Shift Up Now Athletes Laura Hayes Sarah Montgomery both earned a second-place finish, and Loni Unser brought home P4 during the World Racing League endurance race weekend at Mid- Ohio Sports Car Course on April 8-10, 2022.
Weather was a considerable factor in the weekend. On Friday, the temperatures were frigid and the 2.4-mile, 15-turn track was damp. Despite the unexpected and treacherous conditions for qualifying, Montgomery’s teammate Cole Loftsgard put the Hagerty Motorsports Round 3 Racing BMW M4 GT4 on the pole for Saturday’s race.
Snow threatened the start of race one on Saturday but the green flag flew at 9:00 a.m. ET as planned. Hayes took the start in the Thunder Bunny Racing CS Racing BMW M2 CS and drove an incredible stint of almost four hours and worked her way to the front of the field, despite the intermittent snowstorm.
Hayes handed the car over to her teammates, who were able stay near the front of the pack and bring home a second-place finish, Hayes’ first podium of the season and the second overall GTO podium for a Shift Up Now Athlete.
"It was a good weekend for us at Mid Ohio," said Hayes. "We’re developing our M2 to be more competitive with the GT4 cars, and I’m proud of our results. We were able to maximize our performance in the snowy/wet conditions on Saturday, which always seems to level the playing field, and it was incredibly rewarding to finish in second place."
Loftsgard took the start on Saturday and stayed in contention, later handing the car over to teammate Brad McCall for the middle stint. Montgomery raced a double stint at the end of the race and took the checkered flag in fifth place.
Round 3 Racing made the difficult decision not to run the Team Cooper Tire GP1 Porsche Cayman in Saturday’s race. With another eight-hour race on Sunday and a goal of finishing on the podium, the team decided that Saturday’s risk wasn’t worth Sunday’s possible reward.
On Sunday, the snow was gone and the sun was shining but the frigid temperatures remained. All three Shift Up Now Athletes took the start in their respective cars.
Montgomery was behind the wheel for a double stint to start the race, advancing into the top five, with McCall next in line for a double stint as well. Loftsgard then anchored the trio’s run. Solid strategy and driving earned them a second-place finish, just seconds ahead of the third- place car. This was the team’s second podium in two events - and third top-five finish - to back up their win at Barber.
“I have raced in many different weather conditions, but the snow and sleet is a new one for me,” said Montgomery. “The temperature was in the thirties all weekend, and quite a challenge to warm up the tires to find any traction. On Sunday, when it was fully dry and sunny,
it was a bit more manageable to find some heat in the tires to have grip, but my team and I worked our butts off and finished the weekend with fifth- and second-place positions.”
Hayes drove a strong opening stint, battling in the top five, when the team was assessed a one-lap penalty, dropping the Thunder Bunny Racing car to the back of the top ten. When the checkered flag fell, the team earned a ninth-place finish, collecting valuable points with their fourth top-ten finish in a row.
Unser was behind the wheel of the Team Cooper Tire Porsche Cayman for a double stint and drove from the back of the field into podium contention. She handed the wheel to Zack Pink for the middle stint, with long-time teammate Mo Dadkhah climbing in for the final double stint. Dadkhah was running strong in second place with 15 minutes left in the race when misfortune struck, and an engine issue dropped the team back to a fourth-place finish.
Loni Unser drove the Team Cooper Tire Porsche Cayman up from the back of the GP1 field into podium contention during her double-stint to start the race, then handed over to Zack Pink for the middle stint of the race, before long-time team-mate Mo Dadkhah climbed in for the final double stint to bring the car home. Dadkhah was running in a strong second place, when misfortune struck the team in the last 15 minutes of the race, and an engine issue dropped them to a P4 finish.
The World Racing League heads to Road America for the fourth event on the 2022 schedule. The back-to-back, eight-hour endurance races will take place on May 6-8, 2022.