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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Paige Morales overcomes adversity on her first trip to Virginia International Raceway

Bouncing back from a race 1 incident, Paige Morales scored a seventh-place result in the Cayman ProAm class in the latest round of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, gaining valuable experience and showing extremely promising speed and racecraft during the first half of both races.

Paige Morales, RAFA Racing Team by JDX, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, VIR 2024
Photo credits: RAFA Racing Club

Bouncing back from an incident in race one of the weekend, Paige Morales scored a seventh-place result in the Cayman ProAm class in the latest round of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America.

Virginia International Raceway is a demanding circuit and Morales did a superb job to improve her lap times during practice, before qualifying in seventh. Paige was running in seventh in race one before an on-track incident saw her retire prematurely. Nonetheless, she bounced back well to finish seventh in class in race two with good performance from the RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver.

Prior to the weekend getting underway, it was announced that Morales was selected to be part of the Porsche Mobil 1 Female Driver Program North America, joining her fellow Porsche Sprint Challenge North America racers in taking this next step in their career.

Paige has made considerable improvements during the course of her rookie campaign so far, showing speed comparable to more experienced drivers while visiting new circuits. Despite not achieving the results her pace deserved last time out at Circuit of the Americas, Morales was aiming to push towards the top-5 in class at Virginia International Raceway.

The first on-track action took place on Thursday, with a series of test sessions both on Thursday and Friday allowing the drivers to gain valuable track time. Morales did a good job of learning the demands of the circuit during the sessions, finishing the second practice session on Friday eighth in class, while finding over two seconds of lap time improvements from the previous day.

Saturday morning’s qualifying session gave Paige a further chance to improve and extract maximum performance from a new set of tyres. Morales set her quickest time on her final lap of qualifying and this resulted in a seventh-place result in class, 18th overall. The RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver’s time of a 1:57.241 was a further two seconds faster than her best time from Friday’s practice sessions, underlining the step forward in performance.

Race one of the weekend took place on Saturday afternoon with Paige starting from seventh in class, promoted to 17th overall with a penalty for Cayman Masters driver Alain Scalzo. It was a clean opening lap for Morales who moved into 16th overall, while holding off teammate Rafael Martinez for a position within class. The safety car was then deployed on lap two following an incident for Roland Krainz, therefore giving Paige an opportunity to make a good restart.

On lap six, Morales lost out to a hard charging Scalzo but had opened up a comfortable gap to Martinez behind. Paige’s lap times were extremely competitive in the middle portion of the race and she had continued to make strides following a positive qualifying session. Unfortunately, an incident on lap nine saw Morales impact the wall and despite her best efforts to bring the car back to the pits, it was too damaged to rejoin and she was forced to retire from the race.

The RAFA Racing Team by JDX crew did a superb job to fix the car ahead of race two at Virginia International Raceway where Paige would line up from the lower reaches of the top-10 in class. It was a good opening lap for Morales as she got back into her rhythm, crossing the line 19th overall, seventh in the Cayman ProAm class. On lap three, Paige showed her speed and set a lap time which rivalled those inside the top-10 as she closed in on the drivers ahead.

As the racing ahead intensified, Morales did a superb job to negotiate an incident ahead which eliminated a number of drivers, including Cayman ProAm class rival and teammate Rafael Martinez. As a result, Paige was inside the top-15 overall, while running sixth in class and was now targeting a top-5 finish.

This incident had also brought out the safety car and when the racing resumed, Evan Hinkle moved ahead as well as Cayman Masters competitor Daniel Ammann. It was a challenging end to the race for Morales, however she collected valuable experience and took the checkered flag in 18th place overall, seventh in Cayman ProAm.

Paige battled hard throughout the weekend at an extremely challenging circuit, gaining valuable experience in the process. The speed and racecraft she showed during the first half of both races was extremely promising and is a sign of the potential Morales has as we enter the second portion of the season.

The next round of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America season takes place at Watkins Glen on the weekend of 6th/7th July.



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