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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Loni Unser scores two top-5 finishes at Barber Motorsports Park

It was another excellent weekend of development for Loni Unser who continued to adapt well to the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS in Porsche Sprint Challenge NA: Unser enjoyed fantastic battles and secured a pair of top-5 class finishes at Barber Motorsports Park.


Loni Unser, Kellymoss, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Porsche Cayman GT4, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

Loni Unser continued to impress in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America as she secured a pair of top-5 class finishes at Barber Motorsports Park. Building up her speed throughout the weekend, Unser enjoyed fantastic battles in the pair of races as she contended for Cayman Pro/Am honours. A third consecutive fourth place result of the season opened the weekend, with Loni finishing fifth in race two.


Despite limited track time ahead of the first round of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America at Sebring International Raceway, Unser impressed as she made significant improvements throughout the weekend. Competing in the Cayman Pro/Am class, Loni finished fourth in both races and displayed speed that established herself as a podium contender. Aiming to make further gains at Barber Motorsports Park, Unser was also competing on the support package for the NTT IndyCar Series.


Loni used the two free practice sessions on Friday to get up to speed and build herself into the weekend. At the end of session one, Unser set the seventh fastest time in Cayman Pro/Am and was targeting a top-5 position in the second session. Finding one second worth of lap time improvements in session two, Loni finished the day inside the top-5 within class and was showing potential which would move her further up the grid on Saturday.


With more experience of Barber Motorsports Park, Unser was confident of a strong qualifying session on Saturday morning. Continuing to improve throughout the session, Loni took a significant step in performance from Friday’s practice sessions and this led to her qualifying fifth in class, tenth overall.


Lining up on the fifth row of the grid for race one, Unser was promoted to fourth in class prior to the start with class rival Ian Porter starting from the tail end of the grid. This fortune, combined with a fast start, saw Loni end lap one in eighth position overall, fourth in Cayman Pro/Am. She immediately began applying pressure to Jason Golan and although this was not for a position within class, Unser was aiming to maximise her overall finish.


Continuing to look for a way past her rival, she was in a train of cars who were battling hard for positions inside the top-10. A recovering Porter then made his way ahead on lap six to drop Unser to fifth in class, however she remained less than half a second behind Golan. Loni would soon get another opportunity to move forward with the safety car deployed on lap 14.


Unser aimed to make a quick restart but had to negotiate the spinning car of Nick Shaeffer and although this promoted her to fourth in class, she lost a small amount of time to those who she was battling on track. Remaining in ninth overall, Loni kept up the pressure in the closing stages to take the checkered flag in fourth place within Cayman Pro/Am to round off a great opening race at Barber Motorsports Park.


Loni Unser, Kellymoss, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Porsche Cayman GT4, 2024 Barber Motorsports Park
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

For race two of the weekend, Unser would line up ninth on the overall grid, fifth among the Cayman Pro/Am runners. An action-packed opening lap saw Loni drop one overall position, while remaining inside the top-5 in class. Running behind Bill Fenech, Unser was applying significant pressure to her rival while attempting to line up a move into the turn five hairpin. The margin between the drivers was consistently tight, with less than two tenths of a second separating the pair at the conclusion of lap eight.


As the race approached halfway, class rival Chris Hutter was now directly behind Loni with her attention now drawn to defending as well as attacking. Responding with a personal best lap time, Unser opened up a small margin over Hutter which again allowed her to focus forward. Matt Joffe was the driver now ahead and similarly to the battle with Fenech, the gap remained small.


The second half of Unser’s race was categorised by this extremely tight tussle with Joffe as the Cayman Masters runner continued to defend stoutly. Setting her personal best time on the final lap of the race, Loni ended race two tenth overall, fifth among the Cayman Pro/Am runners.


It was another excellent weekend of development for Unser who continued to adapt well to the Porsche Cayman GT4 RS. Loni was involved in close battles inside the top-10 throughout the event, gaining valuable experience at an extremely challenging circuit. Although her future 2024 plans are currently uncertain, Unser has been an asset to Porsche Sprint Challenge North America in the opening two rounds and will be targeting further outings in GT4 machinery.

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