Bayer prepares for Road Atlanta women's race

BRASELTON, Ga. (September 23, 2000) -- In only a short amount of time, 25-year-old Sonja Bayer has made a strong impression in competition on the Women's Global GT Series, the only professional racing series in North America for women. In just...

BRASELTON, Ga. (September 23, 2000) -- In only a short amount of time, 25-year-old Sonja Bayer has made a strong impression in competition on the Women's Global GT Series, the only professional racing series in North America for women.

In just five races on the series, Bayer has recorded two wins and has finished third twice, along with a fifth. Entering the next WGGTS event, which will be held at Road Atlanta on Sept. 29 as part of Petit Le Mans weekend, the native of Munich, Germany, is only six points behind series leader Divina Galica with two races to go in the 2000 season.

"My chances of winning the championship are still good, and I'm really going for that," said Bayer. "It is my goal. But I'm also focused on each of the races because I want to win. Every single race counts."

Bayer, who has an extensive European road racing background, competed in one race on the WGGTS last season and finished third at Laguna Seca Raceway in California. She started the 2000 season with a win at Sebring, Fla., and won the most recent series race at Fort Worth, Tex. She is the only multiple winner so far this season in the WGGTS, which matches women drivers in equally-prepared Panoz Esperante race cars. The drivers draw to determine which car they will drive.

"I enjoy the American race tracks, the atmosphere, and the series," said Bayer, who is sponsored by Dick Barbour Racing. "For me it is very important to be in a situation where all of the drivers are treated equally. The mechanics here do that, and there is no advantage for any woman. We get similar cars, and similar chances to change things on the cars. There are no exceptions for anyone, and that is amazing. Whether you make it to the podium or not depends on the driver, and I that is what I really like."

Bayer feels that her chances of winning at Road Atlanta are excellent. "It's one of the best tracks I've seen," she said. "All the level changes, turn 11 under the bridge and turn 12 are great. It's kind of scarey, but I like it. I'm really looking forward to it."

She will also have an extra incentive because her father is traveling from Germany to attend the race, marking the first time that he has seen his daughter compete in the WGGTS. In addition, she is now working as an instructor at the Panoz Driving School at Road Atlanta.

"I'm really focused on doing a good job in this event," she said. "I want to win the championship, secure some sponsors for next year, and I'd really love to race in the American Le Mans Series."

The WGGTS race, which will go for 45 minutes, will be run at 2:55 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29, following American Le Mans Series Prototype qualifying for the Petit Le Mans. The Petit Le Mans, which will go for 10 hours or 1,000 miles, whichever comes first, will get the green flag at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 30.

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Series IMSA Others
Drivers Dick Barbour , Divina Galica