Longtime sports car competitor Sarah Cattaneo made her return to the cockpit in the Pirelli GT4 America SprintX West series after taking a hiatus from the sport for over a year alongside her longtime co-driver Owen Trinkler for Rearden Racing.
This week in the Pirelli Paddock Pass, Cattaneo tells us about what drew her back to the sport, how her deal with Rearden Racing came together, and more.
What brought you back to racing and to the Pirelli GT4 America series?
“There was a year and a half gap between races. I took all of ’18 off and the beginning of ’19, too. After my 2017 season in another series, I wanted to take some time off.
“After a year, my dad and I got the itch again. We missed the racing. I had just gotten married so I had the year to spend with my husband and be at home, but eventually it was like: now what? So we decided to go racing again.
“We put it together super last minute after the new year. Luckily Rearden Racing was available. [Rearden Racing team owner] Lara [Tallman] is amazing and threw a program together for us.
“My first time getting in the car was during our first race weekend at COTA, so it was very last minute. It’s been a lot of fun being back.”
How have you found the step to GT4 with the Audi R8 LMS GT4?
“Oh my God, so different! It was like learning all over again. Especially after taking so much time off and then jumping into a car that I’ve never driven before, but luckily Owen has been there through everything.
“He’s helped me build my confidence and work with the car to make it more comfortable for me. Obviously it’s not a front-wheel drive ST car!”
Had you only ever driven front-wheel drive cars before?
“Mostly, yes. I have a BMW M3 for club racing, but with all of my pro-level stuff I haven’t had much time to drive it.
“Professional racing, with all the racing and testing, it takes over your life so I haven’t been able to drive it much. So for the most part, yes.
“This is also the first mid-engined car that I’ve driven. And it has downforce, which I’ve never driven with before at all.
“It’s definitely a different feel, a different experience, but it’s been fun. Has it been a learning experience? Absolutely. I’ve got to thank Owen for sticking by me for giving me that confidence and encouragement.”
How long have you and Owen Trinkler been driving together?
“It feels like forever! We first drove together in 2011. Then I think we picked back up in ’14 and did ’14, ’15, ’16, and ’17 together. It’s been a lot!
“His experience has helped me so much. He’s brought so much knowledge over here for me. I’m like: tell me everything!
I’m his biggest fan. I always say he’s the best out there.”
How have you found the series and the SprintX format?
“The difference in going from the two-hour endurance races to the sprint one-hour races, yeah it’s different, but you go all out in your 30 minutes in the car.
“In the longer races, it was more about keeping the car in good condition for the second driver and patience was key.
“The mindset has to change a little bit there, but I like it. It’s fun, it’s different.
“This paddock is awesome. I know quite a few of the people already, but it’s been nice to meet new people.”