By Audi Media
• Strong finish for Audi at the Grand Prix of Sonoma
• Podium finish keeps Audi in the battle for the Manufacturers title
• Sofronas regains the lead in Driver Championship points
It was an exciting weekend for Audi Sport customer racing and GMG Racing at the Pirelli World Challenge Sonoma Grand Prix. James Sofronas, in the Audi R8 LMS, fights back from an early race incident to capture a podium position and regains the driver championship lead. Duncan Ende finishes second earning valuable manufacturers points and also his first podium appearance.
The Audi customer team GMG Racing had double the reason for joy in the penultimate race of the Pirelli World Challenge season. At the eighth round of the season in Sonoma the team clinched two podium finishes. Duncan Ende in an Audi R8 LMS finished second ahead of his team mate and GMG Racing owner James Sofronas. Ende started on the grid in 13th position and made an impressive run to finish on the podium for the first time this season. Ende’s second place finish keeps Audi in contention for the Manufacturers Championship.
“I guess we finally ‘hit’, rather than missed, for the first time,” said Duncan Ende. “It’s been a tough weekend. We had an aborted session on Friday, and my (qualifying) session got aborted on Saturday. There was obviously a bit of attrition ahead of me that helped, but it’s good to get up here.”
After a third place finish, James Sofronas moves into first overall in the Pirelli World Challenge Driver points standings. Sofronas began the race in position 4 but an unfortunate incident lowered him to 10th on the first lap. However, Sofronas steadily moved up the field in his Audi R8 LMS racecar and eventually found a much deserved place on the podium.
“This was by far the craziest race of the year as I was hit 3 times on the first lap, with the final contact spinning me around,” James Sofronos, GMG Racing Owner/Driver, said. I went to the back of the pack but knew I had to push hard to gain valuable points as O’Connel got hit on the first lap as well and was in the pits. My crew told me to push hard to get as many positions back to gain the points I needed to close in on the Championship and that’s what I did, finishing 3rd after a tough race as the car’s alignment was out of spec after the first lap contact. I am very happy for my teammate’s Duncan, who finished P2 and Bill Ziegler who finished P8……that’s what gives me the greatest satisfaction, to see my customers do very well. Lastly, I wanted to give a special mention to Bill Ziegler who lent me a part off his car that I needed this weekend and I can’t thank him enough for his generosity, not only this race weekend, but for the past 5 years.”
The DragonSpeed Audi R8 LMS ultra entry piloted by Elton Julian finished 5th in the team’s inaugural Pirelli World Challenge race. Starting 8th on the grid, Julian was able to increase to position 5 before the checkered flag. It was the first race in the Pirelli World Challenge to include the FIA GT3 version of the Audi R8 LMS ultra. A rule change recently announced at Mid-Ohio.
Both Driver and Manufacturer championships will be decided at the Houston Grand Prix at the beginning of October.
Houston Grand Prix
Round: GT/GTS Round 14
Broadcast: NBC Sports, Sunday, October 20th at 4PM eastern.
View live streaming on www.world-challengeTV.com day of races and continuously on demand after races. Also on www.world-challengeTV.com after initial broadcast.