Johnny O’Connell and SKI Autosports Earn GT America Powered by AWS Race 2 Victory at Sonoma Raceway

Johnny O’Connell and SKI Autosports Earn GT America Powered by AWS Race 2 Victory at Sonoma Raceway

It was a highly successful opening round of the GT America Powered by AWS championship for Johnny O’Connell. The SKI Autosports driver celebrated the start of his 40th season of professional motorsports, and secured two consecutive podium finishes at Sonoma Raceway, including a win in Race 2.  

SRO3 Class

O’Connell took the green flag from fourth on the grid in Race 2 in his No. 3 SKI Autosports Audi R8 LMS GT3, and quickly began making his way towards the front of the field. It was an eventful start to the race, as pole sitter James Sofronas in the No. 14 GMG Racing Audi R8 LMS GT3 and George Kurtz in the No. 04 Crowdstrike by Riley Mercedes-AMG GT3 made contact going into the Carousel. 

As Sofronas dropped positions, accompanied by Kurtz serving a drive-through penalty for the incident, O’Connell capitalized on the opportunity to move closer to the frontrunners. Ross Chouest was running in first in the No. 50 Chouest Povoledo Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3, followed by rookie Justin Rothberg in the No. 29 Turner Motorsport BMW M4 GT3. 

In the last ten minutes of the race, the competition intensified as drivers battled for podium positions. Multiple on-track incidents shuffled the standings, notably when Jason Daskalos in the No. 27 CRP Racing Mercedes-AMG GT3 made contact with Rothberg. O’Connell smoothly maneuvered around the chaos and swept into second place, while Sofronas, benefiting from the commotion, was able to recover some spots in the running order.

With five minutes remaining, O’Connell closed the gap to leader Chouest to just half a second. Chouest took the checkered flag to take the win on track for the Chouest Povoledo Racing team, with O’Connell following closely behind to secure second place for SKI Autosports. Sofronas and GMG Racing made a remarkable recovery to claim third.

Although Chouest crossed the finish line first, the Stewards applied a penalty moving Car #50 to the last finishing position for Race 2. See Stewards Decision here

As a result of the post-race penalty, Johnny O’Connell and SKI Autosports were promoted to first place. They also currently lead in the championship standings following strong performances across the opening round, with a second-place finish in Race 1, followed by the win in Race 2. 

“Sometimes you catch a lucky break,” said Johnny O’Connell. “Although we finished second on the race track in a very tight finish, the car Ross (Chouest) was driving was found to be underweight, which gives us the win. I’m happy for the points, but also hope Ross is proud of how he raced and how he drove. I’ve had wins taken away, it happens.”

“I can’t say enough about how proud I am of everyone at SKI Autosports,” he continued. “We’re a tiny team with a lot of talent. Everyone is hungry to do our best and I’m confident as we learn more we will get stronger. Long Beach is up next, it’s a circuit I’ve had great luck at in the past. Everyone knows that I love street circuits and winning Long Beach is rocking chair equity. So fingers crossed!” 

Up Next 

The GT America Powered by AWS field will be back in California shortly for the iconic Long Beach Grand Prix from April 19th to 21st. Tickets are available for purchase and package options can be found here

To follow the action from home, be sure to tune-in to SRO’s free livestreams on YouTube (GTWorld) and Twitch (SROMotorsports) and follow all the action through our social media channels.