Event Preview: Lizards Lead Points Headed Into Home Race Week at Sonoma
SONOMA, Calif., (August 4, 2020) – Flying Lizard Motorsports has little distance to travel this weekend for the next three rounds of the Pirelli GT4 America championship. Sonoma Raceway, the team’s home track, will host rounds six, seven, and eight of the Sprint and SprintX championships. Flying Lizard currently leads the Sprint Am championship with driver Michael Dinan. Dinan will race the No. 210 Aston Martin Vantage, and the No. 21 Aston Martin in the SprintX triple header with Robby Foley. Erin Vogel and Michael Cooper will race alongside the pair in the SprintX championship in the No. 30 McLaren 570S GT4.
“It’s always great to race at our home track,” said Program Manager Darren Law. “We’ve done a sufficient amount of testing here with our GT4 drivers, and I think they’ll be strong here this weekend. We had some mechanical problems at VIR and still fought hard to bring in strong results, so we’re hoping to have a smoother run to the podium this weekend.”
Following his weekend sweep of the three Sprint races at VIRginia International Raceway, Michael Dinan, driver of the No. 210 Aston Martin Vantage, leads the Sprint Am points heading into Sonoma raceway. Dinan has had a strong run to date, finishing on the podium for all five races of the 2020 GT4 America Sprint Championship.
“This will be first time racing at Sonoma, and I am looking forward to the new challenge,” said Dinan. “Sonoma is Flying Lizard’s home track and we have done some testing there in the past. VIR was my best race weekend yet and I hope to carry the momentum into this coming racing weekend.”
Dinan will also race the No. 21 Aston Martin Vantage with Robby Foley in the SprintX championship, where the pair have a podium and two top five finishes. While the pair had a challenging weekend at VIRginia International Raceway, the duo should have a strong weekend at Sonoma Raceway, where the pair have tested previously. Foley, who will be racing at the circuit for the first time, has been getting ample track time since the race season resumed, running in both the Pirelli GT4 America and the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.
“I’m looking forward to this weekend at Sonoma Raceway,” said Foley. “It’ll be my first time racing there, but we’ve done some testing, so I’m feeling pretty comfortable with the track heading into the week. Michael had an amazing weekend at VIR, his best performance yet, so we’ll be looking for some good results at the team’s home track.”
Erin Vogel’s previous weekend at VIRginia International Raceway dealt challenges that forced her and co-driver Michael Cooper to start all three races from the back of the pack. But the duo pressed on, showing competitive lap times and improving their final positions with each race. Vogel made her GT4 America debut in 2019 at Sonoma Raceway, competing in the weekend’s double header to test the waters in anticipation of the 2020 season. Vogel has also participated in the team’s testing at their home track, and should be a strong contender in the No. 30 McLaren 570S GT4.
“We’re very excited to be at our home track this week,” said Vogel. “Being that it was also the site of my first races with the series last year, I’m definitely looking to improve upon that experience. I’ve grown a lot as a driver in the past year, so I’m coming into this weekend feeling so much more prepared than I was a year ago, with a very well-prepared car that we had out on track for a full day of testing and prep just last week. I know the Flying Lizard crew has been working very hard at the shop for the past week and more to have the best car we can bring to the table, and that’s incredibly confidence inspiring as well.”
Co-driver Michael Cooper, currently the overall Sprint points leader, is no stranger to Sonoma Raceway. He currently holds five victories and five additional podiums at the 2.52-mile circuit from his time in the series. He and Vogel will race the No. 30 McLaren in the three SprintX races of the weekend.
“It’s great going back to Sonoma, one of my favorite tracks on the schedule,” said Cooper. “Being based at the track, Flying Lizard knows the circuit really well and Erin had her GT4 debut here last year. On top of that we completed a test recently so we’ll be able to hit the ground running.”
In an effort to make up for the events canceled earlier in the season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this weekend’s format will again feature a triple header for both GT4 America championships.
The Pirelli GT4 America Sprint championship consists of one driver completing three 50 minute races where no pit stops are required. The driver will have a 15 minute qualifying session for race one, and their starting position for race two is determined by each competitor’s fastest lap in race two. Race three’s starting position will be determined by the driver’s fastest lap in race two. Michael Dinan will be the sole Flying Lizard Sprint entry in the No. 210 Aston Martin Vantage GT4.
The Pirelli GT4 America SprintX championship expands from the Sprint format to consist of two drivers together completing three sixty-minute races, with one pit stop required for a mandatory driver change. Each driver will participate in a 15 minute qualifying session to determine their starting position for one of the two races. The first driver of the pairing will start race one, and the second driver will take over during a mid-race pit stop to complete the event. The order will swap for race two, with the second driver taking the opening stint, and the first driver finishing the race. The starting position for race three will be set by driver two’s second fastest lap time in qualifying.
Built on a working farm in the early 1900s, Sonoma Raceway has been home to Flying Lizard Motorsports for over a decade. The sports car racing champions own several shops onsite, out of which the team runs its various professional and amateur racing programs. With over 160 feet of elevation changes in the Sonoma Mountains, the permanent road course sits 30 miles north of San Francisco.
Weekend Schedule | All Times Pacific
Wednesday, August 5
9:30AM – 10:30AM Test Session #1
12:45PM – 1:45PM Test Session #2
3:00PM – 4:00PM Test Session #3
Thursday, August 6
10:00AM – 11:00AM Practice #1
2:30PM – 3:30PM Practice #2
Friday, August 7
8:30AM – 8:45AM Sprint Qualifying
11:20AM – 11:55AM SprintX Qualifying
1:05PM – 1:55PM Sprint Race #1
4:30PM – 5:30PM SprintX Race #1
Saturday, August 8
9:25AM – 10:15AM Sprint Race #2
3:35PM – 4:45PM SprintX Race #2
Sunday, August 9
9:30AM – 10:30AM SprintX Race #3
3:15PM – 4:05PM Sprint Race #3
Live timing for all official sessions will be available at the TSL timing page. All six rounds of the Pirelli GT4 America event at Sonoma will stream live at youtube.com/GTWorld. The SprintX events will air tape delayed on CBS Sports Network on August 15 at 2:00PM Eastern. The SprintX festivities will air on August 16 at 1:30PM. For live updates and behind the scenes content, follow Flying Lizard Motorsports on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook.