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Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier take class win in GT4 America at Sonoma

The Heart Of Racing's all-female crew kicked off its 2024 season in GT4 America in style, where Hannah Grisham and sportscar rookie Hannah Greenemeier won their first race together and collected two class podiums at Sonoma.

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 2024 Pirelli GT4 America, Sonoma
Photo credits: Jordan Lenssen/Lenssen Photo

Hannah Grisham and Hannah Greenemeier took victory in the opening round of the 2024 Pirelli GT4 America at Sonoma Raceway, thus sharing the top step of the podium in their first race as teammates. The all-female Heart of Racing crew picked up where they had left off last year, having swept the final weekend of the 2023 season at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in a breakthrough weekend.

The team selected its first all-female crew in 2023 via a driver shootout that saw Hannah Grisham and Rianna O'Meara-Hunt emerging as the best candidates for the GT4 America seat. Despite being marred by bad luck at some of the events, the pair showed great potential and eventually stars aligned at the final round, where Grisham and O'Meara-Hunt took a pair of dominant wins at Indianapolis.

While the line up has changed - a second driver selection has promoted Hannah Greenemeier to team up with Grisham - the successes continue.

Greenemeier moves from single seaters to sportscars, having raced in the F4 US championship last year following a remarkable karting career. The Colorado-native made history when she became the first woman to win in the highly-competitive SKUSA X30 ProTour Championship in 2021, then made her single seater debut in 2023.

Entering the GT4 America season with only one previous race in GT racing under her belt - an appearance in World Racing League at Barber Motorsport Park - Greenemeier proved that her transition to sportscars was just as smooth.

The weekend was off to a challenging start as track activities on Friday were cancelled due to a track issue that required resurfacing. With the first practice discontinued, drivers had to get up to speed quickly in the second practice, which was also used to set the grid for race 1 and 2.

Greenemeier and Grisham were sixth fastest in the AM class, with a 1:43.049 lap. Their 1:43.455, though, was good enough to place the #26 Vantage GT4 in ninth overall and second in class on the starting grid of race 1, where Greenemeier would take on driving dutied for the opening stint.

The former F4 racer had a good getaway and slotted into tenth overall, retaining second in class after the opening lap which saw several close battles at the top end of the almost 30-car field. Greenemeier followed closely fellow female driver Demi Chalkias, ninth overall and fifth among the Silver class in the #34 Mercedes - as well as the ProAm sister Heart of Racing car, driven by Newell.

Greenemeier eyed more progress as she had her eyes set on the #36 BMW, AM class leader, just two places ahead. Postins, Chalkias and Greenemeier ran separated by a little over a second - with Capestro Dubet's Porsche also joining this train of cars. The #28 Porsche found a way past Greenemeier for tenth overall with 40 minutes to go, but the Aston Martin comfortably held second in AM - with the #099 Porsche sitting third in class, over ten seconds behind.

The driver change approached and most of the field opted to pit with 33 minutes to go; Greenemeier stayed out and moved into the overall top five - as did Postins in the class lead. They would both take the way of the pit lane one lap later and Greenemeier handed over to Hannah Grisham after her first, very competitive, stint in the series.

After all the AM entries had pitted, Grisham sat in P13 overall and had retained second place in class, still behind the #36 Bimmerworld BMW, just a couple of seconds ahead. Grisham, though, first would have to clear the ProAm #89 Mercedes - who found a way past Clay a few laps later. Now with her direct class rival ahead, Grisham started a lengthy duel for victory, chasing the reigning champion and gaining a few hundredths of a second per lap.

While Hannah was the fastest driver, Clay used all his experience to close all the gaps and defend from the attacks of the young Californian even when they encountered lapped traffic ahead. Hannah intensified the pressure in the final ten minutes - and she completed a pass for the lead with 3 minutes to go with a clean move under braking at the chicane.

Now in clear air, Grisham immediately drove away and opened a 3 second gap. Clay lost second to Kris Wilson's Random Vandals BMW on the final lap - but it would be Hannah Grisham to secure the Heart of Racing's all-female team a first win of the year as well as third victory consecutive victory.

"It was a super great day, honestly it really couldn't have gone any better", Grisham commented. "Hannah did an amazing job, in her second ever sportscar race and I don't think she could have done a whole lot better. I was in the battle for the lead and was behind him for a while. I had in my mind where I was going to pass him and I went with it. I'm just super happy and hopefully we can take this momentum into the rest of the year and win the championship!"

Grisham proved once again a superbly solid driver and a very decisive overtaker - and, paired with a great consistency in the first stint for GT rookie Greenemeier, the duo delivered a flawless performance that may establish them as a class contender for the title.

"It's a great way to end my second, I guess, sports car race, with a win" - Greenemeier said after the win. "Hannah did a great job with that pass. I just tried to hold on as close as I could because I knew that she would get in there and she put the hammer down and that's what she did. Let's go get some more wins and hopefully a championship!"

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 2024 Pirelli GT4 America, Sonoma
Photo credits: Fred Hardy for SRO America

Hannah Grisham was at the wheel of the #26 Aston Martin Vantage GT4 for the start of Sunday's race, lining up fourth in class and 16th overall. Everyone got through the first corners cleanly and Grisham navigated through a hectic midfield crucially gaining one place to James Clay's Bimmerworld BMW. Matt Million had meanwhile snatched the AM class lead from Austin Krainz, as Grisham - just a few tenths behind - would have to clear the ProAm Toyota of Eversley to catch her class rivals.

Running on par with the leading cars, Grisham fell behind the Silver class JMF Motorsports Mercedes, although a battle for fourth in class between Borcheller - who eventually got the position - and Clay gained her a small margin. Once the Silver and ProAm cars moved further up, leaving Million and Krainz in sight, Grisham was soon into the clutches of the RS1 Porsche, as the driver change approached.

Grisham pitted with 32 minutes to go from third and Greenemeier took over, attempting an undercut. Greenemeier rejoined fifth in class and, after the pit stops, she hunted down and then overtook Roland Krainz first, then Nicholas Shanny to retake P3 in class with 18 minutes to go.

Greenemeier's pace was almost identical to the Random Vandals BMW who preceded her by 5 seconds, although she wasn't done yet: she clocked a new car's best lap on lap 24 with a 1:43.363 and went on to catch the #98 BMW with a brilliant charge.

Unfortunately, with the chances of another victory in sight, the safety car was deployed with 7 minutes to go and the race ended under caution. 

Hannah Grisham, Hannah Greenemeier, The Heart Of Racing Aston Martin Vantage GT4, 2024 Pirelli GT4 America, Sonoma
Photo credits: Jordan Lenssen/Lenssen Photo

“It was a great end to the weekend, with the third place finish,” said Greenemeier. “I just wish that caution had not come out at the end of the second race. I think we could have made our way to second, maybe even first."

"Hannah [Grisham] did a great job keeping up at the beginning and allowing me to be able to push as hard as I could for the last bit of the race. I’m really looking forward to the rest of the championship. Two podiums this weekend is the right way to kick it off.”

Although Greenemeier was denied the chance to fight for a better position, rounding out the season opener with another podium was a great way to kick off 2024, as the drivers of the #26 Heart of Racing Aston Martin will aim to continue their top three streak at Sebring in a month's time.

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1 commentaire

11 avr.

Impressive, go Team Hannah!

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