Call up for an Emergency Driver
San Ramon, CA – After what happened at Round 1 and Thunderhill Raceway, it was no wonder Reto Baumann was looking forward to Round 2 at Sonoma Raceway. But again, it wasn’t to be. Coming back from a vacation trip, he had a positive COVID infection and had to call up an Emergency Driver in the person of Gary Sheehan, who was happy to jump at the opportunity to drive the #53 Volkswagen Jetta 2.0 GLI powered by 034Motorsport. Another unexpected turn for Reto this season.
It is never easy to just jump into a car you don’t know. Especially, when the car also underwent some significant changes for this 2022 United States Touring Car Championship season. With that, also the team still learning some of the new challenges.
Gary was a fast study and got faster and faster every session, every lap. Set-up changes were requested and applied. With limited session time, there isn’t much time to test. Some good input for future set-up changes and testing ideas came from all the work done. Regardless, Gary Sheehan showed his class and qualified the car in second, sandwiched between the two CoolBoxx Audi R8’s.
Getting a FWD car fast off the line is always going to make for a unique challenge. Gary got a very decent start but lost a position to one of the Audi’s. Using the powerful Sparta Evolution brakes, and after a good run through Turn 10, Gary used his chance into the Sonoma hairpin to take the spot back. It would be a back and forth for the rest of the race. Towards the end of the race, Gary and Matthew Rivkin started to reel in the leading Audi R8 of Viktor Czapla. But it wasn’t to be. Another 3-4 laps and things might have been a different story... The trio ended the race the same way as they qualified, and Gary Sheehan took a hard fought and well deserved second place in the ST class.
Gary Sheehan reviews his Round TWO performance:
“It isn’t every day you get an opportunity to drive an 034Motorsport powered car like this! I want to thank Reto Baumann for giving me this chance. I also thank the whole Team of Red Panther Motorsport for all the support given throughout the weekend. It has been an outstanding experience! Although I lost a position at the start, it was a better start than I anticipated, providing me the opportunity to get that lost spot back at the end of the first lap. From then on, I had my mirrors full of Matthew Rivkin’s Audi R8 as well as chasing the one ahead of Viktor Czapla. It was great fun to drive that race in that car and I was happy with second. But man, that was hard work! And I loved every second of it!”
About Red Panther Motorsport (RPM)
A leading California based professional racing team. RPM competes in the Hankook Tires United States Touring Car Championship (USTCC) race series and has won multiple class Championships. For more information, please see and visit www.RedPantherMotorsport.com and like us on our social media channels.