A successful AMR weekend in GT America from Sonoma

Sunday, April 02, 2023


The second round of the GT America Series from Sonoma Raceway in California this weekend indeed proved itself to be another interesting affair as this time, seven Aston Martin Racing Vantage GT4 powered drivers took to the grid for two, forty-minute races.

After the confines of a street circuit last time out in St Petersburg, the wide expanse of the Sonoma circuit of course brought its own issues for the series that is made up of strictly bronzed ranked drivers in a split grid of GT3 and GT4 machinery.

With so many Astons populating the field of twenty-two starters, it was again to be the #99 Porsche of Rob Holland who would have both the pace and determination to spoil the Aston Martin party.

Despite the early afternoon start on Saturday for race 1, the temperature wasn’t there as clouds again loomed large over the circuit but at least the chance of more rain was by now much reduced as Todd Coleman lead the charge against Holland from his P2 starting position. Closely followed by Ross Chouest in the #50 Chouest Povoledo Aston, it would be a long continuous list of Aston Martins through Elias Sabo in his #8 Flying Lizard car in fourth, Jason Bell in the #2 Flying Lizard car in fifth, Gray Newell in his #25 Heart of Racing car in sixth, Tim Savage in his late entered #009 TRG car in eighth and finally Paul Kiebler with his #77 TR3 entered AMR in tenth.

With Holland retaining the lead at the start, it was again Bell who made the early moves moving up to P3 and then second as Coleman was forced into an error in the opening laps. First race of the year for Sabo quickly got him the attention of Race Control as he went beyond the limits of the track once too often for their liking as Savage quickly found his racing feet to make hay whilst the GT3 leaders were passing them by.

More pressure from this time Chouest onto the #69 car of Coleman saw the #50 car get their chance to move up to third as the race enter its final ten minutes but at least this race would be able to run in its entirety without safety intervention.

With Holland again claiming the top honours in class, the remaining steps of the grid were filled by the boots of Jason Bell in second and Ross Chouest in third to add to their podium finishes at St Petersburg. Coleman was fourth, Sabo fifth, Newell sixth, Savage ninth and Kiebler rounded this out in eleventh.

Sundays second race was ran in the cool(er) of the morning with again Holland commanding the class pole position with Bell again alongside him, all thanks to their fastest laps of Saturday. Chouest was third, Coleman fourth, Newell fifth, Sabo sixth, Savage tenth but this time with Jon Branam aboard the #77 car in last place – thanks to him not actually competing in race 1.

A somewhat delayed cum Safety Car start for race 2 as a GT3 car stopped on track during their two warm up laps but things quickly got down to racing for the concluding forty minutes of the weekend.

Coleman’s close attention to Chouest at the start did allow both Holland and Bell to gap the chasing pack but pretty soon, all were nose to tail again by the end of the first ten minutes although Coleman had been on something of a charge to suddenly find himself challenging for the lead.

Unfortunately for him, that would be where it all went wrong as side-to-side contact was made between the #69 and the #99 which resulted in front suspension damage for the Porsche and a drive through penalty for Coleman.

Halfway through and it was the turn of Branam to go on a charge having come from stone last to also contest for the lead – which he assumed when Coleman was forced to pit to serve his post incident penalty. That obviously moved everybody up one place, but the drama hadn’t yet finished as Bell was seen nosed into a concrete wall coming out of turn 7 and was going nowhere.

With just six minutes of the race remaining, the resulting Safety Car effectively ended proceedings there and then with Branam eventually taking the chequered flag unopposed with Sabo second and Chouest locking out the GT4 class podium in third for his second of the weekend. Savage was a decent fourth and ahead of Newell at the end after a disappointing race for him with Coleman rounding things off in eight.

The next round of the series will be from Nola Motorsport Park at the end of April.

Photo credits – GT America / Teams / social media
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