Shift Up Now Athletes Michele Abbate, Sarah Montgomery and Loni Unser successfully kicked off the 2021 World Racing League (WRL) season driving for Round 3 Racing at Barber Motorsports Park.
Unser joined teammates Mike Gilbert and Mo Dadkhah in the No. 601 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Boxter. The trio earned a third-place podium finish in the GP2 class after Saturday’s nine-hour endurance race on the 16-turn, 2.38-mile road course.
Gilbert took the wheel to start the race and handed the car to 23-year-old Unser on lap 57. She drove a strong 3.5-hour stint, keeping the car clean and navigating six cautions, then gave the drivers seat to Dadkhah on lap 147. Dadkhah set the team’s fastest lap of the race on lap 255 and secured the podium finish.
Close behind, the No. 604 Sentinel Porsche Boxter driven by Abbate, Christian Maloof and James Candelaria finished fifth. The team drove a clean race and credited the crew for carefully-executed pit stops.
The No. 702 Hagerty Porsche Cayman entry of Montgomery, Brad McCall and Buz McCall gained two positions on the first lap. Montgomery fought her way up to sixth but a battery issue cost the team six full laps. The 26-year-old did her best to lay down quick laps in the remainder of her stint before handing the car over to Buz McCall. Unfortunately, contact with the barrier at the exit of turn 14 ended the team’s weekend early.
Sunday, March 7th capped off the WRL weekend with a seven-hour endurance race for the Round 3 Racing entries in the GP2 field.
Again, the No. 601 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Boxter, driven by Unser, Gilbert and Dadkah, had the strongest run and earned a fourth-place finish.
Dadkhah ran the opening stint and drove the car into the fourth position. Unser took over with four hours remaining on the race clock. She kept the car in podium contention through back-to-back red flag periods, then handed the wheel to Gilbert to finish out the effort.
“This weekend was amazing because of the Round 3 Racing crew,” said Unser. “We came back from a motor swap to get that third place yesterday. That felt like a win, to still be able to challenge our competitors out there. It was a hard fight until the end and unfortunately it didn’t pan out for another podium today, but I know that we will come back stronger and better than ever at Mid-Ohio.”
Just as the day before, the No. 604 Sentinel Porsche Boxter driven by Abbate, Maloof and Candelaria finished two spots behind, this time in sixth place. The trio started in eighth with Candelaria behind the wheel. He advanced to fifth early, which Abbate was able to hold onto throughout her stint. Maloof drove the last stint of the day for the team and brought home a six-place finish.
Round 3 Racing will head to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course with four entries for the next round of the WRL championship, featuring two eight-hour races on April 9-11, 2021.