Bayer scores win at Road Atlanta

BRASELTON, Ga. (September 29, 2000) -- Sonja Bayer continued her recent surge on the Women's Global GT Series by winning a hard-fought 45-minute race Friday at Road Atlanta. The win was the 25-year-old German's third in five races this season ...

BRASELTON, Ga. (September 29, 2000) -- Sonja Bayer continued her recent surge on the Women's Global GT Series by winning a hard-fought 45-minute race Friday at Road Atlanta.

The win was the 25-year-old German's third in five races this season for the WGGTS, which matches women drivers in equally-prepared Panoz Esperante sports cars. It was also her second win in a row and vaulted her into the series point lead with one race to go.

"Winning this championship means so much to me," said Bayer, who will try to clinch the title at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on Oct. 29. "I get emotional just thinking about it."

Emotions of a different kind were displayed by Divina Galica, who lost a battle with Bayer on the track and lost the series point lead in the process. The two were battling for the lead on lap 12 when contact was made, damaging Galica's car and forcing her out of the race.

"Sonja was driving slower than me," said Galica. "She always brakes in the corners when she thinks we are catching her. I tapped her from the rear and knocked my bonnet loose. It makes it very difficult to race with her when she is in front of you."

As is usually the case in racing, Bayer had a different view of the altercation that essentially decided the outcome of the race.

"I know how difficult it is on this course to pass," said Bayer. "I know how to stay on the track ahead of her (Galica). There was trouble in turn seven and I slid the car sideways so she couldn't pass me. She was way too fast and bumped into me. The next lap, Belinda (Endress) caught up to Divina, and I think they touched."

As Galica slowed from the contact with Bayer, Endress took advantage and drove by her into second place. At the same time, the hood on Galica's machine flew off, damaging her windshield and dropping her far off the pace. She received a black flag and retired after 15 laps.

"I was drag racing with Divina down the back straight when her hood flew off," said Endress. "There might have been some bumping going on before that between her and Sonja. I don't know if Divina hit me or what."

As the race continued, Bayer and Endress battled, with Bayer holding an advantage over most of the course. They held a lead over Milka Duno and Audrey Zavodsky, who were waging their own battle for third.

Bayer held on as the race finished under caution due to a two-car crash in turn seven involving Wendy Lee and Liz Boeder. Though neither driver was injured, time ran out on the race before the track could be cleared.

Hundertmark finished fifth behind Bayer, Endress, Duno and Zavodsky. Rounding out the top 10 were Nikki LaRue, Rayner Taylor, Helen Bashford, Renee Eady and Melissa Grunnah.

Dana Moore, who had won the first pole of her career in Thursday's qualifying, led the first lap but then spun off course in turn one on the second lap. She fell a lap down while being removed from the gravel trap, but came back to finish 12th.

"I had a good start," said Moore. "At the end of the first lap, I missed a shift. I was trying to go into third gear and went into fifth gear."

Finish of Friday's Women's Global GT Series 45-minute sports car race at 2.54-mile Road Atlanta with starting position in parentheses, driver, hometown or country, laps completed, reason out, if any, winning time and margin of victory (all cars Panoz Esperantes):

<pre> 1. (3) Sonja Bayer, Germany, 21, 41:18.286, under caution. 2. (5) Belinda Endress, Newbury Park, Calif., 21. 3. (4) Milka Duno, Venezuela, 21. 4. (6) Audrey Zavodsky, New Boston, Mich., 21. 5. (7) Terri Hundertmark, Indianapolis, 21. 6. (9) Nikki LaRue, Erie, Col., 21. 7. (11) Rayner Taylor, Thomasville, Ga., 21. 8. (10) Helen Bashford, England, 21. 9. (8) Renee Eady, Carrollton, Ga., 21. 10. (13) Melissa Grunnah, Charlotte, N.C., 21. 11. (14) Sherry DeCoursey, Martinsville, Ind., 21. 12. (1) Dana Moore, El Cajon, Calif., 20. 13. (15) Wendy Lee, Marietta, Ga., 17, accident. 14. (12) Liz Boeder, San Carlos, Calif., 17, accident. 15. (2) Divina Galica, Sebring, Fla., 15, mechanical.

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Series IMSA Others
Drivers Milka Duno , Wendy Lee , Belinda Endress , Audrey Zavodsky , Divina Galica