Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel earned a second-place finish with teammate Michael Cooper on Sunday, October 3, 2021 for Round 12 of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS at Sebring International Raceway.
Driving the No. 19 Mercedes-AMG GT3 in the Pro/Am class, Vogel and Cooper relied on their pre-testing time from February as they headed into on Thursday and Friday. The duo ran most of Thursday mid-pack as they adjusted the car setup to a lower overall grip.
On Friday morning, they elected to run the optional Bronze driver test, consisting of GT3 and GT4 cars from every race group. Although sometimes challenging to get a clear lap due to out-of-class traffic, Vogel got out ahead of the group, capitalized on the sticker tires with improved grip and completed a few mock-qualifying laps. She ran the fastest lap of the session at approximately three seconds faster than her previous afternoon laps.
Track grip improved even more for Saturday morning’s qualifying session. Vogel earned a sixth-place starting position for that afternoon’s race, with only two-tenths separating her from starting in podium contention.
Vogel had a great start to race one and handed the car over to Cooper in fourth place. Despite having a great pace, he started experiencing handling issues just five laps into his stint, which worsened as the race went on. With four laps to go, Cooper reported that the car was almost unmanageable. Despite trying to hang on, the suspension became fully disconnected and the team had to park the car.
Cooper started Sunday’s race from the sixth position and moved into podium contention almost immediately, handing the car to Vogel in third place, just as a full-course caution came out. At the restart, Vogel made up a position, moving the team into second in class, fifth overall. She battled during some green-flag laps and held onto the second-place finish when the checkered flag fell.
“It was a proud moment to cross that line in second after struggling with my own pace all weekend,” said Vogel. “In race two, my pace was – on average – about 1.5 seconds faster than the previous day’s pace and it was a great lesson to not over-think my driving. This car is coming to me, and I have to let myself find my flow and just drive it. I’ll continue to chip away at it in the eight-hour season finale coming up at Indy in ten days.”
Vogel added, “Once again we had both women in the GT World Challenge climbing up those podium steps and that made second place feel like a win.”
The season finale – Round 13 – of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America Powered by AWS will take place at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway on October 15-17, 2021.