Shift Up Now Athletes Loni Unser, Sarah Montgomery, Pippa Mann and Laura Hayes had a highly successful weekend, including a victory for Unser on Saturday and one for Montgomery on Sunday during the second World Racing League event at Barber Motorsports Park on March 4-6, 2022.
Saturday’s nine-hour endurance race around the 2.38-mile, 16-turn road course saw Unser’s teammate Mo Dadkhah behind the wheel first, for a double stint in the Team Cooper Tires Round 3 Racing Porsche Cayman in the GP1 class. Dadkhah drove from the P6 starting position to the lead, then gave the wheel to Zack Ping. Pit stops cycled the team back to third in a field of 20 GP1 cars. Unser took the third stint and drove a double for three hours, climbing back to the lead (P10 overall). She then handed the wheel back to Dadkhah for the final stint and the trio’s first win of the 2022 season.
Hayes’ Thunder Bunny Racing BMW M2 CS Racing car started P22 in the GT0 class. Taking the wheel in the middle of the race, Hayes advanced the team into the top ten, then the top five. The team would hold that position until the car’s gearbox overheated due to some Speedy Dry oil absorbent on track, costing them two positions and putting them in P7 at the checkered flag.
Montgomery drove the first stint and started ninth in the GT0 class, driving the Hagerty Round 3 Racing BMW M4 GT4. She charged to P2 in a competitive field of 30 cars, then handed the wheel to teammate Brad McCall. McCall was holding P4 comfortably when the team ran into some fueling issues, costing them multiple laps. They made the decision to park the car and focus forward to Sunday.
Mann was behind the wheel for the start of Saturday’s race, starting P17 in the GT0 class in the Monoflo International TLM Racing Porsche Cayman GT4. The car had overheating issues very early in the race and, after fighting similar issues on Friday, the TLM team elected to retire the car early instead of risking damage to the engine.
Sunday’s endurance race was seven hours in length, with one mandatory quiet hour.
Starting from P4, Montgomery’s teammate, Cole Loftsgard took the first and second stints, and advanced to P2 before the quiet hour. Montgomery was behind the wheel for the restart and took the lead, which the team held for the duration of the race. The margin of victory for Montgomery’s first GT0 win, and Round 3 Racing’s first GT0 win in World Racing League, was seven seconds.
“This weekend had many highs and many lows, so I am glad it ended on the highest of all highs,” said Montgomery. “Saturday was a bummer day at the track due to us ending our chances of winning by running out of fuel mid-day. We put our heads down for the Sunday race with one goal in mind; Winning.
“I am beyond elated that the Round 3 Racing/Hagerty GTO BMW was able to pull off an overall win at Barber. Winning a GTO race was my main goal for this year, so now it’s time to reassess my goals and come up with more.”
Unser drove a double-stint to start Sunday’s race, and was running P3 – only five seconds behind the second-place car – when they were called in for quiet hour. Her teammates drove the remainder of the race and performed strongly, finishing in second place, the team’s second podium finish in two races.
Mann’s car started further back in the field in P22 on Sunday due to the overheating issues from the previous day. Teammate Evan Hinkle took the first stint and advanced the car into the top ten before the quiet hour. Mann took the final stint of 2.5 hours, with Tillman Schmid advancing the car to 9th in his stint, and drove to P6. She was chasing the top five when some bad luck befell their competitors, advancing the Monoflo International Cayman to P4 for the finish.
Hayes was behind the wheel for the first stint on Sunday and drove the Thunder Bunny Racing M2 into the top five within the first three hours of the race. She briefly took the lead during the pit stop cycles, making her the second Shift Up Now Athlete to lead a race overall during the weekend. The team held the top five for most of the race until approximately one hour before the checkered flag, when a mistake cost the team two positions. They would finish P7.
The World Racing League heads to Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course for the next event on the 2022 schedule. The back-to-back, eight-hour endurance races will take place on April 8-10, 2022.