Maddie Aust scores maiden victories in TC America, sweeps VIR
"It was definitely a rewarding weekend" - Maddie Aust swept the weekend at VIR, with a spectacular double victory at only her third round in TC America.
It took five races to Maddie Aust, 18, to secure her first ever race win in TC America.
The young Texan driver made her race car debut in 2022, contesting the F4 US Championship and a part time campaign in USF Juniors, as she learned the racecraft in single-seaters.
Moving to touring cars in 2023, Aust joined TC America in a TCX entry, at the wheel of the #09 Fast Track Racing BMW M2 CS. Despite missing the first round at Sonoma, Aust quickly acclimated to the car and by her second weekend she was already standing on the podium, with two top-3 finishes, a fastest lap and a pole position at Circuit of the Americas.
The new goal for VIRginia International Raceway was a first race win - and she delivered with an outstanding double-victory, in a dominant weekend.
Aust qualified on the front row for the first race of the weekend, lining up alongside Lucas Catania, who had picked up his first win at COTA. At lights out, Catania held the lead, but Colin Garrett snatched second from Aust - then he attacked Catania before the end of the first lap, showing impressive speed.
Catania set the fastest lap of the race and closed back in on Garrett, while Aust held third approximately 1 second behind. Making good use of lapped traffic, Catania got closer to Garrett and claimed the lead with a great pass with 20 minutes to go; Garrett responded one lap later with another spectacular pass.
Behind them, Aust had to defend from Kenny Schmied, who got ahead for third overall with 18 minutes left on the clock. Maddie, though, never gave up and tried to fight back while the duo encountered traffic of the TCA class - but Schmied held her off. The battle continued and, a few laps later, Maddie Aust could grab third overall once again.
After a hectic final lap of the race, Lucas Catania and Colin Garrett traded positions for the overall lead: the two contenders made contact and Garrett spun. Lucas Catania took victory across the finish line, ahead of Maddie Aust.
Catania, though, received a drive through penalty for incident responsibility in the contact with Garrett - and the victory went to Maddie Aust, who claimed her first win in TC America at only her fifth start in the series.
"We struggled a bit with traffic in race one causing us to unfortunately fall back to fourth, but after putting our head down and an unfortunate circumstance we pulled off our first win", said Maddie Aust - who was congratulated in victory lane by GTWC driver Samantha Tan and Sally McNulty, who claimed her career first podium in the TC class.
After her first win on Saturday, though, Maddie Aust had yet another goal for Sunday: taking the win on track. From third on the grid, though, she would have to beat pole-sitter Lucas Catania and Colin Garrett.
Aust had a great start and, right in the slipstream of Catania, she tried to put pressure on the leader, but Garrett held second around the outside of turn 1 and then attacked Catania.
Aust, though, was right behind - with the top three opening a gap. Maddie found a gap on lap 3, seizing an opportunity on Catania to move into second place. Seconds later, Maddie fired into the lead with an equally brilliant pass on Garrett.
Catania and Garrett traded positions as the runner up and tried to put pressure on Maddie - who held off any attack, responding with consistent times, lap after lap. The overall leaders hit traffic of the other classes and Aust had to navigate through the lapped cars while keeping at bay her pursuers - literally glued to her #09 BMW M2 CS Cup.
The final minutes were all about not making mistakes - and with a flawless drive, Maddie Aust left no room and did not crack under pressure, crossing the finish line seven tenths ahead of Colin Garrett and Lucas Catania - also taking the fastest lap of the race. With a back-to-back victory - at her sixth start in the series - Maddie Aust now looks like a potential championship contender in TCX.
"It was definitely a rewarding weekend", Aust told us after the weekend. "Although my first win definitely gave me joy I knew I wanted to secure the win on track", she explained.
"I started third for the second race and was able to do just that after a close race with P2 and P3! Definitely was a great weekend, now it’s time to get back to work and training to prepare for Road America."
As the SRO-promoted TC America enters its second half of the season, the on-track action will resume on 18-20 August at another iconic North American racing venue: the 6.477 km Road America circuit, in Wisconsin.