BMW teams enjoyed a lot of success at Watkins Glen this past weekend, which was the midpoint of the SRO Motorsport Group America season—a series includes the GT World Challenge, GT4 America, TC America, and GT America championships.
Turner Motorsport has had significant bouts of bad luck this season in both IMSA and SRO championships, but they finally had good luck on their side in the GT World Challenge races at Watkins Glen (there are two races per race weekend in SRO). The Pro class has been dominated by the K-PAX Racing Lamborghinis this year, which employs factory drivers, but Turner Motorsport managed to win the Pro class in the first race with drivers Robby Foley and Michael Dinan when the leading Lamborghini was penalized for contact with the Turner Motorsport M4 GT3, and their second car had a mechanical issue. K-PAX had won the first six races this year and this was the first race that neither car finished on the podium. Foley and Dinan then finished on the podium in third in the second race, which was their fourth podium finish of the season.
BimmerWorld Racing also had a podium finish in GT World Challenge with their M4 GT3 driven by Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull, with a third-place finish in the Pro/Am class in the second race. Hull had a great battle with the Pro class K-PAX Lamborghini and then put pressure on the second-place-finishing Acura through the end of the race to finish in third. It was a great result after they had some issues with the car in the first race that led to the trunk lid coming off, which caused more drag and led to a seventh-place finish.
GT4 America had eight M4 GT4s on the entry among the various classes. Coming into Watkins Glen, the Auto Technic Racing M4 GT3 of John Capestro-Dubets and Tom Capizzi was in third in the Pro/Am class standings and the BimmerWorld duo of James Clay and Charlies Postins was leading the championship in the Am class. Both had successful weekends at Watkins Glen, with the Auto Technic pairing winning the Pro/Am class in the second race after finishing well down the order in the first race. None of the Pro/Am class M4 GT4s had a good first race, as the best result was a seventh-place finish for the BimmerWorld duo of Devin Jones and James Walker, Jr. That car experienced some loss-of-power issues in the first race due to the high heat and humidity, which has been an ongoing problem with the M4 GT4 that will hopefully be rectified with the new model coming next season.
The BimmerWorld duo of James Clay and Charlie Postins had better luck in the Am class, winning both races with the #36 M4 GT4. “More than anything, it’s momentum,” said Clay after the race. “The BimmerWorld guys delivered an awesome car. This is four wins in a row for us, and I think when you can bring the car back clean, and you’re on a roll with performance, it’s just easier to continue that way. That’s what we’ll do.” Another notable performance in the Am class was turned in by the Auto Technic Racing duo of Rob Walker and Alex Filsinger, who finished third in both races.
The TC America features an all-M2-CS Racing TCX class, and there were ten entries at Watkins Glen. Fast Track Racing driver Jacob Ruud is the defending champ from last season and led the championship coming into Watkins Glen. He was in the lead in the first race but suffered a tire puncture that put Colin Garrett of Rooster Hall Racing in the lead. Ruud battled back to get into second in the closing laps but finished behind Garrett who took the win. Ruud was followed in second by Garrett Adams. In race two, Colin Garrett got by Ruud in turn one to initially take the lead, but Ruud regained it to take the win, followed by Lucas Catania in second and Garrett in third.
The Mini JCW Team also had a great weekend in both the TC and TCA classes. Clay Williams took a dominant win in race won in this Mini JCW and held the lead for most of race two, before the car started to fade toward the end and dropped him back to third behind a Honda and a Hyundai. The win in race one was Williams second of the season. “Overall, it was one of the toughest races I had,” said Williams after the race. “We have been developing this car all season and we are still working the bugs out.” In the TCA class, Mini JCW driver Christian Perocarpi won race one.
There are also two BMW M4 GT4s entered in the GT America series, which mixes GT3 and GT4 spec machinery in the shorter sprint races with only one driver per car. Marko Radisic had a strong race two, finishing on the podium in third in his SRQ Motorsports M4 GT4.
The SRO Motorsports Group America championships head to Nashville, Tennessee for races on the streets on the weekend of August 5th-7th. —David Haueter
[Photos by David Haueter and Ingrid Kretschmann]