Shift Up Now Athletes Sarah Montgomery, Pippa Mann and Loni Unser completed a successful weekend in their respective races at Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas on December 4-6, 2020.
Saturday’s eight-hour event kicked off the World Racing League finale weekend. Montgomery teamed up with Christian Maloof and James Candelaria in the GP2 class, driving the 604 Fuel Rewards car. Rain fell after the first round of pit stops and changed track conditions and fuel pickup issue forced the trio to pit more than anticipated, but Montgomery advanced the team to fourth place, where they would finish, hungry for a victory that would come the next day.
Mann shared the Round 3 Racing Shell V Power Porsche Boxter 602 with team owners Brad and Buz McCall in the GP3 class. The trio charged to a spot in the top three by just the first round of pit stops. With just over 90 minutes and one pit stop to go, the team moved into the lead. The final pit stop dropped them back to second and although closely chasing the lead, team owner McCall was thwarted by a red flag that reduced the remaining green flag laps and cost the team victory.
“If we had known it was going to go red, we wouldn’t have needed to stop for that splash of Shell V Power fuel,” said McCall. “I think we could have won the race today but it’s always crazy when it comes down to the last thirty minutes like this, after eight hours of racing.”
Unser drove the 601 Team Cooper Tire Porsche Boxter in the GP2 class, alongside her Eastern Championship-winning teammates Michael Gilbert and Mo Dadkhah. The team moved into the top five during the first stint, then into podium contention within the first two hours of the race, and lead laps before eventually earning a third-place finish.
Sunday’s eight-hour race took place under ideal, sunny conditions.
Early in the day, Montgomery’s team discovered an issue with the 604 Fuel Rewards car, resulting in some driver shuffling to ensure the team’s full-season drivers would have a chance to compete. Montgomery and her teammates stepped into the silver Shell V Power 602 car, and after coming so close the day before, had one objective: win the race.
Montgomery drove the final stint and closed a gap of 30 seconds to the leader, passed him, set a gap, then went into fuel-saving mode. With less than one liter of fuel in the tank and a five-second lead, the Lafayette, Louisiana native earned the GP3 class victory, giving the Round 3 Racing 602 its first win of the season.
“We finally WON!” said Montgomery. “It’s been a heck of a rollercoaster this year and this one has been a long time coming, but I am so thankful to be part of the Round 3 Racing, Shell V Power, Team Cooper Tire team, and I’m so grateful to end the season this way. This team is the best!”
Unser’s Team Cooper Tire 601 had another great opening stint on Sunday and was in podium contention by the first round of pit stops. Gilbert took the GP2 class lead with just over one hour to go. With a championship on the line, stretching fuel was too risky and the team needed a long yellow to make it to the end. The caution never came and the team was forced to pit one last time, dropping them back to second place. Team Cooper Tire earned a second-place finish in the GP2 National Championship and finished third in the overall championship points against all classes.
Round 3 Racing plans to return to the World Racing League in 2021, and to continue their partnership with Shift Up Now. More details about the program will be announced soon.