Road America SRO 2021

BMW racers were on a roll at Road America in the August 28–29 SRO Motorsports Group America event. It was an especially good weekend for the M4 GT4 in both GT America and GT4 America competition, with two overall wins and three additional class wins. There were two overall wins in Touring Car America for the M2 CSR and a class win for the M240iR, and an overall win in GT World Challenge America for the M6 GT3.

Bill Auberlen and James Walker in the #34 BimmerWorld car led an M4 GT4 podium sweep in the first GT4 America 60-minute race. Auberlen took over the lead as Toby Grahovec in the leading #11 Classic BMW M4 GT4 that he shared with Stevan McAleer fell back and then exited late in the race with a mechanical problem. The #52 Auto Technic M4 GT4 shared by John Capestro Dubets and Tom Capizzi finished second, and the #36 BimmerWorld car driven by James Clay and Nick Galante finished third; all three were running in the Pro-Am class. Tim Barber and Cole Ciraulo in the #22 CCR Racing/Team TFB M4 GT4 finished sixth overall and second in the Silver class, and the duo of Al Carter/Paul Sparta in the #98 Random Vandals Racing M4 GT4 finished fourth in the Am class.

In the second GT4 America race, Greg Liefooghe in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 performed the exceptionally difficult feat of holding off Bill Auberlen for his entire stint. Liefooghe and Auberlen led a four-car nose-to-tail battle with John Capestro Dubets in the Auto Technic car third and Aston Martin racer Kenton Koch fourth. The battle raged for over half the distance, resuming after a full-course yellow delayed the mid-race pit stop. After the driver change, the Am class McLaren of Ty and Todd Clarke cycled into the lead, only to be reeled in by Sean Quinlan, who had taken over from Liefooghe in the #119 Stephen Cameron car. Quinlan went on to win overall and in Pro-Am, with Capizzi and Capestro Dubets second in #52, Aston Martin racers Brian Putt and Kenton Koch third, and James Walker/Bill Auberlen fourth. Harry Gottsacker and Tyler Maxson, in the #28 ST Racing M4 GT4 for a single race, took the Silver class win with a seventh overall finish. The Random Vandals car spun and collided with a barrier, ending its race.

Quinlan would turn out to score the most wins for BMW over the course of the weekend, adding two GT4 class wins in GT America to his overall win with Liefooghe in GT4 America. Quinlan, in the #119 Stephen Cameron Racing M4 GT4 (which wears the same livery but is not the same car as the M4 GT4 that the team runs in GT4 America) won the class with a ninth overall finish in race one and a fifth overall finish in race two. Race two went to a full-course yellow on the second lap after a number of cars went off course as they got into the oil of a back marker. After all of the cars were removed, barrier repairs remained; they were too serious to allow competition to resume. The checker was thrown on the race, scheduled for 40 minutes, after 32 minutes, with most of the time spent behind the pace car.

The Jason Ruud juggernaut continued in the first of two 40-minute TC America races, with Ruud in the #81 Classic BMW M2 CSR scoring his seventh consecutive overall and TCX class wins ahead of Steve Streimer in the #30 Hard Motorsport M2 CSR and newcomer to the series Stephen Cugliari in the #57 M2 CSR. Austen Smith in the #51 AutoTechnic Racing M240iR won the Touring Car class, and the JCW Mini Team’s Clay Williams finished third in TCA.

In race two, Cugliari broke Ruud’s season-long win streak, taking the lead from Ruud in the first turn and then regaining it when Ruud got by briefly after the end of a caution period, only to be told by stewards that his move was not legal. Cugliari held onto the lead the rest of the way, with Ruud finishing second and Streimer finishing third. Austen Smith finished third in TC, and Williams exited the race as the Mini experienced a technical problem.

Robby Foley and Michael Dinan in the #96 Turner Motorsport M6 GT3 scored their first win of the season in the 90-minute Sunday GT World Challenge America race. Running second near the end, they were poised to take the lead when Russell Ward, who was running first in the #33 Winward Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, had to make a late pit stop for fuel. Dinan and Foley were front runners in the Saturday race until a pit stop infraction set them back to seventh overall, where they finished in a race won by Andrea Caldarelli and Jordan Pepper in the #3 Lamborghini Huracan GT3.

SRO competition resumes on September 17–19 at Watkins Glen.—Brian Morgan

[Photos courtesy SRO Americas.]

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