BMWs had wins and podium finishes in the GT4 America and TC America races at NOLA Motorsports Park. With heavy rain on Saturday, the first race of the GT4 America series had to be postponed and ultimately moved to Sunday, while the second race was postponed until a later date. The TC America series got their first race completed on Saturday before the rain started, and also held their second race on Sunday.
The BMW M4 GT4s performed well in the single GT4 America race. In qualifying, the #51 Auto Technic M4 GT4 was second in the Silver class behind the #34 Conquest Racing Mercedes-AMG GT4, while the #36 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 was on pole in the Am class. The #82 BimmerWorld M4 GT4 was the fastest BMW in the Pro-Am class in fifth, but were just a half-second off the pole time of the #24 Heart of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
At the race start, Auto Technic driver Zac Anderson got out in front and handed it over to co-driver John Capestro-Dubets (JCD) while in the lead. JCD had a gap built of around three seconds to the second place #34 Mercedes, but lost that gap when a late race caution bunched up the cars. When the green flag dropped again with seven minutes left, the top three cars battled it out for position and the #51 BMW ultimately came out on top, but by the thinnest of margins. They crossed the line just 0.004 seconds ahead of the Mercedes. “This has been years in the making,” said Zac Anderson after the race. “AutoTechnic prepared an incredibly fast machine. We have been the best BMW in this series for a while now. It’s incredible to race with JCD and to get my first overall and Silver win.”
In the Am class, the #36 BimmerWorld Racing M4 GT4 of James Clay and Charlie Postins won from pole, but it wasn’t an easy win as both drivers had some great battles going on with other Am competitors during the course of the race. “It’s a great re-start to our year,” said James Clay. “Sonoma was a difficult track for our BMW, so it’s great to be able to come to this track that is good for us and grab a top result. We need more of these this year and I’m confident we will get them.” BimmerWorld also had the highest-placed BMW in the Pro-Am class, with Tyler McQuarrie and James Walker, Jr. finishing on the podium in third behind a pair of Aston Martins.
In TC America, Honda easily won both races in the TCX classes. There’s clearly a balance of performance (BoP) issue between the Honda Civic Type-R and the BMW M2 CS, which is odd since SRO used the NOLA circuit to test the cars for BoP equalization. Somebody got something wrong, because the Hondas just drove away from the BMWs in the NOLA races, setting lap times that were over two seconds faster than the fastest BMW. Honda finished one-two of course, but Rooster Hall Racing driver Colin Garrett finished third in race one after initially falling back and was followed in fourth by Lucas Catania. In the TC class, MINI JCW TEAM driver Christian Perocarpi finished third. Teammate P.J. Groenke finished third in the TCA class in his MINI.
Race two was more of the same, with the two Hondas pulling away in TCX, though one of them had an issue late in the race, which allowed Colin Garrett to finish second in his BMW, followed once again by Lucas Catania. In the second race, the fastest lap of the Honda was around 2.7 seconds quicker than the fastest lap of a BMW. In the TC class, MINI JCW TEAM driver Clay Williams finished on the podium in third.
The next race for the GT4 America and TC America series will be at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on May 19th-21st. —David Haueter
[Photos by SRO]