Early success for AMR teams in opening rounds of GT4 America

Monday, March 08, 2021


Any well-attended GT4 series is usually guaranteed to produce some highly eventful and entertaining motorsport and the SRO GT4 America Series was certainly no exception to that line of thought as they kicked off their domestic season at the Sonoma Raceway in California at the weekend.

With another sizeable grid of thirty-two cars from eight manufacturers, the six Aston Martin Racing V8 Vantage GT4 runners certainly didn’t appear to make the grid imbalanced with their attendance as those six were a mix of returning teams, teams that had swapped to the AMR for the new season and teams rather at this level for the first time. If any were concerned about the vacuum left by the Dinan/Foley machine of last season – there was no cause for concern!!

Going into Saturday’s opening race of the year left the #15 Bsport Racing car of Kenton Koch and Bryan Putt on something off the back foot as practice damage and electrical gremlins left them with not as much track time as possible whilst the family run and raced Dexter Racing team produced something of a marvel in their first Qualifying session placing their #062 car on the second row of the grid!

With the Am drivers taking the start, it was fortunately a clean start a clean start going into turns 1 and 2 on cold tyres that set things up for the more experienced drivers in the pack. Early advances from Paul Terry in his WR Racing car had his #59 up towards the front just behind the #062 car just ahead of the pit stops. Jason Bell running in his blue #2 GMG Racing car finished just ahead of Putt’s #15 car at the pit window whilst racing newcomer Gray Newell was busy learning on the job as he raced only his second ever race in his Heart of Racing AMR GT4 that weekend.

With the Pro’s now in it was a simple race to the flag with whatever rubber their partners had left them on this particularly abrasive track circuit. Last years AMR Academy Driver Kenton Koch was now making significant progress through the field as the Nolasport Porsche made good its exit from the front of the pack.

As the clock hit the hour mark, the race had witnessed some incredible driving as the #062 Dexter brothers driven car had not only claimed a win in its Silver Class but had also claimed second overall in their first race with the Aston. That was backed up with Koch/Putt who also claimed their first silverware of the year with a P2 in Pro-Am.

Sunday morning’s second race of the weekend was something of a chilly affair with track temperatures only just hitting double digits as the grid formed. Starting slots had already been determined in Saturday’s Qualifying sessions and this time had the Pro drivers starting.

This time the #59 WR Racing car of Brandon Davis would be starting as the lead AMR in P3 with the #00 Notlad Racing and #15 Bsport cars in P4 and P5 respectively. The #062 Dexter would this time be starting from P9 whilst Andrew Davis and Ian James both got their first run outs in the Series in P10 and P14 for them.

A cold track and cold tyres left some struggling for grip as the pack made its way up and round the first few corners with Davis losing out for position the most up front but saw early gains for both Pat Gallagher in the #00 and Koch in the #15 as they ended up battling each other hard for P3 overall hilst Davis in the #59 car had his mirrors full of the #062 Dexter car again. As the pit window opened, the Dexter car made a choice to pit early as running silver/silver, both drivers were of equal ability whilst the majority of the Pro-Am cars would always favour their Pro drivers on track for as much as possible.

By the end of the pit window, the #15 car was heading the AMR bunch in P4 with the #59 just behind. That move by the Dexter team to pit early had put them back into the lead of the Silver class (just) in P8 overall as the remaining Aston’s circulated in P11 to P14 overall.

As the hour ticked away, Terry has climbed to P3 overall – again with the Dexter car full in his mirrors in P4 as technical troubles were to strike down the #00 Notlad car of Matt Dalton which forced him to find safe refuge on the trackside for an early DNF to the year but at the chequered flag it was to be another podium double for the AMR runners with the #59 WR Racing crew claiming P3 overall in Pro-Am and the Dexter brothers claiming a class P2 to add to their class win of yesterday.

Some terrific action to be watched around the technically demanding circuit of Sonoma where ‘natural pecking orders’ are still to be determined as crews look to find their optimum balance. The Dexter team have come out fighting and look more than comfortable within their car and at this level of competition. It was also good to see Paul Terry has come back fighting too with his change of discipline from single driver in Sprint to that of Sprint X with co-driver Brandon Davis.

Gray Newell, although we know his name association with the Heart of Racing team had never raced a GT4 car until this weekend – his progression as the event timetable rolled through as progressive and in the right direction too as he took advice from his driver coach and IMSA HoRT GT3 racer Ian James.

The Series now moves onto the second round of the season from the Circuit of the America’s at the end of April and from what we have seen this weekend – it will be good!

Photo credits – GT4 America / CSJ Motorsport / Teams
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