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Voelker: PPM’s Sports Car Switch “Wildly Succesful”

PPM is hoping to cap off its first year in sports car racing with a strong run at Vallelunga…

Photo: PPM

Precision Performance Motorsports team manager Sunny Voelker says the team’s first season in sports car racing already ranks as a success and hopes to add to that this weekend by bringing home a trophy from the Lamborghini World Final at Vallelunga.

The China Grove, North Carolina-based operation made the switch from NASCAR to the Lamborghini Super Trofeo North America series this year with a pair of Lamborghini Huracan Super Trofeo entries for Shinya Michimi and Brandon Gdovic in the Pro class and Martin Barkey and Shea Holbrook in the Am category.

The team also debuted its Lamborghini Huracan GT3 machine in Pirelli World Challenge and the recent California 8 Hours at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca.

Voelker said the switch from the NASCAR Xfinity Series to GT racing was a big one, but the opportunity to run at the front of the grid while learning a new category of motorsports has made the move both worthwhile and rewarding.

“I think the season has been wildly succesful for us,” she told Sportscar365.

“Honestly, to come into this as a new team with equipment that we weren’t familiar with initially, we had to invest a lot of time and energy to work through that.

“We hired new people and brought together a historically NASCAR crew, sports car guys, and some fly-ins, and all of those things have to come together just right.

“We were lucky that we’ve had really good chemistry with our drivers. We have a really strong staff, and I think that in itself is an accomplishment.

“The fact that we’ve had success on track, we’ve had three poles, we’ve had a win, and at the same time we’ve been trying to take baby steps with the GT3, it’s a lot going on.

“It’s year one, we’re in it for the long haul, and we tried to approach it conservatively. That said, you have to perform on track.

“Team owner Rick Gdovic is very happy with the way things have gone and I’m very happy with the way things have gone so far.”

The Lamborghini World Final marks the first time the team has competed overseas, but Voelker said the team has been leaning on its staff, Lamborghini, and fellow competitors to help learn on the fly.

“The logistics have been pretty easy for us because Lamborghini does a good job with the third party company they use,” she said. “Getting the team over here wasn’t a big challenge.

“We all tried to come over a little bit early to get acclimated to the time change. Of course you run into issues where not everything is the same, like the power and the nitrogen.

“Everything is a little bit different, but we worked with some of the other teams in the paddock who were over here last year. We were prepared.

“There are times you run around, you forget where the Italian hardware store is, but you make do!

“I think some of the competition rules are a little bit different. The starts and the restarts are completely opposite from what we’re used to, but they a good job.

“They educate the drivers at the drivers’ meeting and we had a separate North American team manager meeting, so they’ve been on top of it. We haven’t had any real surprises.”

Although the weekend at Vallelunga has not gone to plan so far, a testing crash on Tuesday eliminated the Pro class entry of Michimi and Gdovic that entered the weekend in contention for the championship, Voelker said the goal is to cap off the season with a strong result for Holbrook and Barkey in the remaining car.

“We’re very excited,” she said. “For Shea and Martin, the reason we did the test on Tuesday was just because they had never been here.

“We didn’t know very much, we didn’t have any data or anything else that we normally would have to help prepare our drivers before we go to a new track.

“That was the biggest thing. But they got used to the track quickly. I’m excited about the World Final races.

“I want to see Shea and Martin on the podium. There’s nothing we can do about the No. 146. That’s a shame and a huge disappointment that’s hard to process, but it is what it is.

“But Shea and Martin have been fast all year and I feel like they have unfinished business.

“I really want to see them and the whole team get a trophy competing against the other cars from around the world. That’s exciting in itself.

Ryan Myrehn is an Indianapolis-based journalist and sportscaster, covering IMSA and Pirelli World Challenge. Myrehn, a graduate of DePauw University, is also the host of Sportscar365's “Double Stint” Podcast.

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