GMG maintains championship point lead despite challenging pace at Lime Rock

Wasting no time until the next round, GMG will head straight out to the streets of Toronto, Canada, for the tenth round of the championship next weekend.

LAKEVILLE, Conn. - Continuing their campaign in the 2013 Pirelli World Challenge season that has seen Global Motorsports Group (GMG) take three wins and six podiums, the team walked away from this weekend’s Northeast Grand Prix with all four of their GT-category drivers taking top-10 finishes in spite of difficulty matching pace with other cars.

James Sofronas, Audi R8
James Sofronas, Audi R8

Photo by: Art Fleischmann

“I’m actually a little disappointed to be honest,” stated GMG team owner and driver James Sofronas. “Duncan and I both shared fourth-place finishes, Alex drove his usual solid pace, and we were able to get Billy into the top 10 in his first weekend with the Audi R8 LMS, so in that sense I’m happy.

However, our current championship point lead is going to be difficult to maintain if we keep the pace we are currently running. We’ve put a ton of effort into developing and fine tuning our Audi R8 LMS program, but unfortunately, series restrictions towards our car and lack of restrictions against others is really hurting us right now. We’re keeping our head down and focusing on maximizing results, but it is honestly a bit heartbreaking to see valuable points slipping away.”

During Friday’s first round of the double-header weekend, it was GMG’s Duncan Ende who played the star role of the team. After taking top qualifying honors in the No. 24 STANDD / Merchant Services, Ltd. Audi R8 LMS, the Los Angeles native made great use of his third-row start to battle with the front runners.

Overcoming the Audi’s lack of pace with consistent and error-free driving, Ende managed to grab an additional spot during the race, eventually taking fourth place. As it turned out, Ende would take the top finish of the weekend for both GMG and Audi at Lime Rock.

During today’s round, however, the race would not go quite as smoothly for the Californian. After early contact with another car, resulting damage would place Ende in a position to simply concentrate on managing the car home, placing eighth overall.

“If you can’t finish first, you at least want to be the first Audi, so I’ll take that,” stated Ende. “The Audi didn’t quite have the pace of the guys in front of us, but the car was very well prepared and fun to drive. I would have liked to come home with some hardware, but we can at least walk away knowing we ran well. Today was a little disappointing, but overall I appreciate the work from everyone at GMG.”

Maintaining his point lead with sixth and fourth place finishes, respectively, was GMG’s James Sofronas. Returning to his “second home” at Lime Rock, having come from nearby Pound Ridge, New York, Sofronas struggled during the first round to get his No. 14 Mobil 1 / Children’s Tumor Foundation Audi R8 LMS to maximum pace.

Following a new round of series-issed balance-of-performance adjustments headed into the weekend, Sofronas’ usual podium-worthy performance simply couldn’t hold up to the field in front of him. Friday’s race would deliver his worst result of the year, sixth. During today’s second round, James found a much more solid pace. Still struggling to match the cars at the front, Sofronas delivered a fourth, top finish amongst Audi and GMG runners.

“Our pace was just never there this weekend, but we maintained consistency,” stated Sofronas. “We had such a great start to the year, but if you look at each race, the truth is our car always did well based on attrition. We’re not leading the points because we’re fast; we’re leading because we finish. Hopefully we can have some adjustments move in our favor.”

Running a quietly successful weekend was Colorado’s Alex Welch. During Friday’s round, Welch’s No. 08 Spyder / Lasso Audi R8 LMS ran a steady pace en route to tenth. Not to be outdone, Welch improved form today, eventually taking seventh.

“We’ve had better results, but the weekend actually went pretty well,” stated Welch. “The team put together a great car; this seemed to be all the pace we had. Anytime I can get back out to a race track is a good time, so overall I’m thankful to the team for another faultless run.”

Rounding out the lineup, Bill Ziegler, driving his No. 95 Swisher Racing Audi R8 LMS for the first time, would garner his first top 10 in 2013. Having competed in the GTS ranks during the first seven rounds, Ziegler’s switch to the team’s GT program, with access to all of GMG’s data sharing, has already proven successful. After taking a quiet eleventh on Friday, the Florida resident gained one spot today to take tenth.

“The switch to the Audi seems to be a good one,” stated Ziegler. “Having never tested the car before, I have to thank everyone on the team for getting me up to speed so quickly. GMG went out of their way to make me comfortable and share all of the data they could, and it played a big role in not only earning a top 10, but also in not making any major mistakes.”

Wasting no time until the next round, GMG will head straight out to the streets of Toronto, Canada, for the tenth round of the championship next weekend. Partnering once again with the IZOD IndyCar Series, the team will put their primary emphasis on maintaining their championship position.

Television coverage of this weekend’s rounds can be found on NBC Sports Network on Saturday, July 20, at 4PM ET.


Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series PWC
Drivers James Sofronas , Duncan Ende , Alex Welch , Bill Ziegler
Teams Global Motorsports Group
Article type Race report
Tags audi r8, ende, gmg, lime rock, scca-wc, sofronas