What started out as an optimistic weekend for Copeland Motorsports quickly turned into a tough situation that required the team’s quick thinking and an all-nighter. Co-drivers Tyler Maxson and Tyler Gonzalez, competing in the Pirelli GT4 America series at Sonoma Raceway, ended their weekend behind the wheel of a different car than the one they arrived with, and not the results that they were hoping for.
Wednesday and Thursday served as optional test days before official race weekend track sessions, which the team tried to take advantage of. With rain drenching the circuit on Wednesday, Maxson, Gonzalez, and Copeland Motorsports elected not to test. Thursday, a broken axle ended the first session early after a short run by Maxson. Quickly fixing their ride for practice two, Maxson again went on track for a shake-down before he handed the controls to Gonzalez. An unfortunate incident then occurred as Gonzalez lost brakes after a short stint and went hard into the wall, severely damaging their Toyota Supra.
With a Toyota that was not repairable and little time to find a new one, the team missed the first official practice sessions of the weekend on Friday as they finally found a car and went to work preparing the borrowed machine. Wanting to make sure the car was perfect, the team elected to take the entire day off as they worked into the early morning hours, finally leaving the track at 4:00am, to get ready and on the grid for qualifying.
“It’s an unfortunate thing to lose your car before the race weekend really starts,” explained Team Owner Dean Copeland. “But the guys have been working hard getting this car ready and so we will be competing and who knows what can happen.”
Finished in time to qualify, the team managed a fifth place start to their first race overall and fourth in their class. With a second qualifying directly after, the team chose to stay on used tires and got mixed up in some traffic, pushing them back to a seventh place start in their class for race two.
After qualifying, Tyler Maxson explained, “Obviously this isn’t how we would have liked to start the season, but under the circumstances, I think the team has done a great job of giving us a fast car and we’re going to see if we can get a better result in the races.”
Despite the tough start to their weekend, the racing pair managed to bring home two top-ten results, seventh in the first wheel-to-wheel action and fifth in the second race. Showing speed in a car that was not theirs and with virtually no track time, Maxson and Gonzalez will return with a vengeance at the next event in a few short weeks.
The pair of Tylers will return on track with Copeland Motorsports in the Pirelli GT4 America series at the end of April on the 16-turn NOLA Motorsports Park road course for rounds three and four of the season.
Photo Credit: Halston Pitman – MotorSportMedia