There were only two M4 GT3s entered in the pair of Fanatec GT World Challenge America races at Road America in Wisconsin this past weekend, but they proved to be the fastest cars on the track and came away with three podium finishes, highlighted by a big win in the Pro-Am class for ST Racing.
We’ve seen throughout this season that the M4 GT3 cars typically race better than they qualify. At Road America, Chandler Hull qualified the #94 BimmerWorld M4 GT3 that he shares with Bill Auberlen in third in the Pro class for race one, behind the #21 Conquest Racing Ferrari 296 GT3 and the #28 RS1 Porsche 911 GT3 R. In Pro-Am, Samantha Tan qualified in sixth, about 1.6 seconds off the pole.
Once race one got underway, the M4 GT3s proved to be more competitive than they were in qualifying, with the straight-line speed of the car proving to be a competitive advantage over the other cars on the long straights of Road America. The M4 GT3 had the fastest overall top speed of any car over the weekend, topping out at 168 mph. With that top speed capability, Chandler Hull was able to stay at the front of the field before handling off to Auberlen, who finished second in the Pro class behind the winning Ferrari.
The #38 ST Racing M4 GT3 was significantly better in the race than in qualifying, with Samantha Tan holding her own before handing off to BMW works driver Neil Verhagen, who worked his way up to second in Pro-Am behind the winning #4 Mercedes that started from the pole.
In race two, it appeared that both BMWs would win their respective classes. Auberlen moved up to second overall and first in the Pro class after the start, while Neil Verhagen moved up to third in the Pro-Am class after starting from fifth. After cycling through pit stops, Chandler Hull and Samantha Tan both put in great stints in their respective cars to run one-two overall, but with just three laps to go the #94 BimmerWorld car suffered a driveline failure that resulted in a heartbreaking DNF.
Samantha Tan wisely let some of the Pro class cars get around her in the closing laps but held the lead in Pro-Am to take the class win, which was the team’s first of the year. “I love coming back and racing in America,” said Verhagen. “I’ve done so much racing in SRO Europe and we use the same tire over there, so I’ve gotten accustomed to how they work. The US tracks are just awesome. They’re no runoff or track limits around here and I love that because you can really push to the absolute edge. The ST Racing crew have done a phenomenal job. That was a nice race car to drive – it was probably one of the better ones I’ve ever had.” ST Racing has been on a roll lately, finishing on the Pro-Am class podium in each of the last four races.
Next up for GT World Challenge America is a pair of races at Sebring International Raceway on the weekend of September 22nd-24th, before heading to Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the finale on the weekend of October 5th-7th. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy SRO]