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  • Writer's pictureLIAM REDFORD

Top-10 results for Paige Morales at Circuit of the Americas

RAFA Racing Team driver Paige Morales continued her debut season in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America with an encouraging performance at Circuit of the Americas, where she gained valuable experience and was set to challenge for a top-5 in race two.


Caroline Candas, RAFA Racing Club, Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, 2024 Circuit of the Americas
Photo credits: Kyle Schwab / Porsche North America

RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver Paige Morales continued her debut season in Porsche Sprint Challenge North America with an encouraging performance at Circuit of the Americas. Morales qualified ninth in class, before finishing an action-packed race one in ninth position while enjoying a number of close battles. Paige was set to challenge for a top-5 result in race two before a start line procedure penalty led to a drive through and therefore an eight place result in class.


In the first two rounds of Porsche Sprint Challenge North America, Morales has taken significant steps forward and shown her potential at both Sebring International Raceway and Barber Motorsports Park. Now aiming to push for top-5 positions within class, Morales arrived at Circuit of the Americas which was a track she had previously tested at. This would give her added confidence ahead of the weekend, with Paige also racing in the first event of Porsche Endurance Challenge North America alongside fellow female driver and RAFA Racing team member Jem Hepworth.


The event began on Thursday with three test sessions in which Morales was able to improve her lap times, while setup work was also carried out ahead of the endurance event on Sunday. Two further practice sessions took place on Friday, with the first also open to those competing in Porsche Endurance Challenge North America. In session two, Morales was able to bank extra knowledge with her fastest lap placing her just outside the top-10 in class.


Morales was looking for further improvements heading into qualifying on Saturday morning, with the twenty-five-minute session setting the grid for both races at Circuit of the Americas. Paige took a good step forward from final practice, finding two seconds of lap time improvements. The competitive nature of the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America field saw her line up 22nd overall, ninth in class.


Race one of the weekend took place on Saturday afternoon with Paige aiming to make progress during the thirty-five-minute race. Morales made a clean start and this saw her hold position after the first lap while she built temperatures in the tyres. On lap three, a spin for Chris Hutter and a pass on Tom Kopczynski saw the RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver move into the top-20 overall, eighth in class.


One lap later, a safety car period neutralised the race as Kevin Maxim had stopped out on track with Morales remaining in eighth in class. When the racing got back underway, a recovering Hutter made his way past, before spinning for a second time which allowed Paige back through and into 19th overall, her highest running position of the race.


As both Hutter and Kopczynski once again moved ahead of Paige on lap 12, she was determined to fight back and made a move on the Cayman Masters class driver. Taking the checkered flag 20th overall, Morales ended race one ninth in class while enjoying some brilliant battles at Circuit of the Americas.


Race two of the weekend took place on Sunday with Morales lining up from 23rd on the overall grid, ninth in class. It was a positive start for the RAFA Racing Team by JDX driver who gained two overall positions, however Paige was adjudged to have committed a start line violation and would be required to serve a drive through penalty. After serving her penalty on lap three, Morales was at the rear of the field and was hoping for a safety car period in order to catch the tail of the field.


Despite the setback, Paige was setting extremely competitive lap times which matched those challenging for an overall top-10 position. After an issue for Loni Unser on lap eight, Morales was up to eighth in class, 19th overall, and was targeting further positions in the closing stages.


Although Unser found a way through, Paige remained eighth in class following an issue for former class leader Nick Shaeffer who fell behind Morales. Taking the checkered flag in 19th position overall, eighth in class, it was a frustrating race but one which saw the rookie driver gain extremely valuable experience while working on fast and consistent lap times.


Morales enjoyed some great battles at Circuit of the Americas, particularly within race one. This allowed her to develop her racecraft while battling with her rivals. The next step for Paige to take will be to improve her qualifying results and this will ensure she can push towards the top-5 of the class positions, while challenging for overall top-10 results.


The next round on the Porsche Sprint Challenge North America calendar takes place at Virginia International Raceway on the weekend of 15th/16th June.

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