Both BMW teams competing in the Fanatec GT World Challenge America championship had great results (mostly) in the penultimate rounds of the series at Sebring. The BimmerWorld team with drivers Bill Auberlen and Chandler Hull finished second in the Pro class in both races with the #94 M4 GT3, while the ST Racing team with drivers Samantha Tan and Neil Verhagen finished second in class in the first race in the #38 M4 GT3.
Chandler Hull qualified the #94 car second overall and in the Pro class in the qualifying session for the first race, but Bill Auberlen could only qualify tenth overall and fourth in class in the second qualifying session. Auberlen commented on social media that a left front suspension piece had begun to fall apart toward the end of Hull’s qualifying session. They weren’t allowed to fix it before qualifying, so Auberlen drove it with an inch of play in the suspension just to get a time in.
In the first race with the suspension fixed, Hull managed to hold onto second position before handing off to Auberlen, who came out in third overall and second in class behind a Porsche after the pit stops. He moved up one spot to finish second overall and in the Pro class behind the Wright Motorsport Porsche of Jan Heylen and Madison Snow. Snow, of course, also drives the Paul Miller Racing BMW M4 GT3 in IMSA but was called in to finish out the SRO season in the Porsche when usual driver Charlie Luck was injured.
The ST Racing team of Samantha Tan and Neil Verhagen also had a strong first race, even after having to start from the back due to a technical infraction in qualifying and Tan having to serve a drive-thru penalty for jumping the start. Works driver Verhagen passed several cars after taking over to work his way into second in the Pro-Am class behind the winning #120 Porsche, setting the fastest lap of the race in the process. He was the only driver to drop under the 2:00 mark with a 1:59.775.
Getting a second-place result in race two was a little more work for the BimmerWorld team since they had to start much farther back after the issue with the suspension in Auberlen’s qualifying session. Auberlen started ninth overall but worked his way up several spots before handing over to Hull, who drove to another second-place finish behind the same Wright Motorsport Porsche that won race one. The ST Racing duo of Tan and Verhagen initially took an overall race win after stellar drives by both, but had that win taken away after the car failed its post-race inspection. ST Racing announced after the race that they were appealing the ruling and “look forward to presenting the data that shows that the #38 raced within the technical regulations.”
The next and final round of the GT World Challenge America season will take place at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 5th-7th, as part of the Intercontinental GT Challenge 8 Hour. The Team WRT fleet of BMW M4 GT3’s with works drivers, including Valentino Rossi, is expected to compete in that race as well. —David Haueter
[Photos courtesy SRO]