Braselton, Ga. (18 July 2021) – Winning the GP3 class in the second race of the weekend in World Racing League (WRL) competition marked a weekend sweep for Round 3 Racing in the GP3 class at Michelin Raceway Road Atlanta on Sunday.
The No. 701 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman fought through early adversity to claim their first podium of the season in the GP1 class.
No. 605 Hagerty Drivers Club Porsche Boxster – GP3
With an altered schedule due to a two-hour county mandated quiet time from 10AM-12PM, the start to the seven hour race presented itself as a sprint race to the drivers of the No. 605 Porsche – Cole Loftsgard, Dennis Neel, Jim Ptak and Carter Pease.
Loftsgard took the green flag from pole position in the No. 605 battling out of class competitors for track position through the opening lap. The No. 605 remained in the lead pack before Loftsgard brought the Porsche to pit lane for the first driver change of the day to Ptak.
Caught up by early traffic the opening two hours of competition came to a mandatory halt with the No. 605 sitting in fourth. Refreshed after the two-hour break, Ptak suited back up to take the restart. With just mere seconds gone from the race clock, Ptak weaved through GP3 traffic to move into second before the end of the lap. By the end of his stint on Lap 114, the No. 605 held the GP3 class lead firmly with a two-minute gap to the position behind.
The No. 605 Hagerty Drivers Club Porsche Boxster never faltered for the remaining five-hours as Neel and Pease combined to stretch their lead to four laps to the nearest class competitor. Pease brought the Porsche Boxster to the checkered flag taking the GP3 class victory – the team’s second of the weekend and fourth consecutive win.
“Getting in the car upfront, I knew we needed to keep the pace to continue to build that gap,” said Neel. “The car was amazing, (Steve) Mason made excellent strategy calls all day even at the end when we pitted for a splash of fuel. You’re nervous until that checkered flag. Anything could go wrong so you’re just thinking through what do we need to do, what do we need to accomplish while just trying to enjoy you’re in the car. The success we have had with this car pays testament to the work the R3R crew put into it between events. An amazing weekend with an amazing team and two trophies makes it that much better.”
No. 701 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman – GP1
The hard work of the No. 701 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman lineup of Loni Unser, Mo Dadkhah, and Mike Gilbert paid off as the driver trio scored their first podium finish since joining the GP1 class.
Adversity struck early during Unser’s opening stint, where she started from second on the grid, as a wheel speed sensor failed resulting in a loss of the ABS system. She continued pushing the Porsche Cayman without a front splitter from sixth as rain threatened to fall. Unser recouped track position, setting up her teammates for success before she brought the No. 702 to pit lane for a driver change to Dadkhah and fuel.
Following the mid-day break, Dadkhah brought the No. 702 Team Cooper Tires Porsche Cayman to pit lane and the R3R crew went to work to remove the rear wing and replace the tires to rebalance the car. The quick effort proved successful as Dadkhah returned to the course in fifth.
Unser, Dadkhah and Gilbert traded off through the remaining five hours of racing. Seeing as low as 46th overall, Gilbert closed the race as heads down driving and flawless pit stops allowed him to take the checkered flag in third place. The podium finish is the third podium result for the Team Cooper Tires drivers and their first since switching to the Porsche Cayman platform.
“We truly live as a team, fight as a team, and win as a team,” said Gilbert. “A big thank you to Loni (Unser) and Mo (Dadkhah) for not only being great teammates but great friends. The Round 3 Racing crew has worked so remarkably hard to get us to this point. To be able to give them a podium result makes it all worth it.”
“It was a weekend of highs and lows,” said team owner Brad McCall. “Steve (Mason) did an excellent job calling strategy all weekend. This team makes me so proud to be a team owner. What sets this group of guys and girls apart is that they give their everything so we are all successful together. We will come back with our full lineup at VIRginia International Raceway and go do it all again.”
Round 3 Racing returns to their shop in Joliet, Illinois in preparation for the next stop on the World Racing League schedule – VIRginia International Raceway on September 17-19 for two eight hour endurance races.
Paige N. Grimmer