17 Sep Race Report: VIRginia International Raceway
On Saturday, August 24, Winward Racing soared through the field of the Michelin Pilot Challenge Series at the start of the two-hour Virginia is for Racing Lovers Grand Prix at VIRginia International Raceway. While Mother Nature had her way with the 3.27-mile road course, that didn’t stop the Winward Racing team from feeling victorious at the conclusion of the weekend.
After jumping to the top of the leaderboard during second practice, Russell Ward and Indy Dontje were over-the-moon with the No. 33 Mobil 1 Mercedes-AMG rocket. At the conclusion of second practice, Bryce Ward and Christian Hohenadel knew they had the speed and the handling to take the No. 57 IBERIABANK GT4 to the top.
On Friday, third practice and qualifying were canceled due to storms in the area, requiring the starting lineup for the #LOVEVA Grand Prix to be set by points. The rain was challenging all weekend, but that didn’t stop the Winward Racing machines from being two of the fastest cars on track.
At the drop of the green flag, Bryce Ward started in the 17th position while Russell Ward started from the 20th position. Ten minutes into the race, the No. 57 and No. 33 GT4’s were sitting 11th and 12th, respectively. Unfortunately, at that time, the rain began to fall, which led to the No. 57 going off track and getting hit by a competitor who went off track at the same time, in the same place, ending Bryce’s stellar run.
On the restart, Russell restarted tenth and immediately jumped up to the sixth position. Unfortunately, on the way down pit road for the driver swap with co-driver Indy Dontje, the team was hit with a pit road penalty for speeding.
In the end, the No. 33, driven by Russell Ward and Indy Dontje, finished in the seventh position.
“Another difficult one in the books at VIR…Those [rain] conditions are the trickiest in racing,” said Russell Ward. “You have to change up your driving style constantly. You are at every corner of the racetrack looking for the grip, and it makes it difficult to get into a rhythm. The #33 started in 20th, so to bring it home in 7th is a victory in my opinion. I’m looking forward to Laguna Seca. We are heading to the ‘dry lagoon,’ so hopefully, it won’t rain!”
Next up, Winward Racing heads over to the West Coast for the two-hour IMSA Monterey SportsCar Championships Powered by McLaren at WeatherTech Raceway Laguna Seca on Saturday, September 14 at 5:55 p.m. EDT. The race will be tape-delayed and broadcasted on NBC Sports Network on Wednesday, September 18 at 1:00 p.m. EDT.