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Solid GT4 America debut for Erin Vogel

Flying Lizard Motorsports' driver Erin Vogel claimed two class top-10 in her absolute GT4 America debut at COTA.

Ph: Flying Lizard Motorsports

GT4 Americas kicked off its 2020 campaign at the Circuit of the Americas, in slightly chilly and mixed weather conditions but with all the participants enthusiasm for the dawn of a new racing season.

Erin Vogel made her GT4 America debut at the wheel of the #30 McLaren 570S GT4, effectively launching the program she put together with GT powerhouse Flying Lizard Motorsports. She shared driving duties with factory driver Michael Cooper.

The other woman on the field was American-Canadian Samantha Tan, driver-owner of the #38 ST Racing BMW M4 GT4. Joined by co-drivers Harry Gottsacker and Nick Wittmer in the sister #28 car, the Samantha Tan BMWs featured an outstanding art-car livery designed by Toronto artist George Bucur, reflecting a Van Gogh "Starry Night” feel.

In damp track conditions, the SprintX qualifying sessions saw Nicolai Elghanayan (KTM X-Bow) and Andrew Davis in the GMG Racing Porsche securing pole positions for the two races. Vogel finished her first qualifying run with a 20th place for the first race, while Cooper was 17th in the second session. Tan completed her qualifying effort with the 26th time, but the #38 crew started 9th in the first race thanks to Miller's 2:18.967 lap.

At the start of race 1, the leading KTM had a good getaway and held P1, while Jon Miller in the ST Racing BMW recovered impressively until third place, one overtaking move after the other. Vogel dropped two places from 16th, but was then immediately able to reclaim her starting position and showed good pace and racecraft in the midfield battles.

15 minutes into the race, the charge of the Porsches brought Matt Travis and his #47 NOLASPORT into the lead, after completing a pass on Elghanayan at turn 11.

Miller closed the gap on the leading Porsche as well and, when Travis dived into the pitlane for his mid-race pitstop, extended his stint, moving up into a temporary lead.

As the pit window closed, Jason Hart was back in front of the field, with Samantha Tan behind, followed by Jarrett Andretti in the Andretti Autosport #36 Mclaren.

Tan initially held on to her position, but struggled to keep the chasing group at bay. She dropped behind Andretti and Jan Heylen, while Hart could open a safe gap on his opposition.

Erin Vogel completed a very positive stint and left the #30 Flying Lizard McLaren in the hands of Micheal Cooper. After a great driver change, he rejoined in P12.

In the second half of the race, Dutch ace Jeroen Bleekemolen was on a charge and moved past Samantha Tan for fourth. A few minutes later, he had already annihilated the gap to Andretti's McLaren, stripping him of the third place. However, there was not enough time left to pass Heylen, who finished second behind a dominating Jason Hart for NOLASPORT.

In the latter stages, Samantha Tan further dropped down the order and ultimately finished P12, while Michael Cooper was able to gain two more places and finished the opening race in the overal top-10: in doing so, the Vogel-Cooper crew finished sixth in the Pro-Am class.

"Had a few bumps along the way, but I made a good charge and Michael Cooper and I executed a very smooth driver change." - said Erin after the first race. "Michael got us the rest of the way to the top 10 overall, and P6 in class is a solid start to the season."

In Sunday's race, contested in better weather conditions at the Austin venue, GMG Racing's Andrew Davis kept the lead into turn one from pole, as Saturday's dominating #47 Porsche 718 Cayman GT4 advanced to second, with Jason Hart in the driving seat.

Starting from the midfield, Michael Cooper had some great opening laps and charged through the field until P10. Caught the in the middle of fierce battles, the #30 McLaren suffered a puncture that forced Cooper to an unexpected pitstop and brought out the Safety Car for debris.

Meanwhile, Jason Hart had already gained the lead of the race, leaving Davis in second and Koch in third, in the #15 Bsport Racing's Aston Martin. Soon after, a technical issue dropped Davis to sixth. At the restart, Bleekemolen resumed his charging action, moving up to third in his #54 Black Swan Racing Porsche.

Cooper lapped quickly but had to recover a significant gap. Once he had caught back the field, he made up some places, before handing over to Erin Vogel.

Samantha Tan also pitted and left the #38 ST Racing BMW to Jon Miller. After the driver changes, Matt Travis held a safe gap over Tim Pappas in the leading positions.

Pappas, who had taken over from Bleekemolen, also suffered a mechanical issue and started to lose positions, while Wittmer moved up to fifth in the second ST Racing BMW, having started 17th. He went on to claim to more places and settled in third.

Erin Vogel had another impressive stint and recovered more positions after a very consistent run. She was 17th at the chequered flag, 10th in the Pro-Am class, despite an unfortunate start of race 2.

NOLASPORT completed a controlling weekend by taking also the second race victory, with Michael Dinan finishing second in the Flying Lizard Aston Martin #21. Dinan, who had taken over from Robby Foley, completed a great pass for second on lap 16 on Putt in the #15 Aston Martin, who then dropped to P8.

Wittmer was third for ST Racing, while Samantha Tan and Jon Miller crossed the line in P11 after another brilliant charge in the latter stages.

"Another solid race to wrap up our first weekend of GT4 America SprintX here at COTA" - commented Vogel. "After an early tire failure due to contact, Michael Cooper managed to claw his way from P28 to P13. I took over after another smooth driver change and was able to knock off another 4 positions. Was close to gaining a 5th spot there in the last lap, but it wasn't meant to be."

"Still happy with that comeback to P10 in class. That puts us in the points as we head into Long Beach in April."

Flying Lizard Motorsports Program Manager Darren Law praised Vogel's debut: “Erin Vogel had great SprintX debut performance with her McLaren. If it weren’t for a little bit of bad luck, she and Michael Cooper would have possibly been on the podium with their teammates."

The second round of the GT4 America SprintX championship will be on the legendary streets of Long Beach, when the series will support the Long Beach Grand Prix on 17-19 April.

In Erin's words:

"Still happy with that comeback to P10 in class. That puts us in the points as we head into Long Beach in April."

Ph: Flying Lizard Motorsports



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