For the first time in nearly ten years, Turner Motorsport visited Road Atlanta this past weekend for Grand-Am's first ever race event at the 2.54 mile 12 turn road course in Braselton, Georgia. The track is best known for its famous esses between turns three and five and the super long back straight making it a favorite among many drivers.
Turner Motorsport is no stranger to Road Atlanta after having raced here in the World Challenge from 1999-2003. The team also tested here last year in preparation for this season's race. The test days proved to be a benefit early in Thursday morning's promoter test day as the yellow and blue Turner BMWs topped the charts.
Despite some bad luck in Thursday afternoon's test day, all three Turner M3s were ready for practice and qualifying on Friday thanks to the crew's hard work and extra hours repairing crash damage. All qualifying sessions were ultimately canceled due to rain and the grid was decided on current season point standings.
In Saturday afternoon's two-and-three-quarter-hour Rolex Series race, the No. 94 GT class M3 finished 7th in GT keeping Paul Dalla Lana 4th in the driver points championship. Billy Johnson filled in for Bill Auberlen's absence this weekend due to the conflict with ALMS and the Long Beach Grand Prix with BMW Team RLL. After a strong run by Dalla Lana, Johnson jumped into the No. 94 GT M3 to finish out the remainder of the race managing to finish only one lap down after some unexpected pit stops. Michael Marsal and Gunter Schaldach finished 12th in the Grand Touring class after an early mechanical issue in the No. 93 GT class M3.
Billy Johnson commented after the race, "It was great to be back in the TMS M3 again at Road Atlanta. The team has been working hard on making the car fast and I tested with them last year at Road Atlanta so I felt we were in a good position for the race. Unfortunately we had a hood pin issue that forced extra pit stops to repair the hood and without any yellow flags, we couldn't get to the front, despite running consistent fast laps. I look forward to be back in the car again later this year."
In Saturday morning's two-and-one-half-hour Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge race Boris Said started in 14th place in the No. 96 GS class M3. After 10 laps Said had gained several positions moving his way through the field in what looked to be a competitive car. On lap 16, Said pitted for tires and fuel only to experience a gearbox issue during his first lap under caution. The issue proved to be terminal, ending the day early for Boris Said and co-driver Paul Dalla Lana.
The Continental Sports Car Challenge race will be televised on SPEED TV on April 27th at 2:00pm ET. The full broadcast of the Rolex series race can be found on Grand-Am.com.
Round 5 of the 2013 Rolex Grand-Am Road racing season comes from Belle Isle Detroit on June 1st for the Chevrolet Grand-Am Detroit 200. The Continental Tire Sports Car Challenge will resume on June 15th at Mid Ohio Sports Car Course.
2013 ROLEX SERIES SCHEDULE
- June 1 Detroit Belle Isle
- June 15 Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
- June 30 Watkins Glen International
- July 26 Indianapolis Motor Speedway
- Aug. 10 Road America
- Aug. 17 Kansas Speedway
- Sept. 8 Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca
- Sept. 28 Lime Rock Park
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