James Sofronas said he’s taking it “one race at a time” in his return to the wheel this weekend at Circuit of The Americas.
The GMG Racing team owner/driver, who missed last month’s season-opener at Sonoma Raceway due to an off-season shoulder surgery, is debuting a customer’s Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo in the new-for-2021 GT America powered by AWS series.
It marks Sofronas’ first experience in the Italian manufacturer’s mid-engined car, which has been acquired from GT World Challenge Europe championship-winning outfit FFF Racing Team.
“I have a client who is a silent, behind-the-scenes kind of guy who bought the car,” Sofronas told Sportscar365. “He wants me to coach him and help him with the car in the next 6-12 months.
“He can’t drive it now. He’s busy and with COVID and he said, ‘Why don’t you drive it, go sort it, have some fun.’
“Hopefully by the time he’s ready we can do some co-driving with it in Am-Am or see how it goes.”
Sofronas topped the time sheets in Friday’s opening GT America session.
When asked to compare the Huracan GT3 Evo to its Super Trofeo counterpart, which he has previous experience in, Sofronas said the GT3 variant is “a lot more composed.”
“With the chassis and the brakes and the aero and suspension, it’s way more refined,” he said.
“Obviously you’re going slower down the straightaway but this really makes you focus on your corner entries and maintaining speeds.
“I like it. It’s very similar to the Audis, which I have a lot of experience in.
“Mid-engine cars are amazing. I have to adjust my style as I’ve been used to the Porsche the last few years. So I’m still getting used to it.”
GMG’s foray with Lamborghini in the GT3 ranks comes as the team prepares to break ground on a brand-new 25,000 square-foot facility at the Thermal Club this summer.
Sofronas said he’s partnered with Lamborghini factory driver and FFF team manager Andrea Caldarelli, who is racing in Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS this year with K-PAX Racing.
“Andrea wants to get more involved in the States and Thermal [Club] continues to grow and my reach extends to different manufacturers who want to have a presence out there,” he said.
“I said, ‘Hey Andrea, let’s partner up. We’ll get the car from you, my client will buy it, and it gives you the presence that you can speak to one of your cars being in the States and build it from there.’
“Partnering with manufacturers and having a presence at Thermal [is important] because that place continues to grow.
“Guys buy cars like I buy shoes. It’s all about what’s the right brand and fit for a car and these guys have no problem buying GT3 cars out there.
“We have a history with [Lamborghini North America’s] Chris Ward and enjoy their product and support.”
Sofronas ‘Sucking Up the Pain’ in Racing Return
The 52-year-old Californian is back behind the wheel two months ahead of schedule after undergoing shoulder replacement surgery earlier this year.
“The doctor said it would be five months before I can race and it’s only been three,” Sofronas said.
“I’ve been living at the physical therapist every day for the last three months, knowing that if I’m diligent with my physical therapy I can get back in.
“COTA is a great track and I was thinking, ‘Hey if I can test it and the shoulder is OK, then great.’
“It hurts. But I’m not going to damage it. I’m just going to suck it up.”
When asked if he will contest additional SRO America races with the Lamborghini this year, Sofronas said he’ll likely do a “handful” of events and hasn’t ruled out GTWC America outings as well.
“We’re not going for the season championship,” he said. “I’d like to do some GT World Challenge but the pit stops, I can’t get in and out fast enough because of my shoulder.
“This is me just working my way up, getting my body back into shape. When I’m well enough to get in and out of a car in three seconds, then I’ll consider that.
“Right now we’ll take this race one at a time.”