James Clay and Nick Galante had a strong run in the #36 BimmerWorld M4 GT4, with Clay running second overall early in the race, but a penalty for an unsafe release during a pit stop set them back. On Sunday, Quinlan and Liefooghe finished ninth overall and sixth in Pro-Am, and Barber and Ciraulo were fifteenth overall and fourth in Silver.
Michael Dinan and Robby Foley in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 finished third in the Pro class in the ninety-minute Fanatec GT World Challenge America race on Saturday. They had run in third and fourth overall much of the way until they were caught up in a late-race incident that dropped them to ninth, although they remained third in class. On Sunday, the Turner car started from the back of the pack and moved up to finish eighth overall and fourth in the Pro class. The overall and Pro wins on both days went to Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper in the #3 KPAX Racing Lamborghini Huracan GT3.
SRO America runs again at Circuit of the Americas on April 30 through May 2.—Brian Morgan
[Photos of Ruud M2 CSR, Cameron M4 GT4, and BimmerWorld #34 M4 GT4 courtesy SRO America. Photo of Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 courtesy BMW Motorsport.]