03 May Mid Ohio 120: Preview
After a five year break, The Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge returns to the Mid Ohio Sports Car Course this weekend for the third round of the Championship, the Mid Ohio 120. The event also marks the return to the 2.258 mile, thirteen turn course for Winward Racing who conducted two days of testing there last month.
Despite the frustrating weather conditions and limited track time during April’s test, the Houston-based team enter the race week-end high on confidence. Russell Ward will start Saturday’s two hour race on the back of a successful trip to Malaysia where he won the opening round of the Blancpain GT Series Asia. He followed the win with a third place in race two and he left South East Asia with the lead in the GT4 Championship and an increased level of confidence in himself and the AMG GT4 platform. “You should see a significant increase in performance at Mid Ohio. I had to set the car up on my own in Sepang, I didn’t have Damien to lean on and I think I did a reasonable job. I think that experience will be a big help this week,” Ward explained. He went on to describe the other benefits of his 20,000 mile round trip to Malaysia. “The additional seat time means I now have more trust and more understanding of what the car is likely to do under specific circumstances. It will make it easier to find the limit so I know where to push and where not to.”
Ward’s teammate in the #33 Techemet car, Damien Faulkner, has a history here that spans open wheel and sportscars. “I first visited and raced at Mid Ohio in Indy Lights back in ‘01. I have great memories of dicing with Townsend Bell and Dan Wheldon for the win. Unfortunately, I finished third that day. I’ve had one race there in GTC where I was fighting for a win, again, but got into some contact. Despite not winning here, I really like the track, it has a decent mixture of high speed, low speed and technical turns. I’m very much looking forward to the race and the fact that it suits Russell so well too is very encouraging for the #33 team”
Despite the limited running at April’s test, team owner and driver of the #57 Sonic Tools AMG GT4, Bryce Ward, has fast become a fan of Mid Ohio. “The track is very nice with lots of elevation changes and some technical corners. My favorite section is from Turn 4 through 9 which is nonstop action. I am looking forward putting what I have learned into practice this weekend.
The only member of the Winward quartet with no experience of the track is Dutchman, Indy Dontje. He has been spending as much time as he can getting up to speed the virtual way. “I’m looking forward to Mid Ohio. I prepared myself on the simulator and checked a lot of different onboard videos. Initially, the layout looks pretty simple, but instead it is a really challenging and fast track with some blind corners. Let’s see if Bryce and I can finish in the points again or even taking a trophy with us!”
Round 3 of the IMSA Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge, the Mid-Ohio SportsCar Showdown, takes place on May 6th at 2:20pm EST. You can also get session-by-session updates from the Official Winward Racing Twitter and Instagram accounts at