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Weekly Racing Roundup (1.20.20)

Report from SRO America Winter Series at Thermal Club plus news from the past week…

Photo: SRO America

Second SRO Winter Series Round Takes Place

The second round of SRO America’s Winter Invitational series took place at The Thermal Club in sunny California over the weekend with a variety of cars in action between the GT and TC divisions.

Stu Frederick earned the GT2 class win in Race 1 driving a Porsche 911 GT2 RS Clubsport, edging Mike LaFever’s GMG Racing Porsche by 1.145 seconds.

Dimitri Novikov then won Race 2 in a Rearden Racing Audi R8 LMS GT2 while LaFever once again finished second, while his teammate Karl Leinsing completed the podium in both contests.

Conrad Grunewald was a double GT3 class victor in his Ferrari 488 GT3, followed by youngster Steven Aghakhani and SRO America veteran David Askew on each occasion.

GT2 winner Novikov, who is expected to take part in a partial Pirelli GT4 America campaign in 2020, also took category honors in Rearden Racing’s debut outing with the Aston Martin Vantage GT4.

CJ Moses swept the pair of TC races driving a Honda Civic Type R TCR, with Kevin Boehm’s unclassified Honda Civic finishing second overall in both events.

TC America competitor Tom Capizzi was third in Race 1, while Rearden Racing team owner Lara Tallman completed the podium on Sunday behind Moses and Boehm.

The races took place on the 3.1-mile layout at The Thermal Club after SRO America utilized the 2.5-mile configuration for its first event in December.

The inaugural Winter Invitational series concludes on the 4.0-mile layout on Feb. 7-9.

Photo: GT World Challenge Asia

News & Notes

***Ian Morgan has replaced Dan Walmsley as McLaren Automotive’s director of motorsport on an interim basis. According to a spokesperson for the manufacturer, Morgan will “oversee the functions of the McLaren Customer Racing business and spearhead the leadership team for the 2020 season” following Walmsley’s exit from the company in December. Morgan was previously McLaren’s chief GT engineer and also worked for the Red Bull F1 team before that.

***United Autosports has signed John Schauerman to race alongside Wayne Boyd in one of its Michelin Le Mans Cup LMP3 entries this year, with Schauerman joining the team from Cool Racing. The pair will race one of United’s new Ligier JS P320s in the ELMS support series.

***European Le Mans Series regular Oregon Team is to step back from the LMP3 class after three seasons. The Italian squad, which ran a Norma M30 Nissan, is set to join Lamborghini Super Trofeo Europe with two cars in 2020.

***Franky Cheng Congfu and Sun Jingzu will switch to Porsche machinery in GT World Challenge Asia but remain at Absolute Racing. The Chinese Pro-Am duo raced in Absolute’s Audis for the past three years but will switch to a Porsche 911 GT3 R for 2020.

***The Mercedes-AMG GT4 will make its Australian GT debut this year in the hands of experienced Queensland-based racer Mark Griffith, who has signed up for the full season. Griffith raced a Ginetta G55 GT4 and a Mercedes-AMG GT3 part-time in 2019.

***New Malaysian team Legacy Racing has committed to GT World Challenge Asia with a previous-gen Mercedes-AMG GT3 (pictured, above). The team, run by Tedco Racing, previously competed in national championships but will now enter the pan-Asian series’ Am class with Leona Chin and Tengku Djan Ley.

***Alessio Picariello has been named a Porsche Motorsport Asia Pacific Selected Driver and will receive support, coaching and funding towards his season. He’ll be coached by former Porsche factory driver Sascha Maassen and he will shadow Porsche customer teams at next week’s Liqui-Moly Bathurst 12 Hour.

***Munich-based Team GT will run two McLaren 570S GT4s in the DTM Trophy, the new DTM support series aimed at GT4-level machinery but not officially licensed as an SRO Motorsports Group GT4 franchise. Team GT is yet to announce its drivers.

***Zakspeed has retained Jimmy Eriksson for its ADAC GT Masters program with a Mercedes-AMG GT3. The Swedish former GP2 driver will share the car with 2013 Masters champion Daniel Keilwitz, who split his time between Zakspeed and the PROpeak Performance Aston Martin squad last year.

***Brands Hatch will remain on the GT World Challenge Europe calendar until at least 2022 after a contract extension was agreed last week. The Kent circuit has been a regular fixture on the schedule for several years and will host the Sprint Cup opener for the second consecutive season this year, on May 2-3.

***Lamborghini factory drivers Franck Perera and Dennis Lind will share WPI Motorsport’s Huracan GT3 Evo in British GT with Michael Igoe. Perera will be in the car for all rounds except Snetterton and Silverstone, which clash with the Frenchman’s other racing commitments. WPI is now recognized as an official factory-supported Lamborghini team.

***An exhibition celebrating Ferrari’s success at the 24 Hours of Le Mans has opened at the Ferrari Museum in Maranello. Named ‘Ferrari at 24 Heures du Mans’, the display includes seven decades of Ferrari race cars that have made their mark on Le Mans, including the 488 GTE that won the GTE-Pro class last year and its trophy. The exhibit is open until April 19.

***Construction work has begun on a new pedestrian bridge at the entrance to the Circuit de la Sarthe which will enable Le Mans spectators to pass over a busy section of service road rather than directly cross it. The bridge will be named in honor of Don Panoz.

***RLR MSport is auctioning a rear wing endplate from its Oreca 05 Nissan that caught fire during the 4 Hours of The Bend earlier this month in order to raise money for the Australian bushfire relief effort.

***Ford v Ferrari has been nominated in four categories for the Academy Awards, including for the prestigious Best Picture award. Read our review of the movie here.

Ryan Myrehn and Daniel Lloyd contributed to this report

Jake Kilshaw is a UK-based journalist. He is a graduate of Politics and International Relations.

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