Shift Up Now Athlete Erin Vogel earned a fifth-place finish with teammate Michael Cooper driving for RealTime Racing (RTR) on Saturday in the Pro/Am class of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS at NOLA Motorsports Park in New Orleans.
The GT NOLA weekend served as rounds three and four of the 13-round season.
On Friday, Vogel reported increasing power loss related to a broken fuel pump, costing the team valuable practice time. She qualified the No. 43 Acura NSX GT3 Evo22 in P11 for Saturday’s race around the 2.75-mile, 16-turn track.
In race one on Saturday, Vogel avoided a significant collision in turn three and gained a few positions. She then took advantage of the restart to advance further. Despite a lack of grip and overall balance, she described the car as “the best we’ve had yet.” Vogel managed it well to hand the car over to Cooper in fifth, which he held for the remainder of his stint.
“It just felt really good to finish in the top five after a really tough qualifying – and honestly a tough weekend – so far overall,” said Vogel. “In terms of our speed, relative to the rest of the field, and then the electrical and fuel delivery issues yesterday, it’s been tough.
“I’m so proud of the team for their effort on the repairs and for the quick pit stop. We had the fastest stop of the whole field and gained a couple more positions there. It was a little wild on the start, and it’s never fun starting at the back of the field because there are almost always bound to be incidents, so you just have to hope you can avoid being collected as well.”
On Sunday, Cooper qualified the car P10 for the second race and gained one spot before the race started due to another team’s penalty. Weather was a slight factor, with rain on half the track for the first five laps, followed by intermittent sprinkles through the duration of the 90-minute race.
Vogel felt the team got closer to the balance they were looking for on Sunday, but were still lacking grip and overall speed, both in braking and cornering.
Cooper gained a few positions on the start but got caught up in a small incident, knocking him back to P11. By the time the pit window opened, he was up to P9. The RTR team gained one more position through good strategy and another great pit stop, advancing them to P8, where Vogel took the wheel.
Vogel was alone on track for the first half of her stint without any full-course cautions. With 18 minutes to go, the rain came and Vogel nearly lost a spot but held on for the final laps of the race for an eighth-place finish.
Vogel and Cooper return to racing at Virginian International Raceway in Danville, VA on June 17-19, 2022, for the fifth and sixth rounds of the Fanatec GT World Challenge America powered by AWS.