BMWs were quick in every class running in the SRO Americas event at Virginia International Raceway on June 5–6. The marque’s pace netted two overall wins, an additional five class wins, and a number of podium finishes. At the same time, the event was a rough one for the Mini JCW Team, with accidents for two Minis bringing out race-ending red flags in both Touring Car series races.
As always, the series ran two races in each of four different classes. Sean Quinlan in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4, the only BMW in the 40-minute GT America races, scored flag-to-flag GT4 class wins in both races. The battle for the lead was closer in race two, where he fought off Mercedes racer Chris Cagnazzi and then Audi racer Alex Welsh for the win. Quinlan set the fastest lap in the class in race one. That race was ended early after Aston Martin racer Matt Dalton crashed, leading to a long yellow and then to a red flag because of the time required for track repair. Dalton was transported to the hospital; SRO reported that he was alert and conscious.
The overall wins for BMW came in the two red-flag shortened Touring Car races, where Jacob Ruud in the #81 M2 CS Racing extended his win streak for the season to six overall and TCX class victories. He pulled away from the pack at each start and at each restart after a caution period, dominating the series’ two sprints. Steve Streimer in the #30 Hard Motorsport M2 CS R was second to Ruud in both races, with the M2 CS Rs of Chris Walsh and Samantha Tan third in races one and two respectively. Auto Technic’s Austen Smith in the #51 M240iR contributed two more of the weekend’s class wins for BMW as he took the TC class in both races ahead of his teammate Tom Capizzi in car #52.
Mini’s best in the TCA class was sixth in race one for Derek Jones and fifth for Mike LaMarra in race two. Mark Pombo in the Mini JCW team’s #60 TC class Mini went into a race-ending rollover in race one; like Dalton in the GT Challenge race, he was transported to the hospital. He was conscious and communicating after the incident. Jones’ Mini went off course at high speed in race two, taking out a tire wall and ending the race. Jones was able to walk away from the incident. Ruud and Smith set the fastest laps in their classes in both races.
The M4 GT4s were quick in the 60-minute, two driver, GT4 SprintX races. Stevan McAleer took the lead early in the Silver class #11 M4 GT4 that he shared with Toby Grahovec. The duo led until the handling went away late in the race. They finished second in class, with Tim Barber and Cole Ciraulo in the #22 CCR Racing/Team TFB M4 GT4 finishing third. Greg Liefooghe and Sean Quinlan in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 (not the same car that Quinlan runs in GT Challenge) finished third overall and second in Pro-Am just behind the Matt Travis-Jason Hart Porsche Cayman. In race two, John Capestro Dubets and Tom Capizzi in the #52 Pro-Am class Auto Technic M4 GT4 led early, and were contenders until they fell back late in the race. McAleer and Grahovec in the #11 Classic BMW car led an M4 GT4 podium sweep in the Silver class, with Barber and Ciraulo second and Jon Miller and Chandler Hull in the #94 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 third. The best finishing Pro-Am class M4 GT4 in the second race was the #36 BimmerWorld car driven by James Clay and Nick Galante.
Robby Foley and Michael Dinan in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 finished a strong second overall and second in the Pro class in the first of two ninety-minute GT World Challenge America Races, behind the Andrea Caldarelli/Jordan Pepper K-Pax Racing Lamborghini, scoring its fifth win in five races so far this season. In the second race, Pepper went off course early in the Lamborghini; after a pit stop for a four tire change they returned, but their streak was over. The win went to Mikael Grenier and Russell Ward in a Mercedes-AMG GT3. Foley and Dinan finished sixth overall and third in class. They were third overall until a brief late-race off-course excursion by Dinan set them back.
After VIR, the series takes a break until the August 27–29 Road America event, except for the GT America racers, who will run in Nashville on August 6–8.—Brian Morgan
[Photos courtesy SRO Motorsports Group America.]